Powering the Tap Dry: Regulatory Alternatives for the Energy-Water Nexus

51 Pages Posted: 21 Jun 2013

See all articles by Amy Hardberger

Amy Hardberger

Texas Tech University School of Law

Date Written: June 19, 2013


In 2008, while Atlanta residents freely watered their lawns, several nuclear power plants in Georgia almost shut down due to drought-induced water scarcity. This absurd reality stemmed from the misunderstood and almost wholly unregulated relationship between energy and water. Water and energy are indivisibly linked and interwoven into every aspect of our culture and lifestyle. Large quantities of water are required to generate energy, and energy is required at all stages of the water supply process including pumping, treating, and end uses. While much has been written recently on the numeric relationship between these sectors, little has been proposed from the legal and policy community regarding regulations to avoid future conflicts between the sectors. The regulatory solution to this problem is multifaceted. At the outset, mandatory data collection and sharing should be increased and standardized in both sectors. Energy- and water-efficient technologies need to be encouraged and incentivized by all levels of government. Maximizing the efficiency of both the water and power sectors can be accomplished by expanding existing federal and state programs and through additional regulatory requirements. As the stress to water and energy resources increases, the urgency of proper planning also grows. The era of bifurcated planning is outdated; therefore, both federal and state governments should require consideration of the water demands when planning new energy technologies and projects, and vice versa. Integration of sector planning is critical to energy and water security and sustainability.

Keywords: drought, water, water scarcity, power generation, electricity, resources, conservation, energy, hydraulic fracturing, fracking, technology

JEL Classification: K32, N50, O14, O20, O21, Q20, Q21, Q25, K23

Suggested Citation

Hardberger, Amy, Powering the Tap Dry: Regulatory Alternatives for the Energy-Water Nexus (June 19, 2013). University of Colorado Law Review, Vol. 84, No. 3, 2013, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2282067

Amy Hardberger (Contact Author)

Texas Tech University School of Law ( email )

1802 Hartford
Lubbock, TX 79409
United States

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