Embodied energy comparison of surface water and groundwater supply options

Water Res. 2011 Nov 1;45(17):5577-86. doi: 10.1016/j.watres.2011.08.016. Epub 2011 Aug 16.


The embodied energy associated with water provision comprises an important part of water management, and is important when considering sustainability. In this study, an input-output based hybrid analysis integrated with structural path analysis was used to develop an embodied energy model. The model was applied to a groundwater supply system (Kalamazoo, Michigan) and a surface water supply system (Tampa, Florida). The two systems evaluated have comparable total energy embodiments based on unit water production. However, the onsite energy use of the groundwater supply system is approximately 27% greater than the surface water supply system. This was primarily due to more extensive pumping requirements. On the other hand, the groundwater system uses approximately 31% less indirect energy than the surface water system, mainly because of fewer chemicals used for treatment. The results from this and other studies were also compiled to provide a relative comparison of embodied energy for major water supply options.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Florida
  • Groundwater / chemistry*
  • Michigan
  • Surface Properties
  • Thermodynamics
  • Uncertainty
  • Water Supply / analysis*
  • Water Supply / economics