Ethanol production using next-generation sources, such as woody biomass, may be less water-intensive than corn-based ethanol, but its full effect on water resources largely remains unknown until commercial-scale production begins, according to a report by the Government Accountability Office. The report said that even in some wetter areas, producing corn-based ethanol can consume as much as 17 gallons of water for every gallon of ethanol. In addition, corn-based ethanol affects water quality because its production requires irrigation, fertilizers and pesticides, the report said.

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