China’s soaring economy, fueled by an unyielding appetite for coal, is threatened by the country's steadily diminishing freshwater reserves. Next to agriculture, China's coal mining, processing, combustion, and coal-to-chemicals industries consume more water than any other industrial, municipal, or commercial sector. This massive coal boom is forcing China into a choke point; one where limited and polluted water supplies could constrain energy development, endanger food production, and stymie economic growth. The United States faces similar water-energy confrontations—over millions of gallons of water are taken from ranchers to develop the deep oil and gas shale reserves of the west and there are battles between Georgia and Florida over diminishing drinking water reserves. These confrontations between energy and water are occurring in the places where growth is highest and water resources are under the most stress—California, the Southwest, the Rocky Mountain West, and the Southeast.
This panel discussion, on April 11th, 2013 at University of Denver highlighted the oft-overlooked energy-water-food choke points that the United States and China are facing and discussed the opportunities for collaboration to address them.
You can also watch the event video on Center for China-United Cooperation's website.