Most power plants generate power by boiling water to produce steam that spins electricity-generating turbines. Large quantities of water are often used to cool that steam.

Fuel production—coal mining, natural gas extraction, and growing crops for biofuels—also requires extensive water supplies, as does refining fuels for transportation.

In places where energy production requires a large share of available water, or where water resources are scarce or stressed by competing pressures, the energy-water connection can turn into a collision—with dangerous implications for both.

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Energy and water use are closely intertwined

boat on dry lakeshore

Producing energy from fossil fuels, nuclear power, and some renewable energy sources often involves substantial amounts of water. When we build power plants in areas with limited water resources, they threaten the quality and availability of freshwater for other essential needs.

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