A new report warns that in less than three decades, the United States (and the rest of the world) could face a full-blown water crisis if we don’t change the way we generate power. As the population increases, so does water consumption and power usage. Right now, energy production is the biggest water guzzler in the country – slurping 41% of all freshwater. Unless the country moves to less water-hungry power sources like wind and solar by 2030, water needs could grow to the point where there is a huge gap between what is needed and what is available, plunging the planet into a water crisis.

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According to a study conducted by CNA Corporation, over the past century, water needs have increased six-times and population by half of that. If those trends continue, there will be an insurmountable 40% gap between supply and need. Normally when demand outstrips supply, you can just raise the price, but when it comes to water, it doesn’t work that way.

Related: Experts Warn That World’s Energy Infrastructure is Vulnerable to Climate Change

While much of the water used in power production is returned to the environment, some of it is lost in the process and some if it becomes contaminated or otherwise rendered unusable. Coupled with an increase demand from local populations, it’s evident that water will become an increasingly important commodity – one that we can’t afford to waste on dirty fuel production.

The study focused on Texas in the US because of its increasing population and variety of power sources. The data revealed that the state’s wind power production helped to keep the juice running during a drought in 2011. Otherwise the state would have experienced blackouts during the summer that year, which indicates that if states would move to whatever renewable resource works best in the area, it could go a long way to easing the looming water crisis.

Via Al Jazeera

Lead image via Shutterstock, image via Doug Wertman