Monday, July 20, 2009

Completing the Circle

According to an LA Times article today, the Inland Empire has been developing a strategy for water supplies that work with natural system structures and re-use urban runoff, in order to avoid importing water. This is a strategy that can be implemented in many ways, including urban reforestation and greywater use, as I posted earlier, into a comprehensive system that mimics natural cycles instead of fighting them.

As you can see from the graphic above, however, there is a tradeoff that must be acknowledged, and that is the energy required to run this system for treatment and desalinization. This applies whether it's locally generated power from a "smart grid" or imported power from coal, natural gas, geothermal or even nuclear power sources. The issue with power generation from nuclear, in particular, is that it uses tremendous amounts of water. In France, for example, at peak use times on hot summer days, the reactors are shut down because they discharge hot water into the aquifers and rivers that are destructive to the environment.

Energy and resources are an inter-tied, "systems" problem. As in E = MC (squared). Not just for rocket scientists!