There’s been a lot of good ink devoted lately to the subject of the drought and water crisis in the West. I’ve posted several links and articles in months past, especially by Brandon Loomis at the Republic.
I just read a really good new piece by David Owen in The New Yorker that made my head hurt. It’s a long read, but one we should all undertake in order to understand the bad situation in which we are already, ahem, “immersed.” It doesn’t matter whether you believe in man-made climate change, we are in big trouble…even if we were to stop growth in the West tomorrow.
Among Owen’s astute observations:
Even more efficient agricultural practices lead to problems, because runoff due to less efficient methods of the past helped recharge groundwater and surface water.
And, quoting NASA scientist Jay Famiglietti,
“One thing you see from the figures is that, between the end of 2004 and the end of 2013, the Colorado River basin lost fifty cubic kilometres of groundwater. That’s almost two Lake Meads. Everyone is very focused on the bathtub ring and the dropping of the lake, but the rate of disappearance of groundwater is six or seven times greater.”
Groundwater is our water savings account, in essence a “non-rainy day fund.” When it’s gone, we are totally dependent on rainwater, snowmelt, and river flows, all of which have not been very dependable for the last decade.
Here’s a link to Owen’s article in the New Yorker.