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The Water-Energy-Food (WEF) Nexus

NY state’s energy production portfolio is relatively diverse, with significant proportions of hydroelectric, nuclear, natural gas, solar, and wind. Furthermore, NY is a leading producer of apples, grapes, onions, sweet corn, tomatoes, and maple syrup in the United States. Production of food and energy in a changing climate involves both trade-offs and tension, including impacts to water resources.

Program Objectives

  • Identify significant and/or emerging water resource risks/impacts associated with NY’s energy and food production portfolios.
  • Conduct research and outreach on risks and trade-offs identified at the water-energy and water-food nexuses.
  • Communicate results to resource managers, government entities, and the public in order to educate NY stakeholders about the consequences of our energy and food production choices.

Research Questions

  1. What are the water-related impacts of expanded renewable energy development, particularly solar and wind?
  2. What are the risk to water quality related to agricultural and forested land-use? 
  3. Are there benefits of land conversions between food and energy in terms of water quantity and quality?
  4. How is climate change effecting the tensions across the WEF nexus?

Outreach Goals

  • Create summaries of research findings and engage with local/regional stakeholders involved with solar development, including Cornell University and their contractors.

Diversity Equity & Inclusion / Environmental Justice (DEI/EJ)

  • Determine whether issues at the intersection of the water, energy, and food address EJ and assess the adequacy of responsiveness.
  • Make recommendations on how to better incorporate EJ into policies and programs that are at the forefront of water, energy, and food issues.