Of all the green options reaching the attention of consumers, ethanol looks to be the most promising alternative to petroleum-based fuels for our vehicles. It sounds wonderful – renewable, clean and plentiful. Now RENEW CANADA, the magazine that addresses infrastructure renewal, has a sobering statistic: to produce one gallon of ethanol requires the use of 4.3 gallons of process water.
Even the oil sands producers use less (albeit plenty of) water. It takes between two and four barrels of water to produce a barrel of oil from oil sands.
A worldwide fresh water shortage is looming, and environmentalists are trying to make the general population aware of the problem. Potable water will become in short supply in several parts of the world. Canada is in the fortunate position of having an ample supply, but that could make us a target. Pessimists believe global military war is a possibility as various governments try to secure and control water resources.
To avoid the worst possible scenario, we need to add smart water use to the mining industrys portfolio of environmental practices. Every litre we conserve or recycle is one less litre to fuel potential conflict. Take the long-term view.
For ReNew Canada’s assessment of the water challenge, read the September/October issue at www.ReNewCanada.net.