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MPhil in Engineering for Sustainable Development

global challenges, engineering solutions

Studying at Cambridge

Nicholas Copeland

Energy, Water, and Land Use in Texas: A case study of water resources in two Texan metropolises

Water scarcity in Texas due to groundwater depletion and drought has risen to dramatic levels in recent years. Meanwhile, the Great Plains’ oil and natural gas boom has driven new mining demands and rapid population growth in a number of Texan cities, leading to inter-state and inter-industry competition for water. As a result, environmental flows for ecosystems have been negatively affected. Concerns about energy security and climate change will exacerbate water resource issues. These challenges facing Texas require that the state recognise energy, water, and land ‘nexus’ interactions as a basis for future planning.
The aim of this research is to analyse the sustainability of water resource use for locales surrounding two major Texan metropolises by creating whole-system snapshots of water use. Water is traced using Sankey diagrams from source to final services by mapping its transformation from when it is first made available, through its treatment, use, and final destination.
By representing water in this way, policy-makers can more easily understand the competing uses of water and opportunities for conservation that may be overlooked in traditional sector-based management. Along with efficiency and conservation opportunities, recommendations are presented along energy-water and land-water interfaces.