Water, Energy & Climate Change

Energy leaders are planning a low-carbon energy future that could use large amounts of water. Water managers are planning new water projects that will use large amounts of energy. These decisions need to be made together.

Project Members and Reports
Additional Information

Carpe Diem West’s Water, Energy & Climate Change Project is based on the recognition that no integrated strategy has yet been developed for coordinating water and energy planning – particularly in the area of the potential impacts of planned energy infrastructure on the West’s water supplies. The Project’s central goal is to inform and encourage national, regional, and state policies that address this gap, and to promote aggressive investments in conservation and efficiency in both water and energy.

Water use and energy use are inextricably linked. Most types of power plants use large amounts of water. Conversely, most water delivery and treatment projects use large amounts of energy.  

Climate change will affect both sides of the equation. Western water supplies are already being stressed by a warming climate and increasing population, and both factors will likely get worse. An equally dramatic transformation will occur in the energy sector, especially if there is a systematic effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions using new low-carbon forms of generation.

“It’s clear that the important and difficult challenge is with water, but all the money and sex appeal is with energy.”

James Workman Co-Founder, SmartMarkets LLC


“For most people, the limits on water resources are more tangible than the limits on energy sources.”

Carey King Research Associate, Center for International Energy and Environmental Policy, University of Texas

Project Members and Reports

Water, Energy & Climate Change Working Group Members, January 2011

“Peak Water, Peak Energy, Climate Crisis: The Collision Ahead” Convening Summary, Carpe Diem West, March 2010

“Peak Water, Peak Energy, Climate Crisis: The Collision Ahead,” Policy Brief, Carpe Diem West, February 2010

Additional Information

Energy's Water Demand: Trends, Vulnerabilities, and Management, Congressional Research Service, January 2011

Northwest Power & Conservation Council's 6th Power Plan, February 2010

Luntz Climate Change Polling (1.21.10)  (50.5 MB PDF file)

Luntz Press Release (1.21.10)

Building Blocks: Investment in Renewable and Non-Renewable Technologies, Energy Institute, February 2010           

Energy-Water Nexus in Texas, April 2009           

Solar Power and Water Use – Resource List

The Carbon Footprint of Water, River Network, 2009

The Water-Energy Nexus in the Colorado River Basin, Water Education Foundation, Summer 2009

Johnson Foundation Freshwater Forum Meeting Summary

The Water Costs of Electricity in Arizona, 2008           

SEIA Concentrating Solar Fact Sheet           

Relative Economics of Wet vs. Dry Cooling for CSP Plants, 2008           

Deep in the Wilderness, Power Companies Wade In, Wall Street Journal, August 2009