Thursday, June 5, 2008

It's Time to Get Very Serious About Water

There's an old saying that "it's too late to close the barn door when the horse is gone". And another saying that reminds us that "you don't miss the water until the well is dry".

Well the world's usable water supply is running mighty low and it's seems that, as in the gasoline and food crises, the barn door has been left wide open.

With summer (in the Northern Hemisphere) approaching and weather temperatures rising it's time for everyone to get very serious about water and water management. While Congress is busy debating approaches for addressing the impact of skyrocketing gasoline prices, meteorologists, environmentalists and farmers are already talking about how high temperatures and the lack of rainfall will impact the southeastern US.

The states of Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Tennessee are in an on-going dispute over water resources and land boundaries. The Michigan and Ohio State Legislatures are still trying to decide on participating in the Great Lakes Water Compact. Some states seem to have their head in the sand. Washington politicians seem to have their head stuck somewhere else. And, questions about water supply and US infrastructure were MIA during the US presidential primary debates.

I, for one, am pricing rain barrels for gathering rain water.

In the following video Mike Hightower of Sandia National Laboratories discusses the world water shortage with a reporter for KRQE in New Mexico

excerpt from:
How the World Is Realizing That Water Is "Blue Gold"
by Mark Clayton,

Public fountains are dry in Barcelona, Spain, a city so parched there's a €9,000 ($13,000) fine if you're caught watering your flowers. A tanker ship docked there this month carrying 5 million gallons of precious fresh water -- and officials are scrambling to line up more such shipments to slake public thirst.

Barcelona is not alone. Cyprus will ferry water from Greece this summer. Australian cities are buying water from that nation's farmers and building desalination plants. Thirsty China plans to divert Himalayan water. And 18 million southern Californians are bracing for their first water-rationing in years.

Water, Dow Chemical Chairman Andrew Liveris told the World Economic Forum in February, "is the oil of this century." Developed nations have taken cheap, abundant fresh water largely for granted. Now global population growth, pollution, and climate change are shaping a new view of water as "blue gold."

"We're at a transition point where fundamental decisions need to be made by societies about how this basic human need -- water -- is going to be provided," says Christopher Kilian, clean-water program director for the Boston-based Conservation Law Foundation. "The profit motive and basic human need [for water] are just inherently in conflict."

Will "peak water" displace "peak oil" as the central resource question? Some see such a scenario rising.

"What's different now is that it's increasingly obvious that we're running up against limits to new [fresh water] supplies," says Peter Gleick, a water expert and president of the Pacific Institute for Studies in Development, Environment, and Security, a nonpartisan think tank in Oakland, Calif. "It's no longer cheap and easy to drill another well or dam another river."

"We have ignored demand for decades, just assuming supplies of water would be there," Dr. Gleick says. "Now we have to learn to manage water demand and -- on top of that -- deal with climate change, too."

In the following video Patrick Barta discusses how Perth, Australia is addressing its growing water shortage.

Related articles:

Michigan House Passes More of Its Water Management Plan

Ohio Agreement to Join Great Lakes Water Plan Stalls Again

Florida Lawmakers Mad About Water

Poaching Water Isn't The Solution

Related posts:

Much Talk About Oil But Little About Water

Falling Bridges and No Water

Georgia Water Crisis: Sorting Out Priorities

US Sales of Municipal Water Systems to Multinational Interests

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