To The Daily Sun,
In a letter I wrote a few days ago, I mentioned the trend toward privatization of water sources. The question has to be asked: How has the for-profit water business worked out? In the previous letter I mentioned the Ogallala aquifer has been use and abused and is a very sick patient that has no doctor to cure it. For those who care to read further about it I recommend, "Ogallala Blue," by William Ashworth. He contends that wheat, corn and cattle feed farming coupled with ethanol production using water pumped from the aquifer to irrigate those crops is the for profit operation that is killing the Ogallala. Understandably, Bill is not popular in the Great Plains because nobody out there wants to hear about the cure.
Another example of a colossal misuse of an aquifer is what happened in Saudi Arabia. The Saudis, more famous for their oil, went after the huge Arabian aquifer in the late sixties. Suddenly, after they drilled deep wells, the desert bloomed. The production of grain for export became a reality. Many of the wells were over 2000 feet deep. Alas, Saudi Arabia now produces very little grain and many of the oases are drying up. The aquifer is almost dry.
Those are but two examples of aquifer abuse. Many more examples exist. For those of us who are reluctant readers, I recommend a DVD based on a book. It's called "Blue Gold." Try to watch it early enough in the evening so you can have time to calm down before trying to sleep. It's not a horror flick, but got my sense of fear going I'm here to tell you! "Blue Gold" is a narrative about the coming world water wars. The subtitle of the book was "The Fight to Stop the Corporate Theft of the
Both the DVD and the book by Maude Barlow and Tony Clark try to document how the parties vying for control of our dwindling fresh water supply are getting control despite protest and lawsuits.
Withdrawal laws that govern the removal of water vary from state to state in the U.S. The same can be said for the major countries of the world. Because of this hodge-podge of water right laws, the big players are grabbing land or water rights in an effort to control the supply. The third-world countries will suffer the most because they have little or no infrastructure to handle water. Their efforts to feed their populations with sustainable agricultural programs requires help and guidance from the developed countries of the world. The giant corporations are stepping in with the help using public funds to finance private systems. Those systems are for profit, of course.
Unfortunately, under-financed and poorly operated agricultural efforts produce crops that don't meet the dietary needs of the citizens.
The NASA Jet Propulsion Lab is using satellites in the process of studying thirty-seven of the world's largest aquifers. Their objective is two-fold: 1. To evaluate their future viability and 2. To come up with a plan to sustain the food production on the surface as well as bringing a balance between the amounts taken and the recharge. Both objectives are possible but hard to achieve without cooperation.
Unfortunately, politics and privatization are working against sustainability. Those with profit motives and political attitudes are
ignoring those who are warning about a future in which an increase population and a decrease in food production will create a crisis of epic proportions. The collision of need with a lack of production capability is already a fact in many African and Asian countries.
Starvation is not something that most citizens of the developed world are used to seeing but the news media is giving us the real story. Dehydration or the lack of water goes along with the lack of food. Those making decisions about water need a view both to give them a better perspective on what the needs are.
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