Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Where Will The Water Come From?

Hi all!
I've been having some interesting email discussions with friends over the last few days, and figured I'd share them with the Digglings in hopes of starting some virtual conversations.

The first topic results from the "state of emergency" declared by Georgia's governor with respect to water supply issues. I hold this topic close to my heart as it is a large part of what I have done in my career over the years.
So here goes, discussion topic number 1:

The US is literally f*cked when it comes to water supply issues.

The SW has been in trouble for years (too many people living in the desert for crying out loud!!!), Florida's problems have been well documented (as the Everglades rapidly dry up and what used to be Lake Okeechobee is presently on fire), and now places where water seemed plentiful are being affected, like Georgia. It should really come as no surprise because part of Florida's woes result from increased usage by those ahead of them, namely Georgia! The problem is simply moving upstream.

Now, I apologize for going all Naomi Klein on you here, but it is very much related to the "disaster politics" she refers to in her Harper's article last month. She describes the dismantling of public agencies and utilities that are in charge of basic infrastructure, things like highways, bridges and levees, and how private companies are now profiting from the resulting catastrophes. Consider the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina - the US contracted out even the most basic aspects of emergency recovery in New Orleans (they actually contracted the very contracting!) because the Federal Agencies are no longer equipped to do so.

Now some may suggest this is a good thing (profit and all that, I get it), however the well being of our precious natural resources, the ones that humankind relies upon for our survival, can not be left up to private enterprise. Corporate mandates do not include exemptions for the folks downstream. They don't involve putting a little something aside for a rainy day, or in this case for a day when the rains don't come.

The purpose of Federal and State water agencies is to oversee the use of water, and protect the resource. Unfortunately, they no longer have the money (which inevitably restricts their power) to do the job. The result is we see PGA golf courses being built in areas suffering from ten year droughts, and huge housing developments in similarly sensitive locations. Do this enough times and the result is the governor declaring a national water emergency for a state once famous for it's heavy rains.

Go figure.