Put down your umbrellas and let’s talk about our water shortage. As everybody knows, despite recent downpours California – and the western USA, and large parts of the world, for that matter – has a long term freshwater problem. Too much demand, too little supply, not enough conservation, perverse incentives, aging water infrastructure, and a special interest-captured water politics make the whole water issue a mess. It becomes a glorious mess when you add in water policy’s intersections with just about every other area of public policy, like agriculture policy, urbanization and land use, environment/energy, transportation, etc.
How can Civilized Conversation intelligently discuss such complicated stuff? I think it would be a useful start to identify the biggest moving parts of our policy and political Water World and how they fit together. I’ll try to do that really briefly in my little opening remarks on Monday. Nothing can change the fact that 100 million or so Americans in a dozen states live in a desert. But, the Southwest’s water policies are so screwed up there’s plenty of room for improvement.
Below are some “ABCs of our water problems” links. I also added a few articles on more specific issues, like the relationship between climate change and water, and global issues like water privatization. A lot of links, so maybe focus on my recommended ones.
SUGGESTED BACKGROUND READING –
- The three main causes of California’s long-term water problem. Recommended.
- The CA groundwater problem. Public policy at its worst. Recommended
- The Big Ag problem.
- The U.S. urban water systems are falling apart problem.
- What we know about climate change and drought.
- Conservative idea: Use markets to raise water’s price to reflect its value + stop pampering special interests, esp. environmentalists. Shorter version.
- Rebuttals: Maybe, but it’s not that easy. Recommended. Also, private water trading schemes easily become corrupt.
- Global water problem.
Next Week: Do we need a universal national service program for young Americans?