Zippidy Doo Da

I'm not stupid, I'm from Texas!

Thursday, September 08, 2011

The Ripple Effect



I’ve been reading Alex Prudhomme’s book “The Ripple Effect.” This book is all about water; drought, flooding, groundwater, surface water, drinking water, wastewater, water treatment, management and mismanagement.

A friend saw this and called it a ‘gloom and doom’ book. I suppose so, but it’s a fascinating read on a vital subject. Water is an “axis resource,” meaning it is essential to the production of other necessities, such as food and energy. With Texas experiencing the worst drought in fifty years, we’re starting to see how essential it really is. Lack of rainfall has clobbered agriculture and drawn reserves down to sixty percent of normal levels, prompting water restrictions across the state. If the drought holds through next year the situation will be desperate. With smoke from wildfires darkening the Houston sky, this is a good time to consider how we think about this precious resource.

I don’t have a three-page screed ready today but in a nutshell I’d say that water is another thing that we use in an unsustainable manner. Hydrologists use the term “water mining” to describe the practice of drawing water from the aquifers faster than it can be replenished. Prudhomme speculates on which will be the first “ghost city” to empty out as its water supply becomes untenable. He gives examples of tax averse citizens voting down needed water projects and lays out the pros and cons of possible solutions. There are no easy answers, and costs will go nowhere but up.

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