The following reports and analyses are informing the Water Security Grand Challenge.

U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) Thermoelectric Cooling Water Data

EIA’s thermoelectric cooling water data set links monthly water withdrawal, electricity generation, and plant configuration data at the power plant cooling unit level. This data is collected through surveys. The dataset also includes survey entries related to power plant cooling system operations—most notably, hours of cooling system operations.

U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) National Water Information System

The USGS collects and provides real time sensor data on surface water flows, groundwater levels, and water quality at approximately 1.9 million sites in all 50 States, the District of Columbia, and U.S. territories. In addition, every five years, the USGS compiles data at the county level into a national water-use data system, with use categories that include public supply, domestic (public-supplied and self-supplied), irrigation, thermoelectric power, industrial, mining, livestock, and aquaculture.

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Clean Watersheds Needs Survey

In 2012, the EPA worked with states to collect and enter data on more than 27,000 wastewater facilities and water quality projects. This Clean Watersheds Needs Survey data includes the quantity of wastewater moving through the facility and current or proposed processes for water treatment.

Cost Competitive Desalination

DOE’s Advanced Manufacturing Office has supported two studies examining energy consumption and potential energy savings opportunities across multiple processes in U.S. seawater desalination plants. The first, Survey of Available Information in Support of the Energy-Water Bandwidth Study of Desalination Systems, reviews the parameters that impact energy, emissions, and cost of desalination. The second, Bandwidth Study on Energy Use and Potential Energy Savings Opportunities in U.S. Seawater Desalination Systems, estimates the energy consumption and potential savings for desalination plants

Produced Water

The Groundwater Protection Council (GWPC) has estimated annual volumes of produced water from oil and gas wells by state.  In addition, the GWPC has also examined regulations, current practices, and research needs with respect to produced water reuse.

Resource Recovery

DOE, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and the National Science Foundation hosted a workshop on Energy-Positive Water Resource Recovery in 2015. Waste to Energy has subsequently been an emerging technology focus area of the Bioenergy Technology Office, as described in Biofuels and Bioproducts from Wet Waste Streams: Challenges and Opportunities


In a workshop held in October 2018, participants contributed to breakout groups that developed over 40 prize ideas that align with the goals and topics of the Water Security Grand Challenge. Prize competition ideas included technology innovations, data collection and analytics improvements, creative business model designs, decision and market support tools, and other prizes that address social and regulatory barriers.

Historical foundational work of DOE includes The Water-Energy Nexus: Challenges and Opportunities, published in 2014, which framed an integrated challenge and opportunity space around the water-energy nexus.  Building on the 2014 report, DOE supported development of an atlas of state level energy and water flow (Sankey) diagrams to inform regional visualization of the interactions of energy and water.  Other state-level analytical products include a database of state-level water policies impacting energy, a report on state policy opportunities to improve energy performance of water infrastructure, and a report on state policy opportunities to address the nexus between electricity generation and water resources.