If projected increases in the use of corn for ethanol production occur, the harm to water quality could be considerable, and water supply problems at the regional and local levels could also arise, says a new report from the National Research Council. The report doesn't make recommendations but was meant to "shine light on issues" brought about as a result of increased biofuels production. Jerald Schnoor, chair of the committeee and University of Iowa environmental professor, explained the report points out both a need for a technology bridge needed to increase production efficiency and a policy bridge to encourage sustainable practices.
The quality of groundwater, rivers, and coastal and offshore waters could be impacted by increased fertilizer and pesticide use for biofuels, the report says. In terms of water quantity, the committee found that agricultural shifts to growing corn and expanding biofuel crops into regions with little agriculture, especially dry areas, could change current irrigation practices and greatly increase pressure on water resources in many parts of the United States. The quality of groundwater, rivers, and coastal and offshore waters could be impacted by increased fertilizer and pesticide use for biofuels, the report says.
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