The Carbon Footprint of Water

Water is heavy at 8.34 pounds to the gallon and carbon producing energy is required whenever it is moved, treated, heated or pressurized.  For many communities, the energy required for supplying and treating water and wastewater constitutes the largest municipal energy cost.  In fact, carbon emissions embedded in California’s water as a result of these energy demands is equivalent to the carbon emissions of 7.1 million passenger vehicles, and would require approximately 9 million acres of pine forest to offset California’s water-related carbon footprint.

The type, quality and location of a water supply are the primary factors influencing the energy embedded in a water supply system.  Moving water long distances requires pumping power both to overcome gravity for elevation change and to overcome friction in water piping.  Conversely, some of the lowest energy intensive water supplies are those conveyed by gravity from mountain reservoirs yielding a near zero energy cost for transport. [1] [2]

Our ranch is unique from many other almond orchards which are planted on marginal ground far away from natural water sources resulting in the need to  transport water from distant regions and/or drill energy intensive deep wells, further depleting our underground aquifers.  Our Hickman Ranch is situated just below the Sierra Nevada mountains and receives a gravity fed free flow of pristine water.   As such, our carbon footprint of water is one of the lowest of all almond ranches.



Comment by Tomas Morales – Former Region 9 Water Quality Control Board Chair: 

“I was asked to address the above because of my farming roots and experience as a California water regulator.  In my opinion, not only is the Hickman Ranch a legacy with water usage/rights dating back to 1850 and water infrastructure dating back to 1889, but it is also currently one of the most environmentally benevolent farms in the San Joaquin Valley as it sits on the eastern edges below the foothills where its gravity fed water flows are consistent, unadulterated and have only created net positive (hydroelectric) energy.”





[1] Griffiths-Sattenspiel, Bevan and Wilson, Wendy.  May 2009.  The Carbon Footprint of Water. River Network. 

[2] Spearrin, Mitchell.  November 30, 2012.  Energy Costs of Water in California.  Stanford University.