How many gallons of water does it take you to drive to work every day? That’s the question Michael Webber, an assistant professor at the University of Texas at Austin, would like people to start asking themselves. The answer, of course, depends on how you get there.
A 30-mile commute in a gasoline-powered car would require the withdrawal of 18.9 gallons of water, according to a study he co-authored this week in the journal Environmental Science & Technology. The same commute in a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV), meanwhile, would take a whopping 318 gallons. All told, electric miles necessitate threefold the water consumption and 17 times the water withdrawal of gasoline miles.
But wait, aren’t PHEVs the environmentally friendly choice? “If you are a plug-in hybrid owner and you have wind or solar power at your house, then you can feel really good about your plug-in hybrid using very little water, if any,” Webber told PM. “If you’re a hybrid owner and are plugging your car into the standard U.S. grid, then your car is not very clean, nor is it water-free.”