Water and energy are the world’s two most critical resources to humanity and are fundamental components of a healthy society. What most people don’t realize, though, is how interconnected energy and water are and the serious vulnerabilities we face without access to one or the other. With growing populations in cities, urbanization and unpredictable weather due to climate change, many people wonder if we are nearing a breaking point with unrecoverable consequence.

The vital interconnections between water and energy—and our dependence on them—are explored in the fascinating documentary Thirst for Power from Dr. Michael E. Webber. Attendees at DISTRIBUTECH 2020 had the opportunity to screen the film, which captivated a standing-room only audience, and observe a panel discussion with Dr. Webber and other stakeholders in the film. Shot on location in France, Texas and California, Thirst for Power explores the history of civilization’s quest to procure abundant water and energy from ancient Roman aqueducts to modern America’s vast hydroelectric infrastructure. Combining anecdotes and personal stories with insights into the science of energy and water from industry and academia experts, Dr. Webber’s film identifies a hopeful path toward wise, long-range water-energy decisions.

In the film, Mark Twain is credited for saying “whiskey is for drinking, water is for fighting over,” and the documentary underscores the precarious pursuit of water for life and energy for wealth. In a modern society, it’s easy to take these precious resources for granted because we have access to both with a flip of a switch or a lift of a handle. Understanding the connection between energy and water and seeing that water is at every critical step in the production, distribution and delivery of energy, helps viewers truly value the importance of education and conservation for a sustainable future.

At Itron, we believe the way we manage energy and water will define the century. As global citizens, we are actively engaging with communities to help shape a more resourceful world. Resourcefulness is a heartfelt mission that we take seriously – our company can make a difference by creating awareness through education, working collaboratively with utilities and cities, and ultimately inspiring the next generation of innovators to help solve problems in new and exciting ways. Following the screening of the Thirst for Power film, Itron’s senior vice president of Networked Solutions, Sharelynn Moore, joined a panel discussion with Dr. Webber and CPS Energy’s CEO, Paula Gold-Williams, demonstrating our collaborative partnership to improve energy-water literacy and inspire the talent pipeline and highlighting how organizations can have an even greater impact when working together for a common cause and purpose.

With purpose in mind, Itron and CPS Energy have teamed up to provide educational energy-water resources for students and communities with the launch of a new website, Smart Energy Education. Bridging collaboration among community partners and thought leaders, trusted educational programs and digital platforms, Smart Energy Education is a unique and interactive resource that includes student multimedia experiences and activities. The ultimate goal of Smart Energy Education is to demonstrate how improving energy and water literacy can not only foster community engagement and talent pipeline through mentorship, but also inspire students and communities to weave conservation and energy-water saving practices into their everyday lives. Dr. Webber’s film has become a powerful catalyst for conversation and community collaboration for a more resourceful world.

To learn more, please visit www.smartenergyeducation.com. To request an education or industry screening of Thirst for Power, please visit www.thirstforpower.com/movie/.

Callie Bendickson
Director of Corporate Social Responsibility - Itron
Callie Bendickson has more than 20 years of experience leading corporate and community initiatives related to health care, education and industry. She is currently the director of corporate social responsibility at Itron where she is responsible for facilitating Itron’s ongoing commitment to creating resourceful communities through corporate philanthropy, employee engagement, community partnerships and educational outreach.