Statement of Task
The Water Science and Technology Board will conduct a colloquium and produce a short consensus report (and a “derivative” dissemination product in the form of a brochure) that airs and addresses key water quality, water quantity, and related land resources implications of biofuel production in the United States. The following issues will be addressed:
federal and state government, non-governmental organizations, academia, and industry. WSTB established a committee to organize and host the colloquium and to develop this report (see Box S-1). This report draws some conclusions about the water implications of biofuels productions based on discussions at the colloquium, written submissions of participants, the peer-reviewed literature, and the best professional judgments of the committee.
Water is an increasingly precious resource used for many purposes including drinking and other municipal uses, hydropower, cooling thermoelectric plants, manufacturing, recreation, habitat for fish and wildlife, and agriculture. The ways in which a shift to growing more energy crops will affect the availability and quality of water is a complex issue that is difficult to monitor and will vary greatly by region.
In some areas of the country, water resources already are significantly stressed. For example, large portions of the Ogallala (or High Plains) aquifer, which extends from west Texas up into South Dakota and Wyoming, show water table declines of over 100 feet. Deterioration in water quality may