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Water-Energy Nexus in the Himalayas

The region at the base of the Himalayas faces difficult tradeoffs when allocating freshwater resources for energy production versus agricultural, industrial, and domestic uses. This is one of the most ecologically unstable areas on Earth, and weather patterns are becoming increasingly irregular. On one end of the spectrum, water shortages frequently disrupt energy production, which depends largely on water-intensive coal and hydropower plants. The opposite extreme is also a factor: Dozens of hydropower plants in the Himalayas have been damaged or destroyed by severe floods caused by unusually heavy rainfall in recent years. Construction of new power plants faces increasing resistance from local communities, resulting in social disruptions and instability. In order to ensure both energy security and water security for their countries, governments must look beyond hydropower and coal.