I teach a narrative nonfiction class at the University of Colorado; a student did an good piece on water waste through sprinkling sidewalks and soaking common common greens to bogginess.
Curious about the energy of water usage, I did some hunting around and found a reference to the kilowatt hours per acre foot of water provided to residents of Denver, Colo. and Parker, a nearby suburb. Denver relies on runoff; Parker taps into an aquifer.
Turns out Denver water users burn about 2.5 watt hours of electricity per gallon of water they use, so a two-gallon bucket equates to about an hour of a burning night light (incandescent — LEDs use less). We used 13,000 gallons in the summer, equivalent to 32 kilowatt hours, or about two days production of our solar panels.
In Parker’s case, the pumps needed to suck fossil groundwater from the depths require more than five times the electricity per gallon — 13.8 watt hours. So a gallon of cold, clean Parker water embodies the energy to burn a compact fluorescent bulb for an hour. Water is power. Think about it next time you leave the faucet on when you’re brushing your teeth.