Continuing drought in the west coast and south central part of the US has been the subject of many recent news articles.  Concerns about the causes and effects to our natural resources from this drought were an important part of the program of a recent Renewable Natural Resource Foundation (RNRF) meeting held at the American Geophysical Union on May 6, 2015.

The meetings 20 participants discussed the energy-water nexus and its relationship to climate change. The energy-water nexus describes the inextricable linkage and mutual dependence of water and energy. Talks were given by three experts in the area (pictures from left to right), Roger Gorke, a Senior Policy Officer from the US Environmental Protection Agency, who talked about a case study on the present drought in California; Bob Vallario, a Program Manager from the US Department of Energy, who presented an overview of energy-water related issues and climate change concerns; and Steven Nadel, Executive Director of the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy, who talked about policy strategies to ameliorate problems with energy-water issues.  A discussion was held with the speakers and other participants mainly from the World Bank, government agencies, and natural resource societies.

The link between energy and water is crucial to the public health and safety, quality of life, and economic growth.  Water is needed for energy development and generation, as well as to treat drinking water and wastewater.  Through sophisticated modeling, the US has a handle on the important parameters that link water and energy throughout the US.  Although energy efficient practices have been advocated for years, local communities have had regulations than can limit the effect of these practices.  The serious drought in the western US is starting to have major consequences on food production, recreation, types of ground cover, ground water availability, and water distribution.  Of interest to SWST members would be that our forests are going to be more prone to fire and infestation, which could affect the timber removed from these forests.  Significant changes in our allocation of water resources will have to be made in many parts of our country to accommodate the diminished water availability.

Howard N. Rosen

SWST RNRF Representative