March 2008

Impending water crisis should worry all

By Galen Larson

Water, water all around with not a drop to drink.

Soon enough, this grim prophecy may be coming true or, if uncontrolled growth is allowed to continue in the arid Southwest, we may end up scooping water out of our toilets, stock ponds and swimming pools to quench our thirst.

In case it hasn't sunk in yet, a simple statement says it all: Without water there is no life. (Check out Mars.)

Why is our water supply becoming a problem?

Because water providers don't actually provide water — that's Mother Nature's job — they simply regulate it.

We laugh at Native Americans when they perform a dance to ask the Great Spirit for water, even though it sometimes seems to work, although many times not. But we don't even blink when control of our water supply is given over to a few who then dictate the amounts of the precious fluid that are distributed to the masses — not on the equation of who needs it, but who provides the most cash flow or profit.

So we get regulated by a new golden rule: He who has the most gold gets to rule.

Experiencing rampant residential and commercial development, Colorado's Front Range is coming after Western Slope water with a vengeance. No matter how many pacts are written by clever lawyers, other even-more-clever lawyers will rend them assunder.

A short scenario: 20 million Front Range residents vote for more of our water against 2 million voters on the Western Slope who want to keep it here. It doesn't take a rocket scientist (or even a water manager) to know who the politicians will side with. I keep going back to the passages in the Good Book that identify us as sheep. That insight erases the last vestiges of doubt.

Experts say we can take agricultural water, but won't that affect our food supply? Or are we going to clone this basic necessity? (Don't tell the sheep, though — it might stir their commonsense gene.)

Agriculture takes good soil, clean water — and I emphasize clean — but so-called experts say that in this instance agricultural uses are a waste of good water that could be better used to enhance growth in the metropolitan areas and their outlying bedroom communities.

This thinking has already led to e. coli outbreaks stemming from sewage water bring used — maybe inadvertently, maybe not — for crop irrigation in California. (Talk about organic!)

But then the question of where these new residents do get their food arises -- water, no food

You'll notice most of the “experts” have full bellies, a narrow focus and the ability to get the answers they seek by bending statistics. (As Mark Twain observed, there are “lies, damned lies and statistics,” assigning number- crunching top billing in distorting the truth.)

Still, no matter how conservative we become with our water and other natural resources, nothing will be finally solved until we address the earth's most threatening issue: overpopulation. Human numbers have already topped 6 billion and continue to grow with geometric expansion.

There is only so much livable room on this small planet once you subtract the the areas covered by water, the uninhabitable desert, mountain and polar regions, and the forests and jungles needed to produce the oxygen we breathe.

Not much is left for us naked apes to divvy up and produce the necessities of life, but we continue to multiply like a virulent virus that will soon kill its host — all for the burgeoning profits of the few.

And when the capitalistic system gets as involved in making such life-anddeath decisions as who gets drinking water, it sends a shudder down my back. Such control is the basis for the largest pyramid scheme ever devised, since it’s based on the need for increased consumer demand and a dwindling supply of the resources and energy to meet them.

The corporate message is plain: We'll gladly pay $6 for a gallon of filtered potable water while complaining about the price of fuel for our gas-guzzling vehicles. Again, common sense should tell us that fuel prices are based on supply and demand, and just who controls the supply?

Apply the same economics to the impending water crisis and all but the most brain-dead should start to worry, because fuel is, in the end, a luxury, while water is a much more immediate necessity.

In the meantime, about a third of our population believes in global warming, another third is not sure what's happening and others sit around debating whether the world is flat and waiting for the Rapture to put an end to such worldly concerns as their basic needs. (They better be careful — it may be a hell of a lot drier where they end up!)

At the same time, corporations continue to buy up water rights all over the world. One water broker in Albuquerque, N.M., is seeking the rights to the melting polar glaciers.

T. Boone Pickens, who made several fortunes in the oil business, is also greedily snapping up water rights. These guys are not stupid — they know where the future power lies, and more and more it rests with the gold-plated hand that controls our water taps.

And I, for one, don't want to drink water that was recently seen swirling away as it left my toilet.

Galen Larson lives in rural Montezuma County, Colo.