Initial Publication Date: March 3, 2011

Climate and Energy Webinar Series: April 8, 2011 - Webinar

Coal-fired Four Corners Power Plant in the high desert of northwest New Mexico and Morgan Lake, an artificial lake built to supply cooling water to the plant (S. Semken).

The Energy-Water nexus: A theme for interdisciplinary Earth Science inquiry - Steven Semken, Arizona State University

Webinar goal - Assist educators in understanding and teaching the interdependence of energy and water resources; and offer specific case studies as templates for curriculum development.

Time - 11:00 am Pacific | 12:00 pm Mountain | 1:00 pm Central | 2:00 pm Eastern 
Duration - 1 hour. The presentation will be 45 minutes, followed by 15 minutes of discussion.
Format - Online web presentation via phone and Elluminate web conference software with questions and answers following.
Registration- There is no registration fee, but registration is required to save a space (space is limited to 40). Registration closes when the spaces fill or the Sunday night before each event, whichever comes first. 
Contact - For questions contact Karin Kirk or Katryn Wiese (kkirk at or katryn.wiese at

Energy is required to extract, deliver, and process water supplies; and the most widely used means of energy production require significant quantities of water. The geological topics of energy and water resources may be taught in a decoupled manner, but energy and water systems are inextricably linked from the perspectives of engineering, economics, environmental quality, and sustainability. This interrelationship has been labeled the "energy-water nexus," and it is receiving increasing attention from researchers, regulators, and planners. Active areas of research related to the energy-water nexus include water efficiency of energy production (especially renewable energy), desalination, and the water-related impacts of climate change on energy resources.

The energy-water nexus is also a pedagogically rich topic for Earth and environmental science educators because of its novelty to most students, its global and personal relevance; and because of the wealth of publicly available (DOE-EIA, USGS, NOAA, State agencies, etc.) quantitative data on water and energy systems that can be used in calculations, comparisons, and analyses small to large. Many coupled energy-water learning activities are analogous to those involving energy alone, such as the "water footprint" associated with personal or community energy use and the "water intensity" of different energy sources such as fossil-fuel combustion, nuclear fission, and concentrating solar. The energy-water nexus is also immediately relevant to discussions and studies of climate change and public policy.

Dr. Semken is an associate professor in the School of Earth and Space Exploration at Arizona State University. He is an ethnogeologist and geoscience education researcher whose work is in place-based, interdisciplinary, and cross-cultural geoscience education; and on regional geology and sustainability in the American Southwest.

References from this Presentation

View the ScreenCast of this event (Quicktime Video 290.9MB Apr22 11)
Energy-Water Nexus Webinar Presentation (PowerPoint 2007 (.pptx) 38.4MB Apr7 11) 

Web sites referred to during the presentation

GE Data Visualization site and the appliance energy usage data
US Energy Information Administration - abundant resources about energy

References from the Presentation

Central Arizona Project. (2009). Ensuring reliable water supplies for central Arizona.

Central Arizona Project. (2010). Central Arizona Project website.

Dell, J. (2010). Balancing the energy-water nexus. Proceedings, World Energy Conference, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

Electric Power Research Institute (2008). Summary of presentations, EPRI advanced cooling technology workshop, Palo Alto, California.

General Electric Company. (2011). Home appliance energy use.

Grabiel, T. (2006). Drawdown: An update on groundwater mining on Black Mesa. Natural Resources Defense Council Issue Paper.

International Business Times. (2011). Update from IAEA on Fukushima Nuclear Plant.

King, C. W., & Webber, M. E. (2008). Water intensity of transportation. Environmental Science and Technology, 42, 7866-7872.

Kraker, D. (2002). Is a coal mine pumping the Hopi dry? High Country News,

Lamberton, M., Newman, D., Eden, S., & Gelt, J. (2010). The water-energy nexus. Arroyo

Littin, G.R. (1999). Monitoring the effects of ground-water withdrawals from the N Aquifer in the Black Mesa area, northeastern Arizona. US Geological Survey Fact Sheet 064-99.

McKinnon, S. (2008, 07 December). Arizona's water and power supplies intertwined. Arizona Republic.

McKinnon, S. (2010, 12 August). Lake Mead at 54-year low. Arizona Republic.

National Research Council. (2010). Advancing the science of climate change. Washington, DC: National Research Council.

Owen, G. (2008). Impacts: Drought and people.

Pasqualetti, M.J., & Kelley, S. (2008). The water costs of electricity in Arizona: Executive summary. Arizona Water Institute.

Sustainability of Semi-Arid Hydrology and Riparian Areas (SAHRA). (2007). The water-energy nexus. Southwest Hydrology, v. 6, no. 5.

Thomas, B. E. (2002). Ground-water, surface-water, and water-chemistry data, Black Mesa area, northeastern Arizona—2000-2001, and performance and sensitivity of the 1988 USGS numerical model of the N Aquifer. U.S. Geological Survey Water-Resources Investigations Report 02-4211.

US Department of Energy. (2006). Energy demands on water resources: Report to Congress on the interdependency of energy and water.

US Department of Energy. (n.d.). The energy-water nexus.

US Geological Survey. (2004). Black Mesa monitoring program.

US Office of Surface Mining. (2006). Black Mesa Project draft environmental impact statement. Office of Surface Mining Report DOI DS 06-48 OSM-EIS-33.

Woodhouse, B. (2007). Energy demands on water resources: The Federal perspective. Southwest Hydrology, v. 6, no. 5, p. 18.