Carbon Footprint of Water Conveyance versus Desalination as Alternatives to Expand Water Supply

Document Type


Publication Date


Publication Title






First page number:


Last page number:



This research compares the cost and the carbon footprint of two potential water supply options: seawater desalination and water conveyance from remote locations. System dynamic modeling is used to simulate the water system and future water needs of the arid Las Vegas Valley (LVV), located in Nevada, US as an example case. Since, LVV is not a coastal city, the seawater desalination supply option is actually a paper-transfer agreement between Nevada and California or Mexico in which Nevada will build a desalination plant in the Pacific Ocean of California or Mexico and in turn withdraw an equivalent amount of Colorado River water from Lake Mead. The conveyance option involves pumping water from a remote location, located 421 km away. The analysis showed that the energy requirement for the seawater desalination (0.53 million MW h/year) is 96% higher as compared to the water conveyance (0.27 million MW h/year). Similarly, associated CO2 emissions for seawater desalination (0.25 million metric tons/year) is 47.5% higher than that for water conveyance (0.17 million metric tons/year). However, the unit cost of water for seawater desalination is lower ($0.56/m3) compared to the water conveyance ($0.68/m3).


Carbon footprint; Energy consumption; Nevada – Las Vegas Valley; Reverse osmosis; Saline water conversion — Costs; Saline water conversion — Energy consumption; Seawater desalination; Water conveyance; Water transfer — Costs; Water transfer — Energy consumption


Environmental Engineering | Environmental Sciences | Fresh Water Studies | Natural Resources and Conservation | Water Resource Management




Use Find in Your Library, contact the author, or use interlibrary loan to garner a copy of the article. Publisher copyright policy allows author to archive post-print (author’s final manuscript). When post-print is available or publisher policy changes, the article will be deposited

Publisher Citation

Eleeja Shrestha, Sajjad Ahmad, Walter Johnson, Pramen Shrestha, Jacimaria R. Batista, Carbon footprint of water conveyance versus desalination as alternatives to expand water supply, Desalination, Volume 280, Issues 1–3, 3 October 2011, Pages 33-43, ISSN 0011-9164, 10.1016/j.desal.2011.06.062. (

UNLV article access

Search your library