What have you done today to lower your impact?

We are washing away the foundations of our existence on every front. It is high time we move from crashing about on the planet like a bull in china shop and find a way to go forward with intent. We must find systems of living based on sustainability. The systems and tools exist, it is up to each of us to adopt them.

Blog Archive

Friday, 22 February 2008

Corn ethanol and Water in the US Part 2 - by Robb

Corn, currently used to produce 95% of US ethanol (Food and Water Watch 2007), has a water footprint of 900 litres/kg and annually consumes about 500 billion cubic meters of water. (waterfootprint.org 2008) Growing corn is thirsty work. So is refining it to ethanol.

“...... the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy estimates average water consumption for ethanol plants is about four gallons of water per gallon of ethanol produced, indicating that water availability will be a major limitation to the potential of the ethanol sector.....” (Food and Water Watch 2007)

This major limitation has already been felt in the industry as the construction of a plant in Minnesota with a production capacity of 100 million gallons and requiring 350 million gallons of water annually was stopped due to local water shortage. (Food and Water Watch 2007) Even if the industry can reduce the water use ratio to 3:1 with new plants coming online in 2008 refining ethanol will consume 30 billion gallons of water.(Keeny and Muller 2006) The high demands for water by the ethanol industry places it in competition with domestic supply, industry, farming and livestock for water. It is clear that much more water will be necessary if the US is to meet the 13 billion gallon target proposed by the White House.

Where will all that extra water come from?

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