Friday, November 13, 2009

Dept. of We Are So Fucked: Are You Ready For Domestic Water Wars?

Only one percent of the Earth's entire store of water is potable. There's a 50/50 chance that, by 2017--merely 8 years--Lake Mead will become useless mud-puddle. Oh, and here, in the high Chihuahuan? The Rio Grande's down to a trickle, and the Ogalalla acquifer is receding at a record pace. Mebbe I can get along on whiskey? Gonna be damn hard on the dogs, though...

Via AlterNet:

California's Water Crisis Is Just the
Beginning for Water Woes in the U.S.

By Susan J. Marks, AlterNet. Posted November 13, 2009.
Legislators silenced some of the outcry over water in California last week with the passage of a sweeping water-reform bill.

But the thirst for water in California, and across the country, has only just begun.

Many Californians blame their water problems on drought, the Endangered Species Act (the "farmers vs. fish" debate) and inadequate infrastructure.

Others point to mismanagement, overallocated water rights and a lack of conservation. The reasons, though, behind the state's water crisis, and that which threatens the rest of the country and many places around the globe, go well beyond that.

Fresh water, once considered Earth's infinite, simply is not inexhaustible. Demand has soared, and supplies dwindled. Factor in climate change and drought, and the result is shortage and conflict over what's left.

The contentious battles plaguing California over the past year -- marches, protests, dried-up fields, demands for massive aid, and more -- will spread across the country. Sooner rather than later our once-abundant water taps could run dry, and the water battles to come will make the health care debate seem like a tea party.

Why such doom and gloom? Water is the new oil, only there is no alternative. Every living being on this planet needs water to survive. Each of us has a vested interest in this elixir of life.

Complicating the equation, no one wants to relinquish his or her share. California approved a controversial water reform, but stay tuned. Californians still thirst for diminishing supplies, as do other areas of the country.

Beyond drought, fish and canals, overpopulation exacerbates our water troubles. The U.S. population is up more than 70 percent in the last 50 years. With that boom comes huge demands for water, and not only to drink. It takes water to produce and deliver our energy, grow our food, manufacture our goods, mine our minerals, and even to deliver the water we drink.

Populations, too, have moved to where the water is not. Arid cities like Albuquerque, N.M.; Phoenix; Tucson, Ariz.; Dallas; Denver and Las Vegas have limited water supplies.

In a paper written in February 2008, researchers at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California predict a 50 percent chance that by 2017 Lake Mead, the primary water supply for Las Vegas, will hit "dead pool" status. That's when the lake's water level drops below the intakes for Hoover Dam, energy production ceases and no more water is released downstream. ("When Will Lake Mead Go Dry?" [PDF] by Tim Barnett, a research marine physicist, and David Pierce, a climate scientist.)
This is only part of the bad news. Read the rest at the site in the link above. And start saving your spit...

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