Mark Twain said it best; “Whisky is for Drinkin, Water is for Fightin!” And the upcoming battles for control over our water here and for others worldwide are fighting issues all of us have a very real stake in. The oil crisis’s we face pale by comparison because ultimately we can reduce our need for oil if we have to, but we cannot live without clean water.
Thus what has happened in Mecosta County Michigan is important to us all. The fight there pitted the locals against a multinational corporation that wanted to build a water bottling plant. The owners made it clear in no uncertain terms they came to this specific area for clean, pure, water. Water that had for centuries ended up in local streams and tributaries and Lake Michigan. The water control battle culminated with the plant being built and it now continuously pumps 400 gallons a minute out of the ground to be sold under their, Ice Mountain Brand Name, of bottle water. And what does Nestle Waters North America, pay the locals for that water? Other than leasing the property, the company pays nothing.
So by now you might be asking yourself, “Who owns the water?” Good question, but not one that has a very easy answer. Ninety Five percent of our fresh water supply here in the USA, comes from underground. So by rights, we all own the water. And since Corporations are people in the eyes of the law, they have as much right to it as you do. It should also come as no surprise that in most water skirmishes he who has the most money to make or loose on the issue will win in our newly redeveloped judicial system.
The fight for water basically comes down to between three major players seeking it; agriculture, industry and you and I. And none of the three seem to be too concerned at this point about availability. It is estimated that 60% of the water used for food production as in irrigation and development is wasted. Industrial demands in most cases leave the water used unfit for drinking or being used by humans safely. As for our part in this equation; in 1950, there were fewer than 100 cities that had populations over 1 million. That number will be over 650 by the time we get to the year 2025, and that many people are going to require a lot of water.
The Ogallala Aquifer that runs from Texas to South Dakota is being pumped at a rate 14 times greater than groundwater and runoff can refill it! Droughts and news of shortages abound. The Yellow River runs dry in its southern sections over 200 days per year. Water is an issue we can no longer afford to ignore. It is our future.