Water is a cost of fuel and food

ethanol dewatering sieveGrowing from 27 to more than 200, ethanol plants will use 14 percent of Iowa’s water supply by 2012.

An industry spokesman responds saying that’s “a drop in the bucket”.

For $25, the Iowa Department of Natural Resources grants a 10-year license for ethanol plants to pump as much water as they need from the ground.

Because it’s unknown how much groundwater exists, taxpayers will spend $500,000 to find out.

The top-ranking Republican on the Senate Agriculture Committee will not support regulations on how ethanol facilities use water – or pay their own way – until he sees proof that aquifers are in trouble. Retorts the Democrat, “First we really have to understand the big picture.”

More than half of the water used by ethanol plants evaporates during production. [story]