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Observing a Water Shortage in America

Coming from the Australia, where drought and water shortages have ravaged the landscape and toughened the people for the past two hundred years, news like this seems like just deserts for a society that has squandered its resources and extended the welcome of the land that they inhabit. Now I should preface this with a statement: Its not just Americans, its all human beings that waste resources that are precious and finite…

The government projects that at least 36 states will face water shortages within five years because of a combination of rising temperatures, drought, population growth, urban sprawl, waste and excess. “Is it a crisis? If we don’t do some decent water planning, it could be,” said Jack Hoffbuhr, executive director of the Denver-based American Water Works Association. Water managers will need to take bold steps to keep taps flowing, including conservation, recycling, desalination and stricter controls on development.

The Associated Press: Much of U.S. Could See a Water Shortage

So what does this mean for the affluent lifestyles of North American consumerists? What does this mean for all the bureaucrats who believe that water can only be used once, then must flow to a treatment plant. “It’s not safe”, they cry, “we can’t let you water the garden with graywater, it’s gray!” (It’s not really gray by the way).

Blind Ignorance

I’ve read so many discouraging comments on some blog and news articles recently, from people who really believe, or really want to believe that there is no shortage of resources, and the in a couple of years we’ll all be worried about global cooling rather than warming.

 From the article in the Times online….

The speed at which mankind has used the Earth?s resources over the past 20 years has put ?humanity?s very survival? at risk, a study involving 1,400 scientists has concluded.

From the comments….

another useless report from the u.n.

A couple of facts –
1 – The warmest year on record was 1938.
2 – The warm period during the 1400’s was much warmer than it is now.
3 – A warm period that lasted for 300 years about 8,000 BC was much warmer than today.
4 – Al Gore flunked college twice.
Base upon these facts, how can anyone claim that humans cause global warming?

These reports out of the UN are hogwash! I would like to see the UN relegated to only providing diplomatic channels between governments. Get it out of the research/study bandwagon! One way to do this would be to have member nations reduce funding to the UN.

‘Humanity’s very survival’ is at risk, says UN – Times Online

Are people so ignorant to believe that these global environmental concerns are a political maneuver? Perhaps natural selection is valid?

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A Solution?

Would a solution that may please both groups be in order? Remove the restrictive control of local water supply from the government and encourage people to be responsible for collecting and treating their own water to drink. Allowing (and even encouraging) reuse of water, onsite treatment and innovation at the grassroots level would reduce the interference in natural processes by governments that mean well, but often do more harm than good. It would also have the benefit of helping the short sighted in our societies to quit taking the resources literally on tap for granted and encouraging local cluster networks of water storage, treatment, reuse and disposal.

Now this seems radical to some, but if we don’t move away from rigid regulation towards something that is flexible and allows local innovation and community stewardship over resources, when something happens that disrupts the system, it will be serious. They building the water infrastructure to meet the demands,rules and regulations, they now realize that they don’t have the resources! But people aren’t turning the taps off!

My idea is the opposite to the American lifestyle, where everything is big, and big is better. Simplify your life, simplify you resources, and help sustain your community and the environment that you rely on.

 My thoughts haven’t been crystal clear in this post, it’s late, I’m tired and I want to be legally able to live sustainably, without interference from government. 

Mike Thomas

Mike Thomas P.Eng. ENV SP, is the author of UrbanWorkbench.com and Director of Engineering at the City of Revelstoke in the Interior of British Columbia, Canada. If I post something here that you find helpful as you navigate the world of engineering, planning and building communities, that’s wonderful. But when push comes to shove: This is my personal blog. The views expressed on these pages are mine alone and not those of my employer.