Most people who live in the Southeastern, United Stated have heard about the drought having experienced the total ban on outdoor watering. Some folks who travel through the Southeastern region may have heard of the drought on the news and other people may have only heard of the drought in passing on national news.
We recently traveled up to Charlotte, NC for a business trip. I was unaware the drought was “that” pervasive in the southeast. However, the Charlotte area (last I heard) was still in a level 2 drought status. I have heard reports of some 37 year old wells in TN drying out. It seems the largest concerns are the water supplies over the coming months, whereas the northern GA region has been placed under Level 4 drought conditions, which is essentially a total outdoor watering ban.
Having been under this for a number of weeks and seen the influx changes coming into our daily practices (some probably well deserved), I still have a number of questions or concerns regarding our societies reaction to drought.
People Are The Only Concern
While it is understandable that people value “their” own life(style) over all others, we as a human race and as stewards of this planet, need to adjust our perspective in terms of resource management. We must be able to supply, maintain, and react to changes in conditions and work to reestablish the foundations of whatever needs to be changed at the 'entire' ecological level, rather than just what is necessary to spartanly maintain human life.
What I mean, is we must begin to adjust our engineering thoughts to include watering of plant life in droughts. We must begin to design ways to keep water flowing at “green” levels even when it is arid and dry. This IS possible with our technology today, it just is not done because too many people focus on the cost equation. Our society is too cheap, we need to work on grand engineering projects that benefit all life, not just slightly improve the human experience when it is cost effective or a dire emergency.
Outdoor Watering Bans
Outdoor watering bans are the low hanging fruit, they quickly and easily provide savings but they only mask the 'true' problem. The true problem is our societies are overcrowded and under served. We have no infrastructure to support the numbers of people who exist in many regions. If you take a geographical region and dramatically shift its water tables (Too much or too little; New Orleans or what is feared for Atlanta in 2008 and beyond with no rain) people adapt, but the ecological environment does not. It dies. Crops die, trees die, shrubs die, grass dies, yet people are able to last longer... at a reduced quality of life. That is not acceptable.
Infrastructure Enhancements and Postponements
If the drought is as severe as people say, believe, and fear. Then now is the time for action.
- Why have the level 4 communities not placed a moratorium on new homes, apartments, and business constructions? Each new building constructed will increase water consumption.
- Why have they not introduced impact fees for the constructions? (directed to new water and road engineering efforts)
- Where are the grants for engineering and technology schools to begin projects on improvements to eliminate these issues in the near-future.
- Where are the new wells and reservoirs being built?
A Grand Solution
One such larger initiative would be a large scale oceanic water desalination and pipeline process. We already pipe oil all around the world, why not water? The technology exists, is proven, and is still being improved upon. Unlike oil, there is a far greater supply of water that exists, that can be moved around to solve problems. All the communities in North America rely on local water pools, which are subject to regional weather patterns. Period of drought, flooding, and otherwise. At least on the side of droughts, we could provide enough clean water to stabilize the entire ecosystem, not just minimalistically maintain our existence, while we watch the crops, trees, shrubs, and grasses die off, which also begins to affect the local wild life and onward with additional ripple effects.
While there are more skilled people already thinking about these issues and working on them, I fear none of them have the scope of vision necessary or the skill sets to teach those who have the resources and influence to move forward with such endeavors. I hope that I am wrong, but the from my vantage point the solution is simple and deliverable within a very short span of time... if we just focus on expanding our vision and stewardship of this planet.
If you have not already take some time to dive deeper into the information that is being made available regarding the drought and the efforts in place. If you see problems with them, take the time to contact your local officials and make suggestions and ask questions. We all do not need to become process experts on on water delivery and conservation... we have those already. Just need to be aware enough to help guide the processes in place to where they should be, or (if needed) encourage those who are doing the work to think in a larger scope.
Some Resources on the Drought
Georgia Drought – Quick Facts
- Statewide Outdoor Water Use Schedule
- For Immediate Release from the Department of Natural Resources
- Map of Drought Response Level 4 and Level 2