Blogs » Politcs Plus » Water: The next wedge issue


I'm a little late in concerning myself with the water issue; putting me way behind, but there are forces out there that will put us in a bind if we let them. Some unlikely sources such as cities, environmentalist, and farmers are joining forces to save our most precious resource; water. The battlefront in Texas starts in Abilene and stretches down to Corpus Christi. The enemy is the nation's largest emitters of carbon dioxide, coal -fired power plants. There are nearly 30 coal-fired plants operating, permitted or proposed. Water stretched cities; environmentalist and farmers are equally concerned about the amount of water consumed by these plants. The carbon emissions alone would be enough for me to want to keep them out, but fortunately for Texas, I don't have that power.

Thermoelectric power plants that use heat to generate power, such as new nuclear, coal and natural gas-are the single largest users of water in United States, in Texas alone they consume 157 billion gallons a year. Coal plants use heat to turn water into steam, which in turns drives their turbines to produce electricity. Some plants even use more water in the process in which steam is cooled and condensed back into water for reuse. They are some plants that use fans and heat exchangers that consumes less water.

Tenaska Trailblazer Energy Center would be the first coal plant in Texas to use dry cooling, asked Abilene to sell it 2 million gallons of treated waste water each day. The mayor refused, much to the delight of the three uncommon allies. In West Texas "parched" outweighs pollution. This conservative area is not a bit concerned about global warming or emissions.. Tenaska will continue to look for other sources to generate enough electricity for about 600,000 homes. Those options may be the Permian Basin or pumping groundwater.

The population of Texas is expected to double by the year 2060 and the increased demand of electricity will decrease the water supply by 18% because of aquifer depletion and sentiment accumulation in reservoirs, according to state forecasts.

White Stallion Energy Center, a proposed coal- fired plant in Matagorda County wants to buy 7 billion gallons of Colorado River water annually, against the wishes of rice farmers in that area. This region also provides critical habitats for wintering birds and nurseries for fish and shrimp. Corpus Christi would also like to tap into this water supply for the proposed Las Brisas power plant but they have to decide ahead of schedule, whether to build the pipeline.

Texas is not unique in trying to balance its future energy needs while still preserving a limited resource, such as water, so we must not be swayed by the need for jobs. Perhaps we could provide incentives to plants to use cooling options that will use less water. Although water efficient methods are not generally the most economical, especially at the start, it could get coal-fired plants, a foot in the front door, they otherwise would not have.

Texas uses coal for 37% of its energy source, 49% comes from natural gas, 10% from nuclear, and about 4% from other and renewable energies. Of those sources, coal uses 480 gallons of water per megawatt hour, nuclear uses the 720 , natural gas 180, integrated gasification 350, and concentrated solar uses 840 gallons a water, in that same time-frame.... All these factors should be considered, the next time someone comes calling, wanting to use or buy our water.

That is just a start, wait to we get privatization.... The author used a Mark Twain saying to describe the fight" whiskey is for drinking and water is for fighting"

***Sunday's Houston Chronicle.."New weapon in coal plant fight:water by Matthew Tresaugue