Wednesday, January 8, 2014

The Next Luxury Only the RIch Can Afford is Water

Back in the 1980s, when there were tens of millions fewer people living in the Colorado River Basin, drought in the Midwest at the same time as high water levels in the Great Lakes got people talking about diverting water from the Great Lakes to the Midwest and Southwest.

At the time, Canada (which has equal rights to the Great Lakes) and the then-powerful Congress members of the Great Lakes states thundered "NO!" and that was it.

But today, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania and New York have far less population and power than they did 30 years ago - and far, FAR less than the boom states of California, Arizona, Utah and Colorado.

I seriously doubt a push from the Southwest to steal Great Lakes water could be stopped.

As for Canada, how about this for a deal? Canada grants its Great Lakes water rights to the Southwestern U.S. in return for the right to build a dozen Keystone Pipelines right through anyplace they want.

From Zandar:

The once mighty Colorado River is nothing more than a muddy stream these days as millions of folks in southwestern states depend on it for drinking water. But climate change and population growth have put a critical strain on the river, and water rights are turning into the next great battleground between the states.

The once broad and blue river has in many places dwindled to a murky brown trickle. Reservoirs have shrunk to less than half their capacities, the canyon walls around them ringed with white mineral deposits where water once lapped. Seeking to stretch their allotments of the river, regional water agencies are recycling sewage effluent, offering rebates to tear up grass lawns and subsidizing less thirsty appliances from dishwashers to shower heads.

But many experts believe the current drought is only the harbinger of a new, drier era in which the Colorado’s flow will be substantially and permanently diminished.

Faced with the shortage, federal authorities this year will for the first time decrease the amount of water that flows into Lake Mead, the nation’s largest reservoir, from Lake Powell 180 miles upstream. That will reduce even more the level of Lake Mead, a crucial source of water for cities from Las Vegas to Los Angeles and for millions of acres of farmland.

The labyrinthine rules by which the seven Colorado states share the river’s water are rife with potential points of conflict. And while some states have made huge strides in conserving water — and even reducing the amount they consume — they have yet to chart a united path through shortages that could last years or even decades.

“There is no planning for a continuation of the drought we’ve had,” said one expert on the Colorado’s woes, who asked not to be identified to preserve his relationship with state officials. “There’s always been within the current planning an embedded hope that somehow, things would return to something more like normal.”
Massive drought fueled by climate change is the new "normal". Maybe when enough red states in the Mountain West and Midwest are suffering from crippling drought, the GOP legislatures that run them will do something, especially when food prices shoot up across the country as farmland bakes in the sun with no irrigation.
Nope. They'll just steamroll right over the Rust Belt, cut a tar sands deal with Canada and dust off those '80s plans to divert the largest freshwater source in the world to the desert.

Not that that will save them.

No comments: