The 126th RIHN seminar

You are warmly invited to the upcoming RIHN Seminar:

Date: April 14th, 2016 (Thursday) 16:00 - 17:30
Place: Seminar Room 3 & 4, RIHN( → Access)
Lecturer: Dr. Joshua Newell
(Assistant Professor, University of Michigan/ RIHN Visiting Research Scholar)
Title: The Energy and Justice Footprint of Water Supply for Southern California
Abstract Due to climate change and ongoing drought, California and much of the American West face critical water supply challenges. California's water supply infrastructure sprawls for thousands of miles, from the Colorado River to the Sacramento Delta. Bringing water to growing urban centers in Southern California is especially energy intensive, pushing local utilities to balance water security with factors such as the cost and carbon footprint of the various supply sources. To enhance water security, cities are expanding efforts to increase local water supply. But do these local sources have a smaller carbon footprint than imported sources? To answer this question and others related to the urban water–energy nexus, I use a political-industrial ecology approach, which combines the respective disciplinary strengths of two distinct but complementary fields. Specifically, I use spatially explicit life cycle assessment to estimate the energy and emissions intensity of water supply for two utilities in Southern California. This approach reveals that in case of water supply to Los Angeles, local recycled water has a higher carbon footprint than water imported from the Colorado River. In addition, by excluding upstream emissions, the carbon footprint of water supply is potentially underestimated by up to 30%. This life cycle assessment is augmented using political ecology methods (e.g. interviews, historical analyses) to reveal that the sustainability of water supply extends beyond the carbon calculus to include questions of environmental and social justice. Finally, in this talk, I reflect on potential of the urban metabolism concept to provide an interdisciplinary architecture for the fields of urban ecology, political ecology, and industrial ecology.
Contact: RIHN Center OMOTAKA E-mail