"Thousands have lived without love, not one without water." -- W.H. Auden

While no one is predicting the price of water will one day compete with the price of oil, the truth is, water is a more vital resource, and as demand rises worldwide, those without water could well initiate the new version of the shot heard around the world.

It is nothing new, this concern for water. In truth many civilizations have risen because they built their homes by rivers, lakes and seashores, and many have fallen to ruins because the sources of water ran dry. To put it simply, as Ben Franklin is credited with saying, "When the well runs dry, we learn the wealth of water."

That lesson is certainly raining truth across the world, including large areas of the American West and Southwest. The pains of widespread water shortages are growing. Lakes and rivers have run dry in parts of California, Arizona, Nevada, Utah, Colorado, New Mexico, Texas and Oklahoma, and drought conditions have plagued many other states in recent times.

Weather outlook is not optimistic.

In truth, deny it or not, our climate is changing, and while the debate over the reasons for the change have been a hotly contested issue for many years running, few are denying the hard, cold facts. As rains become less frequent, demand for water is exceeding supply, and regardless whether we find ourselves in a historical drought because of naturally occurring changes in the weather or because green house gases are contributing to the problem doesn't really matter. When all the wells run dry, life as we know it will drastically change.

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Lyndon B. Johnson put it this way: "A nation that fails to plan intelligently for the development and protection of its precious waters will be condemned to wither because of its shortsightedness. The hard lessons of history are clear, written on the deserted sands and ruins of once proud civilizations."

Perhaps nothing could be more true.