Water and Electricity

Water and Electricity 

Did you know that when you turn on a light it uses water?  I never thought that conserving energy also conserves water, but it does! Water actually plays a huge role in electricity production. 

There are two main types of power plants in the United States: thermoelectricand hydroelectricThermoelectricpower plants heat water to produce steam for generating electricity.  Hydroelectric power plants use flowing water to turn turbines that generate electricity.   There are two components to water use in power plants. Water withdrawal removes water from a local water source; the withdrawn water may or may not get returned to its source. Water consumption is the use of water that is not returned to its source, usually due to evaporation loss.

Some cool things that use water for energy production include:

  •      Drill/mine natural gas, coal, and oil
  •      Refine oil, uranium, and natural gas
  •      Remove pollutants from exhaust
  •      Generate steam that turns turbines
  •      Transport
  •      Cooling
  •      Emissions Control

Did you know?

  • In 2005, thermoelectric power plants withdrew 143,000 million gallons every day to produce electricity!  This amounts to 41% of all the water withdrawn for our use.
  • Between 3,000-6,000 gallons of water are used to power a 60-watt light bulb for 12 hours a day over a year           
 Below is a list of fuel sources and the amount of liters of water required

Fuel Source

Efficiency (liters of water per 1000 kilowatt  hours)*

Natural  Gas


Tar  sands


Oil  Shale








Fuel  ethanol




*Information from the Virginia Resources Research Center

~Jackie Sherry

Water Conservation Graduate Assistant

Originally posted on waterconservationstation.blogspot.com, 12/18/12


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