Jointly increasing efficiency and conservation of energy and water is essential for supply reliability of both resources and reducing environmental and economic impacts of avoidable use, two speakers pointed out at a Women Energy Associates July 10 meeting. "Water and energy are as closely linked as peanut butter and jelly," said Ronnie Cohen, Natural Resources Defense Council policy analyst. "Turning off the tap is like turning off the light," she noted. Cohen and Robin Newmark, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory's Water and Environment program leader, said state and national leaders have yet to address the water-energy connection at the necessary policy and consumer levels. Lawrence Livermore Labs coauthored a report with several agencies on the water-energy nexus for Congress, but its release has been held up by turf battles. Dangling a carrot to compensate investor-owned utilities for their water conservation - and thus energy conservation - is one angle being explored. On July 17, the Natural Resources Defense Council, Pacific Gas & Electric, and the California Public Utilities Commission will hold a workshop to attempt to figure out how to credit energy savings associated with water reductions implemented in utility territories. Specifically at issue is how to measure and verify indirect energy savings to the energy utilities - from installing a low-flush toilet, for example - for utility energy-efficiency portfolios. Energy and water conservation comes down to the price. Thus, installing time-of-use meters on both resources so the end user knows and pays the real cost of delivered power and water is a key efficiency strategy, speakers said. Imposing a public-goods charge on ratepayers of the water sector could also help boost conservation of the state's finite water supplies, Cohen noted. Electric power production by fossil-fuel-fired plants and irrigation each consumes about 38 percent of the freshwater supplies in the United States, according to Newmark. Much of the water use on the energy side is attributable to once-through cooling and coal slurry, which was used at the shuttered Mohave coal plant. On the water side, power is needed for supply conveyance, groundwater pumping, treatment, end use, and wastewater reuse. The water industry is the state's biggest energy consumer - using 19 percent of its electricity and 32 percent of its natural gas (Circuit, March 31, 2006). Enormous amounts of power are used to move water from Northern California to the dryer southern half of the state. Even more juice is drunk to meet the needs of the large and small consumers - largely from water heating. "The energy industry must compete for water with agriculture, other industries, domestic use, and environmental needs," Newmark said. Making matters more pressing is that demand for energy and water will continue to rise from a growing population and additional pressures on both resources. Treating impaired water supply resources and desalting salty water to meet rising demand drive up the energy needed to make potable water. The decrease in traditional fossil-fueled energy supplies also increases the need for new energy developments. "Advanced energy processes tend to be more water intensive - in the fuel extraction, preparation, and power generation," Newmark said. It currently takes about 464 gallons of water per day to power a household, Newmark explained. Another 100 gallons are needed to meet other household uses, including watering lawns, bathing, and laundry. Further affecting both energy and water supplies is global warming. The heating up of the earth is melting snowpack in California, reducing an important source of summer supply in water-short urban and rural regions. Newmark noted that there's a glimmer of hope in the Energy Policy Act of 2005. Federal law now gives the Department of Energy new authorization for water-related research and development. EPAct's Section 979's authority includes having the Department of Energy look into planning, analysis, and modeling of energy and water supply demand.