Water … Right Here All Along

by Elizabeth Cutright,  Editor, Water Efficiency

Water News in a Nutshell.


Gazette’s Summary:  It is not our water resources but our constant need for more water that needs to be reassessed. We assume that economic development and population growth require an endlessly increasing water supply.  We need to challenge this assumption and consider the fact that we already have enough.

Drought, pollution, climate change . . . all these challenges, and more, threaten our water supplies, forcing many communities to seek out new water sources, including reuse, desalination, and rainwater catchment.

But what if we already had enough water to meet our needs? What if it’s our needs that need to be studied and recalibrated?

That’s the theory posited by a group of panelists who recently presented their finding at a discussion hosted by the New York Academy of Sciences. The panelists, including Brian Richter (director of global freshwater strategies for The Nature Conservancy), Peter Gleick (co-founder of the nonprofit, Pacific Institute), Adam Freed (director of the Nature Conservancy’s Global Security Water Program), and Brooke Barton (Water Program Leader for Ceres) all agreed that when it comes to meeting future water needs, conservation is key (http://news.yahoo.com/wheres-water-future-190622108.html).

We must find a way to endure with the resources that are already available to us.

“I related it to my personal banking account,” Richter is quoted as saying in an article about the panel discussion on Yahoo News. Quoting a friend, he explained, “If I am overdrafting my personal bank account, it is going to do me no good to open up another account. You can’t build your way out of the problem. We are not making any new water.”

“The assumption that our demand for water has to go up with population and economy is a false assumption,” explained Gleick in the same article.

In order for conservation to work, the panelists agreed that a consortium of advocates must be tapped, including the agricultural community and the corporate world. And while irrigation has continued to increase in efficiency, a study conducted by Ceres last year revealed that “many large companies were far behind the curve with regard to water conservation,” according to Barton.

The price of water must also be recalculated to reflect its true cost, said Richter who also warned, “We do have to be careful not to raise the price out of the [range of] affordability of the poor.”

Maybe most importantly, Gleick believes we must wean ourselves from a tendency to use that past as a barometer for the future.

“Our water systems were designed for yesterday’s climate, and managed for yesterday’s climate,” he continued. “We have to deal with variability,” said Gleick. “But climate change may also impose unexpected problems that our past experience isn’t sufficient to deal with.”

Source:  Water Efficiency

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