Water: U.S. needs efficiency push at the spigot, Senate panel is told
|July 26, 2012 - The federal government needs to do a lot more to encourage water conservation, a panel told the Senate Committee on Water & Power. Mary Ann Dickinson, President and CEO of the Alliance for Water Efficiency is featured.|
|Paul Quinlan, E&E reporter|
|The federal government seems a lot more interested in saving energy than in saving water, an expert panel told a Senate Environment and Public Works subcommittee yesterday.|
Plenty of expensive programs exist to conserve energy, the Water and Power Subcommittee was told. Congress provided the Department of Energy with $812 million this year to pursue efficiency.
"We don't have anything like that in water efficiency," said Mary Ann Dickinson, president and CEO of the Alliance for Water Efficiency.
With droughts ravaging the Midwest and the prospect of a water crisis growing more real with every passing year, the federal government seems largely unconcerned, witnesses testified.
"We have very serious potential problems in our country, and in many respects, we're way behind other countries," said G.P. Russ Chaney, CEO of the IAPMO Group. "The U.S., simply put, is a decade or two behind many developed countries."
Water and energy efficiency are, in fact, closely linked. Energy production requires water use, while water consumption generally requires energy consumption -- in the form of the electricity required to clean, treat and move water through pipelines.
The subcommittee heard calls for federal subsidies and funding for research to promote water efficiency that takes into account energy costs. There should also be, witnesses said, a push for water-efficiency analyses and retrofits for buildings.
Daniel Bena, senior director of global sustainable development for PepsiCo, said Congress should move now on water-saving incentives. He noted that the "sole mission" of the 2030 Water Resources Group -- a coalition of nonprofits and major companies, including PepsiCo -- is to develop strategies for how to close the estimated 40 percent gap between the world's water supply and demand over the next 20 years.
"If we don't collaborate," Bena said, "there's no way we're going to be able to hit that goal."