The debate over biofuels must also "recognize the impact of increased agricultural activity on water quality as well as water consumption," the authors said. Raising biofuel crops in some areas will require greater use of fertilizers, with the runoff affecting local aquifers and even coastal regions like the Chesapeake Bay and the Gulf of Mexico, it warned.
The report acknowledged that some biofuel sources, like switchgrass and other lignocellulosic options, can "deliver more potential biofuel energy with lower requirements for agricultural land, agrichemicals and water." Accordingly, the authors urged that crops be chosen based on their appropriateness to the local climate and that producers raise crops that can be sustained by rainfall rather than irrigation.
The report called on policymakers to evaluate the water footprint as they devise an environmentally sustainable biofuels program. "Through energy conservation and careful planning that includes adoption of agricultural practices and crop choices that reduce water consumption and mitigate water pollution from agrichemicals, and identification of the local and regional water resources that will be needed to meet the biofuel mandate," the authors said, "we can have our drive and drink our water too."
|Contact: David Ruth|