What is in this article?:
- Water woes increase across Southwest.
- Disputes reach the U.S. Supreme Court.
- International water rights also an issue.
We have heard about the importance of water and the growing scarcity of the resource from dozens of sources in recent years. Former United Nations Secretary General Boutros Boutros Ghali is credited with being one of the first to warn of pending global water woes back in 1985 when he said “the next war in the Middle East will be fought over water, not politics,” and again in 2003 when he said “water will [soon] be more important than oil.”
A 2009 United Nations water report warned us that by 2025, 1.8 billion people will be living in countries or regions with absolute water scarcity, and two-thirds of the world population could be under stress conditions. The report elaborated that water withdrawals are predicted to increase by 50 percent by 2025 in developing countries, and 18 percent in developed countries and that water use has been growing at more than twice the rate of population increases over the last century.
In spite of the widespread concerns over water, others argue that too much emphasis is being placed on a potential crisis. They suggest there is considerable concern over water globally, but say we are not necessarily in the immediate danger that some politicians and journalists are suggesting. They claim countries have historically been quick to rattle their sabers over water in the past, but have nevertheless restrained sending soldiers into their neighbor’s backyard to make claim on the life-sustaining resource.
So far, they point out, there have been few, if any, real wars fought over water.
Regardless of your take on the issue of water availability and crisis, and regardless whether you believe in climate change, escalating populations, industrial and commercial abuse such as pollution and waste, or dwindling supplies because of too much demand are the reason or not, growing evidence seems to show that water is indeed a disappearing resource.
The severe drought that has plagued U.S. agriculture over the last couple of years, the growing tensions over water rights between the U.S. and Mexico over water rights in the Rio Grande River, the diminishing reserves of available water in the Colorado River, and the greater demand from large Western cities and industries are just some recent headlines that point to growing concerns that water is indeed a real crisis for all stakeholders who depend on it.