mm253: Water – casus belli for a new war between the states?

January 13, 2008

MUDGE’S Musings

The extended drought in the southern reaches of the U.S. have public officials there casting covetous eyes on the Great Lakes.

Not so fast!

salon

How to solve America’s water problems

Hey, Sun Belters, move to the Great Lake states. You can have all the water you want and stop worrying about droughts. Besides, we’re not piping our water south.
By Edward McClelland

Jan. 7, 2008 | As his state endures its worst drought in a century, Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue is praying for rain. Lake Lanier, the reservoir that waters the endlessly growing colossus of metro Atlanta, is receding from its banks, shriveling to a shiny puddle. Georgia has restricted car washing and lawn watering. It has shut off its outdoor fountains.

In San Diego, which just experienced its driest summer in recorded history, the hills are charred from October’s wildfires. The state of California is so tapped out that the pumps that carry water from the Sacramento River to San Diego were tightened in December. Water authorities are urging San Diegans to tear up their grass and replace it with cactus and succulent.

Bill Richardson, governor of arid New Mexico, had his region’s plight in mind when he told the Las Vegas Sun that Northern states need to start sharing their water: “I want a national water policy. We need a dialogue between states to deal with issues like water conservation, water reuse technology, water delivery and water production. States like Wisconsin are awash in water.”

Yr (justifiably) humble svt has long been aware that his lifetime residence within a couple of miles of Lake Michigan has meant trouble-free access to water for drinking, cleanliness and even lawn hydration.

While the sunny South always tempted, especially during our region’s extended DecemberApril winter season; especially as deserted factories were converted to trendy loft condominia; especially as tent pole corporate headquarters disappeared with numbing regularity as national and international new owners gutted them; proximate family and, let’s face it, inertia have combined to keep us in the same neighborhood, actually, as our family moved to 50 years ago. Two miles from a Great Lake.

In spite of those especiallies,” in the light of the current water shortages crippling the good life all over the seductive Sunbelt, standing pat in the Midwest looks like a good call.

Salon’s extended story is worth your time:

[Please click the link below for the complete article — but then please come on back!]

How to solve America’s water problems | Salon News

All you refugees from winter: maybe it’s time to rethink your great escape.

Why are you surprised that when you move to a desert (you sun-baked denizens of Las Vegas, Albuquerque, Scottsdale, San Diego and Los Angeles, I’m talking to you) water is a bit scarce?

Be proud, Atlantans, of your fast-growing status (a couple of years ago your Hartsfield airport passed Chicago-O’Hare as the nation’s busiest an honor we have cheerfully ceded), but guess what? You’ve outgrown your region’s fresh water supply, and you, and Florida and Alabama are suffering.

Sorry, no way are we going to share. In fact, we’ve a bone to pick with our Michigan neighbors who’ve let Nestlé start sucking up industrial quantities of bottled water for sale outside our region.

And Salon quotes an expert who asserts that Bill Richardson’s presidential ambitions were drought-stricken after those covetous remarks:

“Water diversion is the third rail of Great Lakes politics,” says Peter Annin, author of “The Great Lakes Water Wars.” “It’s the one issue that unites Democrats and Republicans. Bill Richardson’s candidacy is over because of his comments. You throw Ohio, Illinois, Michigan, Pennsylvania, New York out of the mix, it’s really hard to win an election.”

Salon author Edward McClelland even goes so far as to invite you thirsty refugees back home to the Great Lakes.

Come on in, the water’s fine!

It’s it for now. Thanks,

–MUDGE

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mm206: It’s 10:30pm — Do you know where your tap water has been?

November 27, 2007

MUDGE’S Musings

While most of the world frets about the $100/barrel cost of petroleum, another resource shortage has been looming at the outskirts of our attention.

Water.

Our SUVs will grind to a halt without the former.

Life will grind to a halt without the latter.

In many parts of the world the growing shortage [note to self: as a writer, can you live with the contradiction in terms?] of water for agriculture and drinking purposes is already a critical issue. Governments can print money, but the planet’s supply of water is apparently finite, especially the fresh variety.

Which leads us, as in many instances, to California. You’ll remember California, the home of huge redwood forests, spectacular ocean vistas, and once arid deserts now populated by tens of millions of people.

Water is imported into this residential desert from as far away as Colorado, and as the population, and agricultural activity that supports it grows, the potable supply in many cities is insufficient.

Which leads us to today’s story, courtesy as so many are, of the NYTimes.

November 27, 2007

From Sewage, Added Water for Drinking

By RANDAL C. ARCHIBOLD

FOUNTAIN VALLEY, Calif. — It used to be so final: flush the toilet, and waste be gone.

But on Nov. 30, for millions of people here in Orange County, pulling the lever will be the start of a long, intense process to purify the sewage into drinking water — after a hard scrubbing with filters, screens, chemicals and ultraviolet light and the passage of time underground.

On that Friday, the Orange County Water District will turn on what industry experts say is the world’s largest plant devoted to purifying sewer water to increase drinking water supplies. They and others hope it serves as a model for authorities worldwide facing persistent drought, predicted water shortages and projected growth.

The process, called by proponents “indirect potable water reuse” and “toilet to tap” by the wary, is getting a close look in several cities.

It’s a clever system, actually, not directly sending the output of the reclamation project to the taps.

groundwater

[Please click the link below for the complete article — but then please come on back!]

From Sewage, Added Water for Drinking – New York Times

Water. We’ve covered it here before. It’s a universal theme.

Anyone remember the amazing Polanski/Nicholson/Huston/Dunaway film “Chinatown“? Its plot driver was the 1930s surreptitious provision of irrigation water for the orange groves of the San Fernando valley, now the northern bedroom suburbs of Los Angeles.

In the past, MUDGE was always grateful for living quite near one of the Great Lakes, a seemingly reliable and endless resource.

That was then. Now, between wrestling with states and cities in the dry West that would love to get hold of some of that lovely stuff, and fending off the likes of Nestlé, largest marketer of bottled water in the world, whose facility in Michigan has begun to deplete bottomless Lake Michigan, our Great Lakes-adjacent location is not looking so comfortable.

So, technology might provide an answer, as it might for so many of civilization’s issues.

One solution that out of desperation has been tried in many parts of the world is desalinization, the conversion of salt water (¾ of the planet’s surface, or so we’re told) to fresh. After all, California (the state in question) has many hundreds of miles of oceanfront. However, desalinization turns out to be frightfully expensive, both in dollar terms, as well as, I was interested to learn, in environmental terms as well.

Impacts of desalination include brine build-up, increased greenhouse gas emissions, destruction of prized coastal areas and reduced emphasis on conservation of rivers and wetlands. Many of the areas of most intensive desalination activity also have a history of damaging natural water resources, particularly groundwater.

Desalination: Option Or Distraction For A Thirsty World?

Okay, so I understand it’s a closed system, this Spaceship Earth we all inhabit. Over the course of eons, water cycles through salt and fresh, and the Groundwater Replenishment System called out above is an attempt to provide some of that cyclic advantage, cosmetically at least.

We’ve long taken fresh potable water for granted in the Western world. Our desert west and its growing crisis is only a harbinger.

Like so many of our bedrock expectations, a planet heading for 9billion humans will seismically shift those watery assumptions.

Cheers!

It’s it for now. Thanks,

–MUDGE