The Energy-Water Nexus in Texas

A.S. Stillwell, May 2010 (Citation)


Energy and water are closely related to each other, yet management of the two resources has historically been independent. Water resources planning and management often ignores increases in energy consumption in response to securing drinking water supplies. At the same time, policies concerning power generation, including emission of greenhouse gases, can dramatically increase water consumption for electricity. As a result, tradeoffs often exist between energy and water resources policies. This work collectively describes and analyzes the nexus of energy and water within the state of Texas, with some extension to the rest of the United States. By aggregating Texas-specific data and national average values reported in literature, a snapshot of the energy-water nexus in Texas is presented, showing water use for thermoelectric power generation and electricity use for water and wastewater systems. Case studies then illustrate the energy and water implications of five policy and resource management scenarios: 1) statewide implementation of municipal water conservation and reuse, 2) installation of alternative thermoelectric cooling technologies to mitigate water scarcity, 3) use of desalination and long-haul water transfer as a drinking water supply for Dallas, Texas, 4) integration of wind power with brackish groundwater desalination as a water supply, and 5) energy recovery from municipal wastewater treatment plants. These analyses combine to reveal the intricacies of the energy-water nexus in Texas and its implications for future resource management.


Ashlynn Stillwell, Environmental & Water Resource Engineering and LBJ School of Public Affairs, May 2010, “The Energy-Water Nexus in Texas.” Master’s thesis, University of Texas at Austin.