S-C3 The Water-Energy Nexus

The world faces two significant, and sometimes opposing, challenges: 1. providing sustainable supplies of freshwater for human consumption, agricultural irrigation, and ecological needs, and 2. ensuring adequate sources of energy for current and future generations. Water is in greater demand to support the production of biofuels, power hydroelectric plants, and provide cooling water for generation of electricity. Energy development also has the potential to affect the quality and quantity of water resources through the extraction of coal-bed methane, natural gas from shale deposits, and shale-oil. This session focuses on the water-energy nexus which is defined as the relationship between how much water is necessary to produce fuels and energy, and how much energy it takes to collect, clean, move, store, and dispose of water. The water-energy nexus is of great concern to decision makers at all levels of government.


  • Paul Young, Deputy Associate Director, Energy and Mineral Resources, U.S. Geological Survey


  • Jerad Bales, Chief Scientist for Water, U.S. Geological Survey
  • Robie Lewis, Program Manager, Crosscutting Research, Office of Advanced Fossil Technology Systems, U.S. Department of Energy
  • Suzanne Van Drunick, National Program Director, Safe and Sustainable Water Resources Research Program, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
  • Valerie Reed, Senior Advisor for Bioenergy, U.S. Department of Agriculture
  • David Raff, Science Advisor, Bureau of Reclamation, U.S. Department of the Interior

Paul Young’s role at the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) is to help oversee energy and mineral research and resource assessments as well as environmental health studies, including water and biological contamination. He has experience training and mentoring others as part of the USGS Leadership Development Program and over a decade teaching geographic information science at the continuing education and graduate level in a university setting. Paul’s experience outside the federal government includes seven years service as officer in a professional society and six years executive management on a non-profit Board of Directors, including three years as Chairman of the Board.

Jerad Bales is responsible for the planning and development of national basic and applied research programs related to the hydrologic environment at USGS. He also oversees and evaluates the results of research efforts conducted by universities under the mandates of the Water Resources Research Act of 1984; coordinates the USGS Hydrologic Research and Development Program and the Water Resources Research Institutes Program; and assists other USGS leaders with external national and international programs. Bales represents the USGS on a number of external committees, including as co-chair of the Subcommittee on Water Availability of the National Science and Technology Council. He was the Water Sector lead for the U.S. 2013 National Climate Assessment and is a member of many research coordinating and synthesis groups. (703-648-5044; jdbales@usgs.gov)

Robie Lewis is Program Manager for DOE’s Crosscutting Research program within Fossil Energy’s Office of Advanced Fossil Technology Systems. This office focuses on improving the efficiency of coal-based power systems, enabling affordable CO2 capture, increasing plant availability, and maintaining the highest environmental standards. The Crosscutting Research program supports various aspects within these fossil systems including Water Management, Sensors and Controls, Materials R&D and Computational Modeling. (301-903-6166, robie.lewis@hq.doe.gov)

Suzanne van Drunick’s role at EPA is to oversee the Safe and Sustainable Water Resources research program, which uses an integrated, systems approach to develop scientific and technological solutions to protect human health, and to protect and restore watershed and aquatic ecosystems. Suzanne was the Associate Director for Science at the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences at the University of Colorado Boulder.

Dr. Valerie Sarisky-Reed is the Deputy Director for the Bioenergy Technologies Office (BETO) in the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) with DOE and is also on detail to the Office of the Chief Scientist within USDA as the Senior Advisor for Bioenergy. In her 22 years of Federal Service, Dr. Sarisky-Reed has dedicated her time to developing sound innovative technologies to reduce the cost of conversion of cellulosic biomass to biofuels and chemicals, as well as establishing the algal biofuels program currently active at DOE. Her work addresses energy and environmental issues faced by the United States and globally looking to find sustainable solutions. She holds a Ph.D. in biochemistry from Georgetown University. In addition to her programmatic activities, Dr. Sarisky-Reed is a founding member of the Metabolic Engineering Working Group, which is an interagency effort to advance metabolic engineering technologies for industrial, agricultural, and human needs.

David Raff is the Science Advisor for the Bureau of Reclamation and Scientific Integrity Officer. He overseas Reclamation’s Research and Development Office which institutes the Science and Technology Program which focuses on conserving or expanding water supplies, environmental issues in water delivery and management, water and power infrastructure reliability, and water operations decision support. The office also manages the Desalination and Water Purification Program which supports lab to demonstration scale advanced water treatment technology research and development. David represents Reclamation on a number of national committees and was responsible for Reclamation’s first report to Congress under the authorities of Public Law 111-11 Section 9503(c) the SECURE Water Act in 2011. (202-513-0516, draff@usbr.gov)


  • Paul Young, Associate Director, Acting, Energy and Minerals, and Environmental Health – US Geological Survey
  • Jerad Bales, Chief of Research & Science for Water, US Geological Survey

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