Hydropower's future is clouded by droughts, floods and climate change

By Caitlin Grady and Lauren Dennis

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1glennToday  09:19 pm JST

Much of the underground water available in the Southwest USA is unusable because it is too brackish.

And there are high levels of arsenic. Most comes from the Colorado river, which is far below normal from so little snow pack the past few years. It really is a critical problem being faced in AZ and NV and the state water people don’t have a solution.

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Rather than spending $80,000 on a well, for someone living near the ocean, a 2,000 gallon per day desalination system is advertised on-line for $14,000. Of course, a desalination system for a community is much cheaper per household than that.

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While hydropower nationwide in the USA generates about 6% of electricity, wind generates 9%, solar 3% (14% in California), and geothermal 0.4% (6% in California).

Interestingly, if California were its own country, it would be the largest producer of geothermal energy in the world, illustrating that this resource is much underutilized.

Much of the underground water available in the Southwest USA is unusable because it is too brackish. This resource is typically less saline than sea water, making it easier to desalinate in that regard, and is also often high in minerals such as lithium. Desalinating brackish water could yield much needed lithium as a byproduct.

There are plans to reduce evaporation from water sources and delivery systems by installing solar panels over the water, thus providing shade.

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San Diego has solved its water problem with a new desalination plant. It has added about $5 per month to a typical water bill, while alleviating the need for rationing. Up the coast, a desalination plant for Huntington Beach was turned down.

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Power is not the most critical problem. Southwestern US states can get other sources of power.

The problem is water. Some communities in Arizona are about to have their water cut off the end of the year with no other water sources available.

Million dollar houses with no water. People have spent $80,000 on drilling and found no underground water to tap.

Other cities have been supplying their water, but cities don’t have the water to share and are scrambling to supply their own residents with water.

Thousands of new houses being built and no one knows if they’ll have water. The developers don’t care.

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