A great deal of blood and sacrifice has been expended to protect America freedoms and the America way of life, both of which are now threatened by the most mundane sources imaginable: fresh water.
Water resource scarcity is a severe challenge and one that grows worse by the day. When most people think about this issue their minds tend to race to the desert Southwest, where places like Phoenix and Las Vegas draw water from distant reservoirs and the complex latticework of pipelines and canals that connect these man-made bodies of water to the cities they sustain.
While these desert cities certainly struggle with water resource management problems, many other locations - some of which are in the seemingly water rich Midwest - also face severe water resource challenges. In some instances these surprisingly water poor places were made so as a result of contamination. This was certainly the case in Flint, Michigan and Corpus Cristi, Texas. In both cases, industrial waste seeped into the municipal freshwater supply, contaminating the local tap water. In other instances, water managers attempted to overcome surface water shortages by drawing ever increasing volumes of water from underground sources. As the amount withdrawn exceeded the rate of recharge, water resource scarcity ensued. Changes in precipitation rates over time have exacerbated these trends, triggering prolonged droughts in some areas and more frequent and intense flooding in others. Indeed, the problem of water resource scarcity is now so widespread that few places in the US are immune to intensifying water resource management challenges.
On a conceptual level, the issue of resource scarcity is nothing new; however, water scarcity is in a category of its own. Although we might imagine some alternative to oil or copper, there simply is no alternative to fresh water. If you run out of fresh water you die, it’s as simple as that. Every living organism needs fresh water to survive. And while technological approaches like desalination might seem like an obvious answer to our water resource challenges, at this point in time these approaches are all energy intensive and we all know that energy is another resource in short supply.
When we view water in this context, it is not a partisan issue. It is not a topic that is or should be the subject of debate between democrats and republicans, liberals and conservatives. Rather, the issue of sustainable water resource management is or should be of concern to all Americans. It is the foundation of the America dream and the American way of life. It is therefore the principle for which scores of Americans across all generations fought and died to defend. There is nothing more patriotic than that! And yet, it is a principle that’s under threat.
If you want to be a patriot, if you want to uphold the principles and values of American democracy, consider taking the time to learn about the water management challenges and strategies in your local community. If you see the opportunity to help, put your shoulder to the wheel of water resource policy by making your voice heard. Remember, citizenship is not merely a set of rights and privileges. Citizens also bear the responsibility to act to defend our way of life against threats foreign and domestic. There are few threats more pernicious, more corrosive to our way of life than water resource scarcity.