As part of their ongoing efforts to convince Nebraskans that increased corn and ethanol production is detrimental to the state, critics are focusing more and more on the emotional issue of water, says Jon Holzfaster, chairman of the Nebraska Corn Board.
More specifically, the criticism revolves around the amount of water used to produce corn and ethanol. For example, anti-ethanol groups regularly point out that it takes three gallons of water to produce one gallon of ethanol.
"What the critics often fail to do, however, is put that water use in its proper perspective," says Holzfaster, a farmer from Paxton. "They fail to mention that it takes 94 gallons of water to process crude oil into one gallon of gasoline. To produce just one average-sized Sunday newspaper takes 150 gallons of water. To irrigate an acre of a golf course requires more than 680,000 gallons of water each year.
In comparison to the water use of other popular industries, it appears that ethanol's water use has been way overhyped.