Graduation Date

Fall 2017

Document Type



Master of Science degree with a major in Environmental Systems, option Energy, Technology, and Policy

Committee Chair Name

Kevin Fingerman

Committee Chair Affiliation

HSU Faculty or Staff

Second Committee Member Name

Jim Graham

Second Committee Member Affiliation

HSU Faculty or Staff

Third Committee Member Name

Andrew Stubblefield

Third Committee Member Affiliation

HSU Faculty or Staff

Subject Categories

Environmental Systems


Investigating the possibility that drought might limit the water supply needed for thermal electricity generation in California, power plant water consumption data was compared to urban and agricultural consumptive demands to identify areas where power plants might contribute to regional water stress. To identify areas where power plants might be impacted by water stress, regional power plant, urban, and agricultural water demands were also compared to the available water supply. A list of power plants that would contribute most to regional water scarcity (individually and in aggregate) was highlighted, based on the plant’s water consumption volume, water-intensity, and water source. A list of at-risk power plants, located in high water stress regions, was highlighted, based on the water source consumed by the plant. Recommendations were offered for avoiding water stress-related issues at power plants contributing most to regional water stress, or located in regions of high water stress. Numerous data quality issues were also highlighted, and recommendations proposed for mitigating those issues.

Numerous studies have looked into the water-intensity of electricity generation in California, but lack of available data from the state’s power plants have limited these studies to using literature estimates from previous studies, or to forming estimates based off of “representative” power plants. This study is believed to be the first to calculate the water-intensity of California’s electricity generation infrastructure at the individual power plant scale using water use and electricity generation data reported to the California Energy Commission.

Citation Style



Thesis/Project Location