Water/Resource Scarcity

  • News
  • Thread starter Astronuc
  • Start date
  • #1
Astronuc
Staff Emeritus
Science Advisor
18,753
1,807

Main Question or Discussion Point

Is this a sign of things to come?

An Arid West No Longer Waits for Rain
http://www.nytimes.com/2007/04/04/us/04drought.html

A Western drought that began in 1999 has continued after the respite of a couple of wet years that now feel like a cruel tease. . . .

Some $2.5 billion in water projects are planned or under way in four states, the biggest expansion in the West’s quest for water in decades. Among them is a proposed 280-mile pipeline that would direct water to Las Vegas from northern Nevada. A proposed reservoir just north of the California-Mexico border would correct an inefficient water delivery system that allows excess water to pass to Mexico.
Well there is very little left in the Colorado river by the time it gets to the Gulf of California. In fact sometimes there is no water getting to the Gulf.

In Yuma, Ariz., federal officials have restarted an idled desalination plant, long seen as a white elephant from a bygone era, partly in the hope of purifying salty underground water for neighboring towns.

The scramble for water is driven by the realities of population growth, political pressure and the hard truth that the Colorado River, a 1,400-mile-long silver thread of snowmelt and a lifeline for more than 20 million people in seven states, is providing much less water than it had.

. . . .

In one of the most acrimonious disputes, Montana filed a suit in February at the United States Supreme Court accusing Wyoming of taking more than its fair share of water from . . .

Preparing for worst-case outcomes, the seven states . . . what to do if the river cannot meet the demand for water, a prospect that some experts predict will occur in about five years.

“What you are hearing about global warming, explosive growth . . .
I don't think water should be take en-masse from one region to feed another region simply because people move there, e.g. Las Vegas. The government should not enable irresponsible behavior.
 

Answers and Replies

  • #2
BobG
Science Advisor
Homework Helper
185
80
Yes, it is a sign of things to come. In a less civilized environment, some cities and/or state would be going to war with each other soon.

Agreements for Colorado River water were based on water flows in 1992, a year in one of the wettest spans in the last 5 centuries. As soon as population increased, there were sure to be problems even without droughts.

Water is a hot topic for just about every issue that comes up. Developers think infrastructure for new neighborhoods should be shared by all of the city's water users. Many in the city think the cost of new infrastructure should be part of the cost of new homes (that would raise the price around $60,000).

Why pay extra money in taxes to encourage more competition for a scarce commodity that will also raise the rates you'll have to pay for water?

Colorado Springs is nearly at war with its neighbor to the South, Pueblo. Colorado Springs bought water rights from someone who purchased the water rights of farmers downstream of Pueblo. Colorado Springs wants to build a delivery system to pump the water they bought from the reservoir in Pueblo to Colorado Springs. Pueblo is blocking the effort to build the delivery system through their county. Colorado Springs can't access the water it legally owns. The retaliation might be for Colorado Springs to take the water further upstream from Pueblo, reducing water flow to Pueblo's water sports park.

With population growth, Denver, Colorado Springs, Pueblo and the other cities along I-25 that are growing so quickly will have to pump water from the Colorado River over the mountains and down to the I-25 corridor. They'll run into problems long before they reach the limit agreed to by the 1922 agreement. With most of the population East of the Front Range and no way to get water from the West side of the mountains, most of the water Colorado has been entitled to has flowed on down the river, out of the state. Cities in Nevada, Arizona, and California have come to rely on Colorado's share of the water and will start raising a ruckus as soon as Colorado starts using its legal share. Utah cities are growing fast, as well, and will want the share they're legally entitled to, but haven't used in the past.

That means just about every state involved in the agreement will be fighting with each other in the courts forever more. And with the agreements being based on one of the wettest years, every state involved in the fight will be fighting for water that they're legally entitled to, but doesn't exist. At least the fighting isn't with guns, at least for the forseeable future.
 
Last edited:
  • #3
Skyhunter
Not just in the west, but everywhere, water is going to be a problem.

I am working with a non profit right now doing urban watershed assessments.

Eventually we will have a comprehensive inventory of building/roof types and how they might be best utilized to meet local water, energy, and food needs.

Installing a light weight living roof on existing homes is initially more expensive than a cheap asphalt membrane, but over the long term they are very cost effective. Couple it with a cistern and you have cooled and filtered water. One excellent use of this water is for landscape irrigation.

I hear there are places in Texas where rainwater catchment systems are the norm.

I believe that the solutions to our problems are not all that complicated. mostly what it comes down to is public education, and municipal leadership.

"Think Globally, Act Locally", is more than just a cliche.
 
  • #4
960
0
Things are indeed looking bleak in Colorado but the growth continues to be phenomenal. Its interesting that as the belt tightens worldwide, water exportation in the form of grain is becoming more and more commonplace.

http://www.earth-policy.org/Updates/Update15.htm [Broken]

Despite the reassureances of some that we haven't come close to the carrying capacity of the planet, I see a lot of information that suggests we have already exceeded it.
 
Last edited by a moderator:
  • #5
drankin
There is plenty of fresh water up north. Massive delivery systems are going to be the engineering challenge of the future. As well as enormous desalination projects (plenty of ocean on the planet). It's more of a water transport issue than anything else.
 
  • #6
67
165
The Central Arizona Project open canal runs 340 miles uphill from the Colorado River to Tucson. It is our life source yet we keep on building and many new subdivisions have their own golf courses.

Ironically state law requires that a developer prove that his subdivision has a 100 year guaranteed water supply. Some how the builders keep coming up with their state approved certificates of water supply. Good lobbyists are indispensable.:rolleyes:

In the meantime in Tucson:

Arizona Daily Star
Tucson, Arizona | Published: 04.04.2007
advertisementTucson businesses, apartment complexes and industries may face water-use restrictions by 2010 because of the relentless drought, the city's water chief said Tuesday.
Tucson Water Director David Modeer's prediction came after a warning from federal officials that this spring's runoff into Lake Powell — which stores Colorado River water — will be barely 50 percent of normal.


The Upper Colorado River Basin experienced five consecutive years of extreme drought from September 1999 through September 2004. In the summer of 1999, Lake Powell was essentially full with reservoir storage at 97 percent of capacity. Inflow volumes for five consecutive water years were significantly below average. Total unregulated inflow in water years 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, and 2004 was 62, 59, 25, 51, and 49 percent of average, respectively. Lake Powell storage decreased through this five-year period, with reservoir storage reaching a low of 8.0 million acre-feet (33 percent of capacity) on April 8, 2005.
http://www.usbr.gov/uc/water/crsp/cs/gcd.html
 
  • #7
Astronuc
Staff Emeritus
Science Advisor
18,753
1,807
Some how the builders keep coming up with their state approved certificates of water supply. Good lobbyists are indispensable.
I wonder how many builders are counting the same sources of water.
 
  • #8
960
0
There is plenty of fresh water up north. Massive delivery systems are going to be the engineering challenge of the future. As well as enormous desalination projects (plenty of ocean on the planet). It's more of a water transport issue than anything else.
A small piece of the planet that does not have these worries. Desalination is OK for coastal communities but to transport the water is a big $$ issue, as you suggest. More energy expended. So if countries are finding it cheaper now to not grow and import , or as Bob H posted, here in Colorado,we have given seroius consideration to pay farmers not to grow, weez in a heap of trouble. Colorado grows primarily grains and corn. Its on the edge of the "breadbasket". You have a growing demand for food, but now need to pay farmers not to grow to meet a contractual obligation. This is serious trouble.
 
  • #9
Pyrrhus
Homework Helper
2,178
1
Another problem with overpumping is not only the fall of the water tables, but the contamination of fresh water with seawater (the Ghyben-Herzberg equilibrium).
 
  • #10
ShawnD
Science Advisor
668
1
There is a shortage of water in certain areas of Alberta (Canada) as well. Small towns like Stettler are growing so quickly that water needs to be piped from the city of Red Deer, about 70km away. This project alone isn't too big, but this will probably start happening more and more as Alberta's population continues to grow.
 
  • #11
67
165
I wonder how many builders are counting the same sources of water.
The City of Tucson is now saying that within 5 to 10 years we will have to start RO filtering of sewage effluent. It will then be added to our tap water. That thought kinda leaves a bad taste in my mouth.:rolleyes:

Las Vegas pumps it's water out of lake Mead, but when the lake reached only 60 percent capacity they had to lower their intake pipes. The intake pipes are located only six miles from where they dump 150 million gallons of treated sewage every day.:surprised

Hydroelectric production at both lakes Mead and Powell is threatened.
 
  • #12
Art
We have a water problem here in ireland too.

We can't lay new supply pipes because it won't stop raining long enough. :rofl:
 
  • #13
23
0
Another problem with overpumping is not only the fall of the water tables, but the contamination of fresh water with seawater (the Ghyben-Herzberg equilibrium).
Over here most of the country's water supply is networked. During winter they sometimes reverse the pumps and pump water from the mains into the shore aquifer because of this problem.
 

Related Threads on Water/Resource Scarcity

  • Last Post
Replies
2
Views
1K
  • Last Post
Replies
24
Views
33K
  • Last Post
Replies
3
Views
1K
  • Last Post
Replies
9
Views
5K
  • Last Post
Replies
6
Views
2K
  • Last Post
Replies
15
Views
750
  • Poll
  • Last Post
2
Replies
34
Views
5K
Replies
64
Views
37K
Replies
1
Views
7K
Top