Water Runs Dry – North American Water Crisis Collectively the United States is ranked as the greatest consumers of water worldwide; a startling fact for a country that cannot support its own unrivaled demands (Barlow, 2007). The United States is now crucially dependent on nonrenewable groundwater for a staggering 50% of its daily water usage (Barlow, 2007). In addition to such formidable numbers, citizens of the United States use and waste up 80-100 gallons or 454 liters of water per day (Perlman, 2009).
The United States simply doesn’t possess enough fresh water or renewable sources of water to keep up with its gross demands. Nearly 40% of U. S waters are deemed unsafe for recreational activities such as fishing and even swimming (Barlow, 2007). The Ogallala Aquifer accounts for 95% of the United State’s groundwater, but it is being pumped so rapidly, that not enough rainwater is provided the chance to replenish the source. As a result 12 billion cubic meters (bcm) a year is extracted a year which amounts to 325 bcm of total depletion; equal to the yearly flow of eighteen Colorado Rivers (BBC, 2000).
At the current rates, thirty-six states stand to confront similar water crisis compared to California within the next five years (Barlow, 2007). As, the United States water crisis continues to spiral violently downhill, its neighbor, Canada has already quickly followed this American trend. Dramatically changing climates has had an indelible impact on North America’s water crisis; being the root to many distressing issues. The most physically visible of these issues is the rapid melting of glaciers in the North that have been wearing thin due to increasing temperatures.
The result of these melting glaciers means rivers in Canada such as the Alberta Bow’s in 50 years will be left with absolutely no flowing water aside from occasional flash floods that won’t be able to permanently restore the river (Barlow, 2007). Melting glaciers overseas will also become a very important concern as water from glaciers account for half of the worlds freshwater which at this current rate will not be able to sustain future generations. Glaciers that are melting in the seas translate to tremendous and unaffordable loss of drinking water as the freshwater diffuses into the saltwater.
Further effects of climate shift will lead to evaporation of lakes which is already transpiring in the St. Lawrence River, Prairies and Great Lakes. However, one catastrophic problem that arises which may silently extinguish entire populations of life is the surging levels of acidity in the oceans; something that is being overlooked. In conclusion, the water crisis in North America has created overwhelming ecological changes, and heavy economic strain as a product of reckless over-consumption of water by humans. The effect of water pollution and vast lack of renewable water will cause great conflicts between the nations.
With the water supply rapidly draining, practically Canada’s ‘abundance’ of freshwater, there needs to be a global consciousness towards the crisis. In order for North America and the world to curb the water crisis, there must first be realization and acknowledge by everyone that it exists. The next step to hindering the crisis is to sacrifice and reduce as much wasting of renewable water resources as possible, especially here in the developed world, where people are fortunate to have the surplus of resources to have access to water; whereas billions endure a daily struggle to find a glass of water.
The water crisis affects everyone worldwide and the perception of this crisis being a nation versus nation, every country for themselves affair will ultimately lead to catastrophic war over water. We need to be unified in finding plausible solutions and start treating renewable water for what it is-a finite resource. Our generations always discuss about how the future will never see beautiful national parks and magnificent landscapes, but at this rate they may not ever lay eyes on lakes or rivers as the water runs dry.
References BBC. (2009). World Water Crisis. _ BBC_. Retrieved April 21, 2009, http://www. bizjournals. com /losangeles/stories/2009/04/20/daily19. html Los Angeles Business. (2009). California to restart 5,000 projects. Los Angeles Business. _ _ Retrieved April 21, 2009, http://www. bizjournals. com/losangeles/stories/2009/04/20/ daily19. html Perlman, H. (2008). Irrigation water use. USGS. Retrieved April 21, 2009, http://ga. water. usgs. gov/edu/wuir. html Perlman, H (2009).
Water Q&A: Water use at home. USGS. Retrieved April 21, 2009, http:// ga. water. usgs. gov/edu/wuir. html Science Daily. (1999). Water Over Water Predicted by United Nations Environmental Official. Science Daily. Retrieved April 21, 2009, http://www. sciencedaily. com/releases/1999/ 01/990106075344. htm Yi, M. (2009). Water projects to get $260 million of stimulus. San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved April 21, 2009, http://www. sfgate. com/cgi-bin/article. cgi? f=/c/a/2009 /04/15/MNUQ1735QH. DTL
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