Characterizing Water, Food, and Energy Interrelationships
Recent increases in competition for water, food, and energy are exposing the complex network threading these resources together. My dissertation explores how the interactions among these resources affect decisions about the delivery of adequate water, food, and energy to communities. I include technical elements that are ingredients in traditional engineering computations but also explore how societal norms and values enter into resource allocation decisions. My analyses show that for Tucson, AZ conveying water from long distances is 20 times more energy intensive than pumping groundwater and that coal‐based electricity has eight times the water intensity of natural gas resources. Additional analyses illuminate tradeoffs made in using water for food (irrigation) versus using water for energy (electricity generation) and show that decisions are made partly on the basis of stakeholder preferences and perceptions and not just on the basis of a maximization of an overall benefit-cost ratio. I conclude with my views on approaches to mix, and properly balance, technological and non-technological water-food-energy considerations in sustainability planning.