Oil the elixir that runs industry,water the elixir that sustains life and industry.What happens if the U.S. runs out of water, oil may not be as important as we think?
A real dilemma facing our country that is raising the worst question of all. What happens if and when our water supply runs out? We can have oil and fuels, but if our water supply starts failing or begins to run out, what then? Unfortunately, this is happening now to our water supply in the US - I am not a voice in the wilderness or an alarmist, but people realize our water resources are being strained and even conservation of water that is being required by a lot of states may or may not help. Without water, our oil issues will seem somewhat small.
Era of Water Scarcity
Scientists and resource specialists say freshwater scarcity, even in unexpected places, threatens farm productivity, limits growth, increases business expenses, and drains local treasuries.
That’s desert. It was never meant to have cities. There are millions of people there, and they all have one water supply, only one, the Colorado.
“I truly believe we are moving into an era of water scarcity throughout the United States” said Peter Gleick, science adviser to Circle of Blue and president of the Pacific Institute, a think tank specializing in water issues based in Oakland, California. “That by itself is going to force us to adopt more efficient management techniques.”
FromCircle of Blue, an interview with the Pacific Institutes’s Dr. Peter Gleick discusses water resource challenges the U.S. faces in the near future. As co-founder and president of one of the nation’s leading water think tanks, Gleick served as an academician at the International Water Academy in Oslo, Norway in 1999 and was named a MacArthur Fellow in 2003. He was also elected to the National Academy of Sciences in Washington D.C in 2006. Gleick currently serves as a science adviser for Circle of Blue.
(Above: Picture from Circle of Blue)
Lake Mead and the Hoover Dam make a bold statement of the U.S. water systems. Lake Mead is low and in a drought condition.
Striking symbols of American engineering prowess, Lake Mead and the Hoover Dam stand in testimony to the U.S. spirit of growth and prosperity. But the 28.5 million* acre-foot Lake Mead is shrinking, as an ever-thirsty nation sprawls across the desert and consumes the waters of the Colorado in an increasingly unsustainable way.
(*Anacre-footis a unit of volume commonly used in the U.S. in reference to large-scale water resources, such as reservoirs, aqueducts, canals, sewer flow capacity, and river flows.)
However, the We cannot take water for granted anywhere in any form in the US!
Just as diminishing supplies of oil and natural gas are wrenching the economy and producing changes in lifestyles built on the principle of plenty, states and communities across the country are confronting another significant impediment to the American way of life:increased competition for scarce water. Scientists and resource specialists say freshwater scarcity, even in unexpected places, threatens farm productivity, limits growth, increases business expenses, and drains local treasuries. TheU.S. Drought Monitor,a weekly online report produced by the Department of Agriculture and the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration, shows that severe drought still grips much of the American Southeast, is spreading east from California across the Rocky Mountains, and has also settled in the Texas Panhandle and parts of Oklahoma and Colorado.
While agriculture in the Colorado Basin faces shortages, farmers to the east in the high plains - tapping theOgallala Aquifer- have progressively seen their wells dry up.The aquifer is the largest in the United States and sees a depletion rate of some 12 billion cubic meters a year, a quantity equivalent to 18 times the annual flow of the Colorado River.Since pumping started in the 1940s, Ogallala water levels have dropped by more than 100 feet (30 meters) in some areas.
Kevin Dennehey, program coordinator for theGround-Water Resources Programat the U.S. Geological Survey, said, “The problem with the aquifer is that it’’s a limited resource. There is not an unlimited supply, so the recharge is much less than the withdrawals.”
(Above: Large automatic spraying system for crops in the midwest.)
How much longer will this type of irrigation be utilized before the Ogallala Aquifer becomes completely exhausted? I mentioned in aprevious postabout the effect growing corn has had on the midwestern states’ water supply.
With the aquifer being depleted so rapidly, what is going to happen to ethanol production that depends on corn crops that have to be heavily irrigated to maintain high yields?The prognosis for farmers, whose irrigation accounts for 94 percent of the groundwater useon the high plains, does not look optimistic. In the future,irrigation may not be possible at all as the levels continue to drop past the well intakes of farmers.More likely, before the pumping stops, the cost of drilling and maintaining deeper wells may exceed the value of what can be grown, severely limiting the farmland’s value. “There is no other water available,” said Dennehey.
including drought in Georgia, “In Atlanta, where a severe drought also persists, authorities pressed residents to reduce water use, successfully. Then leaders of the city’s Watershed Management Department, concerned about declining revenue to operate the system, asked permission to raise rates. Officials in Fulton County, where Atlanta is located, did the same thing, praising residents for their efforts at conservation — then increasing their rates by 15 percent. If approved by the city council, the average residential water bill in Atlanta would jump from $84 to $107 next year. ” The gravity of the situation hasn’t set in for most Americans. In Atlanta, where drought dramatically lowered Lake Lanier, the region’s primary reservoir, water scarcity is generally seen as temporary, and not related to how the region has grown. Water levels have risen slightly in Lake Lanier, but drought conditions still continue and as long as Atlanta uses over 2 billion gallons a day from a extremely low reservoir, the problem continues to be a serious problem.
Is there a water problem in the US? Most compelling information on this post. Water is the elixir of life and if we run out, oilwill be hard to swallow!
Map:circleofblue.org- Extent of state shortages likely over the next decade under average rain fall conditions.