Think about it…just for a minute. How many bottles of water do you drink a week? How much do you use for a shower? When you flush a toilet? Wash your car? Cooking? Lattes? And my guess is your city water bill’s gone up in recent years.
The amount of water used to produce items you USE EVERY day…
Illustration is from CNNmoney
In 2010 global water generated over a half trillion dollars of revenue. Global world population will explode from 7 billion today to 10 billion by 2050, predicts the United Nations. And over one billion “lack access to clean drinking water.”
What happens in the next 40 years when another three billion people come into the world? Imagine adding 75 million people every year, six million a month, 200,000 every day, all demanding more and more water to drink, to shower, to cook, to everything. All guzzling down the New Gold that’s getting ever scarcer.
But, individuals DON’T consume the most water.
Agriculture accounts for 71%, and industry another 16% for a total 86% of all water use in the world. It takes 71 gallons to produce a single cup of coffee, due to processing the beans.
Here’s CNN/Money’s summary of the global market for all water users: Total worldwide revenues of $508 billion in 2010 … the bottled water market generated $58 billion of that total and growing fast … industry needs $28 billion for water equipment and services to all kinds of businesses … another $10 billion covers agricultural irrigation … another $15 billion in retail products like filters and various heating and cooling systems …waste water, sewage systems, waste-water treatment and water recycling systems cost $170 billion … and $226 billion for water utilities, treatment plants and distribution systems.
But, that isn’t the worst of it…
Drought puts electrical production at risk.
As illustrated above, coal is burned to heat water, which becomes steam. The pressure of the steam is used to rotate a turbine, which spins a magnet that creates electricity. The steam is then cooled back into water and pumped back out to the source. Without water, there’s no steam. With no steam, there’s no power. (Image courtesy of Tennessee Valley Authority.)
According to Philip Bump at Grist, about half of the nation’s water withdrawals every day for industry are to cool power plants. In addition, the oil and gas industries use tens of millions of gallons a day, injecting water into aging oil fields to improve production, and to free natural gas in shale formations through hydraulic fracturing. Those numbers are not large from a national perspective, but they can be significant locally. Michael Webber, associate director of the Center for International Energy and Environmental Policy at the University of Texas, finds that worrisome, given our recent water-access difficulties. (Yes, we’re talking about the drought again. Get used to it.) He wrote an editorial for The New York Times titled, “Will Drought Cause the Next Blackout?“
More from Philip Bump about how the drought could affect energy availability and costs HERE.