We have a severe and dangerous water problem in the Unites States.  We’re running out of that liquid gold and there’s no way to replace what we’re using at the rate we’re using it.  We can live without oil or natural gas or electricity.  We cannot survive a week without water.

Sure, we lived through the Dust Bowl Days and the horrific droughts of the 1930’s — but that didn’t stop us from building cities in the middle of the desert and the lack of such a precious resource didn’t stop us from planting tons of trees and lots of agriculture that our water tables could not naturally support.  Now, we’re not only in danger of growing fewer crops, we’re tempting the death of our Empire in total loss swaths of our nation as water wells and aquifers naturally dry up and die.

Vast stretches of Texas farmland lying over the aquifer no longer support irrigation. In west-central Kansas, up to a fifth of the irrigated farmland along a 100-mile swath of the aquifer has already gone dry. In many other places, there no longer is enough water to supply farmers’ peak needs during Kansas’ scorching summers. And when the groundwater runs out, it is gone for good. Refilling the aquifer would require hundreds, if not thousands, of years of rains.

Drying out isn’t just a USA issue.  Water is in world crises as the the revolution in Syria demonstrates the want to kill for clean water:

Then, between 2006 and 2011, some 60 percent of Syria’s land mass was ravaged by the drought and, with the water table already too low and river irrigation shrunken, it wiped out the livelihoods of 800,000 Syrian farmers and herders, the United Nations reported. “Half the population in Syria between the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers left the land” for urban areas during the last decade, said Aita. And with Assad doing nothing to help the drought refugees, a lot of very simple farmers and their kids got politicized. “State and government was invented in this part of the world, in ancient Mesopotamia, precisely to manage irrigation and crop growing,” said Aita, “and Assad failed in that basic task.”

Las Vegas, a town built entirely in the desert, without any natural water resources, tips the fealty of the land against itself and its neighbors:

Dying cities, like dying people, reveal their characters near the end. Some go out with dignity, others grasp wildly at any scheme to avoid their fate, no matter at what harm to others. Case in point: Las Vegas, a clutch of casinos, bars and brothels built in the worst place you could build a city, in order to cater to the worst urges of human nature. Now this synthetic oasis in the desert is running out of water, and proposes a solution consistent with its traditional ethics: we’ll just take somebody else’s water.

Seven States are running out of water:

The United States is in the midst of one of the biggest droughts in recent memory. At last count, over half of the lower 48 states had abnormally dry conditions and are suffering from at least moderate drought. More than 80% of seven states were as of last week in “severe drought,” characterized by crop or pasture loss, water shortage and water restrictions. Depending on whether the hardest-hit regions see significant precipitation, crops yields could fall and drought conditions could persist for months to come. Based on the latest data provided by the U.S. Drought Monitor, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed the seven states running out of water.

What kind of life and democracy can we expect to have as a nation if we run out of water?  We need to turn off the gaudy water fountains in Las Vegas and Kansas City.  We need to close down water parks for their unnecessary wasting of a precious natural resource.  We need to value potable water over every other natural resource — or life as we have come to abuse it — will irrevocably change with our thirsty withering.


  1. This makes frightening reading – especially when this is the first I have heard of the problem. Is this being taken up as a national problem or is it being swept under the carpet – or just ignored?

    In the UK they have hosepipe bans, car was bans and retrictions on water in civic parks when the water tables are low and there has not been enough rain.

    The right to clean drinking water is something very dear to my heart .

    What viable soloutions are available to you as a country ?

    1. The water shortage isn’t getting a lot of play. People who live on the coasts see the ocean — and they think there’s plenty of water out there forever. When you’re landlocked in the flatlands or the desert, your worldview changes a great deal.

      Who owns flowing river water? The old rule used to be a sort of trickle-down theory. The States “above you” were entitled to more water than you just because they could gather it up and store it and divert it before it ever reached you. States like Colorado have a lot of water — due to snowfall — that other States want, but they’re also in shortage mode:


      The States are terrified — especially States like Nebraska where there really aren’t any natural rivers or sources of fresh water that begin there, so they suck out the water table first, and that’s starting to dry up. So, Nebraska just has to sort of slurp it up as the river rolls by… You’re totally dependent on your upstream provider who could, theoretically, cut you off at any time:

      The unfortunate consequence of having two separate sets of regulations — one for surface water and one for groundwater — for a single resource is that excessive groundwater use is depleting rivers and streams and harming senior surface water appropriators in some parts of the state. The problem is most pronounced in the western part of the state where the supply of water is the least and the demand for water is the greatest. Problems exist today because the connection between surface water and groundwater was not well understood when regulations were developed. These problems need to be addressed and resolved so that these two systems can work together for the greater good.


      During the summertime, many cities impose a lawn watering ban — but it really isn’t enough and the penalties aren’t severe enough. The American Dream requires the white picket fence and the green lawn!

      The only way to beat this is to start conserving water right now — but people are selfish and uneducated, and they won’t do anything to help until there’s nothing left and no chance for recovery.

  2. the two sets of regulations are not going to help.

    In the UK the water in rivers and streams belongs to the water authority until it floods your land and causes damage – then it belongs to God ! If you have a water mill or any form of water feature fed by a stream you have to pay for the water that enters it – even if it just passes through and is returned with no loss.

    In the suburbs do they preserve rain water – collect it in gutters and barrels ?

    1. I think there is some sort of convoluted metering system for flowing water, but if there’s no water flowing, then none of those sharing rules begin to matter much.

      No rainwater preservation — except for the few Greenies who use it it as a grey water system or for watering their plants.

      Las Vegas is basically draining Lake Mead. Then what?

      Our five-year drought has taken a toll on Lake Mead where the water level has dropped dramatically. If it continues to drop, southern Nevada water customers could face new restrictions on water use by the end of the year. One idea that’s gained some ground because of the drought is draining Lake Powell and letting the water flow into Lake Mead.

      It sounds pretty wild, tear down the Glen Canyon Dam, drain Lake Powell and return all that water to the Colorado River and Lake Mead. The people behind it are more interested in saving the Grand Canyon than they are in helping Lake Mead. Now, the drought has brought new attention to their idea, something the proponents say is going to happen anyway, like it or not.


  3. I visited the Grand Canyon about 15 years ago – I missed outon the helicopter flight to see the Hoover Dam and surrounding areas. It sounds as though there is a real conflict because of the “misunderstandings” about how water supply works and that you have two regulatory bodies based on those misunderstandings.

    I just had a quick look to see what ideas are out there to preserve water – almpst all of them seem to apply to homesteaders reusing water for their plants and using mulch etc. They really need to be aiming water conservation at the citys and at industry.

    1. I agree! We need water conservation right now and not just for a couple of weeks during the summer when there’s no rain. We need deep reserves again.

      Water, we’ll soon learn, is much more valuable than oil. What country will we next invade for their water reserves?

  4. SMILE ……………… The channel tunnel – has road, rail. electricity supply , water and oil from memory and I know when they lay new roads now all the services, ie cable, phone, gas, electric etc are all laid in the same trench.

  5. so have a word in Obamas ear ……………….. if he can bring water in with the oil ………. maybe he will be remembered for domething remarkable …………. all those construction jobs and water too …………….

  6. then water would round out on both business, agriculture and social issues …………………

  7. I hadn’t really heard about this being a problem, I mean no more than usual. I did receive the annual letter from our utility company that we would be fined if our water usage increased over a certain percent. I never worry about going over as we try to be very conscientious of our usage. I have lived in places where there were pretty serious droughts going on so I have just learned to use those conservation ideas all the time. But what a scary post. You are right. I live in the pacific northwest where it seems to rain more than not, and I have a little sliver of a view of Puget sound, so it is hard for me to really think of this as pressing issue. But thanks for binging it to our attention, it is something to be aware of. It always drove me crazy how people would move to the desert and still try to have their plush green gardens… we need to learn to adjust to our surroundings better.

    1. Thanks for sharing your view on this matter from the Puget sound! What a beautiful area.

      I still don’t understand how Las Vegas and Arizona are able to sustain any sort of proper life. They’re both stuck in the desert with no water resources of their own. How can they continue to take without ever really giving much back to replace the water they’re using?

  8. I love your water pipeline idea. Maybe this could be what we need to preserve the coasts from rising tides — take all of the excess water from the coasts and pipe it to the thirsty middle states — they can take out the salt when it gets there, I imagine.

  9. I actually just read about water shortages in other areas the other day, namely Australia, and was feeling sorry for them…I had no idea we had the same problem on such a big scale.

    I especially liked your point about the Dust Bowl. It’s easy to think we learned from it, but in reality we’ve continued to pile way too much of ourselves on to a land that can’t support it. And big cities and agriculture are usually associated with innovation and progress so I wonder if people can ever be convinced to pull back on them.

    1. The Midwest will have to do some deep thinking. In the old pioneer days, there was the motto — “The rain follows the plow” — meaning if you plant something, there will always be enough rain to feed the seeds and grow a crop for harvesting. That really isn’t true anymore — if it ever was. We have large livestock farms that also take a lot of water to operate. There are many challenges ahead!

      1. If only that were true, we could just plant our problems away!

        We have a few major livestock farms here in NJ and they are such huge industries in themselves I don’t know how we would be able to minimize them. I remember a couple of friends growing up who got to tour them and even attend farming classes they held.

        1. Agriculture is definitely big business — but you need a lot of water to run it — I’m not sure how long the status quo can be maintained.

          I did read something that said in 5-10 years, “fake meat” will be so undetectable from the real thing that we won’t have a need any longer to slaughter animals to feed people. All the meat will be grown as plants and then made into a texture with the proper texture and “mouth feel” that satisfies just as much as a live animal — and is better for your body.

Comments are closed.