AC Alert for January 7, 2013 "Sandy" Overshadows Growing Concern on US Drought AC Alert for January 7, 2013 "Sandy" Overshadows Growing Concern on US Drought

Monday, January 7, 2013 - 1:30pm

CONTENT: Newsletter

The people living in the Sandy-ravaged Northeastern US states won't believe it for one second, but almost two-thirds of the continental USA is suffering from drought or near drought conditions. A lack of rainfall over the past year has left lakes and rivers dry, and government officials and farmers perplexed as to what comes next. The drought conditions haven't grabbed the headlines -- understandably so in light of Sandy's severity and the proximity of major media to the storm --but neither can they be ignored.

Here's a sample of what's happening in the heart of our nation: "Drought continued to expand through many key farming states within the central United States in the past week, as scattered rainfall failed to replenish parched soils. Drought conditions were most pervasive in the Plains states...

  • 100% of Kansas was in at least "severe" drought as of Tuesday, up from 99.34 percent a week earlier, according to the Drought Monitor; almost 78% remained in at least "extreme drought," the second-worst level of drought.
  • Conditions in Nebraska were unchanged;
  • Texas drought conditions also worsened over the last week, with more than 32% of the state in at least extreme drought.

Recognizing the emergence of a crisis on water as a major issue, AC editors established a special Hot Topic content section -- "Water Quality and Quantity" -- 5 years ago. The stakes are enormous: Demand for water is projected to outstrip supply by a staggering 40% by 2030, and an estimated half the world's population are likely to live in areas of high water stress by the same year, according to Paul Dickinson, Executive Chairman of the Carbon Disclosure Project in the CDP Water Disclosure 2010  Global Report.  

The situation is getting worse rather than getting better. The pressures of over-population, climate change and increased use per capita are all causing water stresses, although unevenly, throughout the globe. 

Current impacted areas in the US include the Midwest and Southeastern regions. Perhaps because we are entering winter, and in the aftermath of Sandy, the attention of the mainstream media has been focused elsewhere. However this crisis cannot be ignored.

Since this section was first created in 1998, the editors have screened tens of thousands of articles and brought you almost 1,000 stories, commentaries and reports. Water quality and quantity continues to be a Hot Topic for AC readers.  As many pundits are saying: water is becoming the new carbon. Check out these recent articles:

Colorado River water supply to fall short of demand, study says
(Source: Los Angeles Times) Water demand in the Colorado River Basin will greatly outstrip supply in coming decades as a result of drought, climate change and population growth, according to a broad-ranging report.

Global Water Shortage Will Create Massive Growth
(Source: Seeking Alpha) The world's population is growing exponentially, and overpopulation is already becoming a problem. According to the United Nations, the global population will surpass 10 billion by the end of this century. A rise in population of that scale will create problems for the world, but lucrative opportunities for smart investors.

New Report: Growing Water Scarcity Presents Major Challenges
(Source: CSR Wire/Ceres) Citing shrinking federal funds, uncertain water demand and declining revenues to pay for the projects, the report recommends that utilities move carefully before embarking on major pipelines, reservoirs and other new infrastructure that will create financial risks for investors and utility customers alike.

Water levels on Missouri River falling to almost a trickle
(Source: Nebraska Radio Network) Several governors, businesses and farm groups are asking Congress and the [US Army] Corps of Engineers to boost water levels on the Missouri to help keep barges moving on the Mississippi.

Global water crisis: too little, too much, or lack of a plan?
(Source: Christian Science Monitor) While the balance between water supplies and the demands of a burgeoning population are further complicated by the effect of climate change on delicate hydrological margins, there are those who say there is enough water, if nations learn to plan for a different future; one in which past abundance is no guide.

Efforts Ongoing to Address Looming Water Level Crisis on Mississippi River
(Source: Hoosier Ag Today) Senate and House members have sent letters to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers raising concerns with the impending impact that low water levels will have on barge traffic on a portion of the Mississippi River.

In addition to the conditions currently being experienced in the Midwest, droughts in the U.S. Southeast and quantity issues in the Southwest and in California have brought conservation, control and distribution issues to the public's attention in the past few years.  Water in the United States is a key factor to residential and commercial development, economic stability and job growth, all issues which effect local and regional communities' economic well-being.

Farming / Growing Concerns:  Water in the USA is critical to the health of agriculture and related industries. Millions of US families and thousands of US businesses depend on the ag sector.  Agriculture and related industries (such as food manufacture, marketing and food services) are an important sector of the US economy and a major export factor.  And water is one of the prime inputs to farming.

Corporations are in the spotlight for their use of water. Advocates and third party researchers are developing "water footprints" for leading companies, such as The Coca Cola Company, Nestle and other water-intensive industries and sectors. 

Through our Hot Topic Section on Water Quality and Quantity, AC will continue to bring the many facets of water issues into focus with news, commentary and research.  We believe that education on the issues, public discussion and expressions of rising concern can help to bring about real and positive changes and sensible and fair solutions to the problems at hand

This is just a sampling of the information in our Alert. Go here for the full text of this alert, and more information on Sustainability, and other Accountability related topics.