Water Conservation

One of our primary resources is water, which we use for steam generation and cooling in electricity production. And protecting the environment in the semi-arid regions of Colorado and the Panhandle of Texas includes wise water use.

Our company was a pioneer in reducing the use of fresh water in steam-powered electric generation at the Nichols-Harrington complex near Amarillo, Texas, and at Jones Generating Station near Lubbock, Texas, when we began using treated effluent from nearby cities in the early 1960s.

Since 1980, we have saved more than 115 billion gallons of fresh water by using the treated effluent at these plants.

In 2001, Xcel Energy made another leap forward with an innovative plan to recycle "blowdown" water from our Plant X generation station near Earth, Texas, to the coal-fired Tolk Generating Station nine miles away for use in Tolk's cooling towers. Blowdown is water that has been cycled through boilers and cooling towers so many times that is unfit to be used again because of its high concentration of salts.

In Colorado, we have identified more than 30 projects to conserve water from power plants in the state. The net savings amount to more than 2.3 billion gallons a year.

Perhaps the most prominent is an effort at our Cherokee Generating Station north of Denver. There we use recycled water in our operations delivered from the Denver Water Board. Xcel Energy is the first and largest customer of Denver's recycled water facility.

Use of recycled water reduces the need for fresh water, which then can be used for other purposes.