This report by Western Resource Advocates and Environmental Defense Fund illustrates why legislation is needed to curtail the risk climate change poses to western water supplies and highlights the water-energy nexus. The report provides detailed measures to include in a well-designed national climate and clean energy policy that will safeguard the West’s water.

For years, state and local governments have taken the lead in developing climate-friendly clean energy and water supply strategies. But the potential costs of climate change, to the West’s communities, economy, and water resources, demand federal leadership to ensure safe, clean, reliable water supplies that are the lifeline of western communities.  A protective federal climate change policy will provide the essential framework for innovation and economic development, and state agencies, public utility commissions, and local governments will have an essential role in carrying out a smart, smooth transition to a clean energy economy. A rigorous, well-designed, national climate and energy policy can create incentives for smart energy and water choices, while protecting our communities and our water supplies and our economy from the potentially devastating impacts of a changing climate; the following measures, detailed in the report, are essential to that policy and the current and future prosperity of the West:

  • Adopting comprehensive, national climate and clean energy legislation.
  • Implementing energy-efficiency measures in homes, businesses, and the industrial sector.
  • Expanding the region’s reliance on carbon- and water-efficient sources of energy.
  • Accelerating efforts to improve urban water conservation.
  • Expanding use of recycled water.
  • Advancing new, emerging technologies that optimize reductions in carbon emissions and water use.
  • Working collaboratively to move away from the most polluting, water-intensive resources.

“The greatest issue facing future generations is the combined effect of ever increasing human numbers and the emergence of a dramatically altered climate. Only by pursuing water efficient renewable energy supplies immediately, beginning the long journey to a more water and energy efficient culture, and managing our water resources adaptively, do our children even have a chance of meeting the challenges that surely will confront them.”
— Patricia Mulroy, General Manager, Las Vegas Valley Water District and Southern Nevada Water Authority