To The Daily Sun,
Water is the next big crisis. Many of us have been worrying about our water supply and its purity all our lives. You would too, especially if you hailed from the Great Plains and were born in the first half of the 20th Century. Through careful planning and a lot of deep water wells the high plains between the Rocky Mountains and the
Missouri River have recovered from what could have become the next big desert. It now grows vast amounts of wheat and corn.
There is a problem looming for the region in the not too distant future, however. In August, 2016, the National Geographic Magazine contained an article entitled, "The Last Drop." The so-called Ogallala Aquifer is not yet in crisis, but one is rapidly approaching. Eight states share this giant aquifer. The farmers and municipalities that exist within it boundaries are taking out more water than is returned through snow and rain falling on the surface. Some people refer to the process as managed depletion. It is a two-fold problem: 1. How to make a living from the land, and 2. How to stretch the timeline to total
depletion. A third point might be: What will the world do with out that wheat and corn?
Some farmers have seen and understood what is coming and have adopted "dry-farming techniques. Yields are less requiring more acreage to be tilled. Some have made up the difference by selling wind rights to the wind turbine companies. Most of the small family farms are vanishing as farming goes corporate. More than a few small towns have disappeared along with family farm.
The problem of adequate water is not confined to our Great Plains area; it's world-wide. We, here in New Hampshire thought we were immune to issues faced elsewhere but the last couple of years have proven that to be an illusion. A lot of the dug wells and some of the drilled wells ran dry. In addition, a couple of the smaller rivers ceased flowing for a while. Recently, a local river advisory group composed of representatives from towns and cities along the upper Merrimack River from Franklin to Bow, hosted a panel of experts on the subject of drought. The panel, brought together at the St. Paul's School in Concord, consisted of a forester, a water expert from the Department of Environmental Services, a fish biologist from Fish and Game and the manager of the Concord Water Works. First, the DES man laid out the fact and figures relating to the areas that have been impacted the most. Following him was the engineer who explained how the supplying of Concord's was achieved. When their primary source, Long Pond, fails to meet their needs there is a need to go to some secondary sources. Those two sources are the Contoocook River and Turkey Pond. Both those sources have been tapped in recent years. The two remaining panelists identified how lack of water impacted the trees and the fish. Trees are less able to resist insect infestation and low flow in streams raises the water temperatures above those needed for cold-water species.
In the more arid regions of the world water conservation is an accepted part of life because the alternatives are death or migration. Tucson, Arizona is one U.S. city that will soon be facing an empty aquifer. Even though they have cut back usage dramatically, they are having to make plans to reach into adjacent aquifers and to drill deeper.
One of the biggest challenges to our ecosystem is privatization of the water sources. Giant international corporations are buying the rights to pump from existing aquifers. Coca Cola and other bottlers of water are getting into agreements with the aforementioned corporations.
Actually, Coca Cola is one of the major players in the privatization process. Some of the others that dominate the group are Suez, Veolia, Perrier and Bechtel. When you think private, you must also think profit and how much of that is acceptable to the consumer. So, I am going to address that conundrum in a future letter because I am aware of attention span of my readers and the paper's need to keep it short.
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