Electricity use by water service sector and county. Shown are electricity use by (a) large-scale conveyance, (b) groundwater irrigation pumping, (c) surface water irrigation pumping, (d) drinking water, and (e) wastewater. Aggregate electricity use across these sectors (f) is also mapped.

Electricity use by water service sector and county. Shown are electricity use by (a) large-scale conveyance, (b) groundwater irrigation pumping, (c) surface water irrigation pumping, (d) drinking water, and (e) wastewater. Aggregate electricity use across these sectors (f) is also mapped.

Vince Tidwell and Barbie Moreland (both in Sandia’s Earth Systems Analysis Dept.) and Katie Zemlick recently published “Geographic Footprint of Electricity Use for Water Services in the Western U.S.” in Environmental Science & Technology.

A significant fraction of our nation’s electricity use goes to lift, convey, and treat water, while the resulting expenditures on electricity represent a key budgetary consideration for water service providers. Their study’s goal was to improve understanding of the electricity-for-water interdependency by mapping the electricity used in providing water services at the regional, state, and county levels for the 17-conterminous states in the Western US.

This study was unique in estimating electricity use for large-scale conveyance and agricultural pumping as well as mapping these electricity uses along with that for drinking and wastewater services at a state and county level. Their results indicate that drinking and wastewater account for roughly 2% of total Western electricity use, while an additional 1.2% is consumed by large-scale conveyance projects and 2.6% is consumed by agricultural pumping.

These results support long-term transmission planning in the Western US by characterizing an important component of the electric load.