America has enough water to satisfy the nation’s demand, but newly released data from the World Resources Institute shows some areas are out of balance.
Although we usually take the following information for granted, humans need adequate supplies of water and oxygen and hundreds of other items to continue living into higher age levels. The same is true for our pets, all animals and plants in the gigantic bowl of life’s necessities.
The WRI’s Aqueduct Water Risk Atlas researchers used hydrological models and more than 50 years of data to estimate the typical water supply of 189 countries compared to their demand. The result was a scale of “water stress” — how close a country comes to draining its annual water stores in a typical year.
Betsy Otto, director of the WRI’s Global Water Program, pointed out that many years are not typical and unpredictable weather patterns of a changing climate can have drastic consequences.
In areas of high or extremely high water stress, she said, “if you then hit a drought … you’re really in trouble, because you’re already using most of what you have.”
The United States ranked 71st of 189 countries, and the low-medium on the stress scale, meaning we are pulling out just under 20% of our available water.
California uses more water than any state.
States with higher water use per day included:
High: CA, AZ, CO, NE.
Medium to high: NJ, WY, TX, FL, NC, DE, RI, KS, AR, MA, NV, VA.
Low to medium:
GA, ID, MT, ND, SC, MN, NH, OR, WI, CT, SD, IN, PA, AK, MO, OK, OH, LA, VT, KY,
NY, WA, WV, MS, MD, IA, IL, TN, AL, MI, ME, DC.
Television news shows have been showing videos on bottled water being delivered to Puerto Rico, the Bahamas and other regions hit by forest fires and hurricanes.
In Puerto Rico, trucks would provide water in central areas but the residents would have to carry the heavy crates home and then conserve the H2O by sipping their supply until the next caravan of relief trucks arrive.
Drinking always has a higher priority than showering.
The Southwest is most stressed. Paul Reig, an environmental scientist who leads Aqeduct, helped explain why.
Much of the territory is naturally arid, Southwestern states are in the most precarious positions when it comes to water, he said.
New Mexico, for instance, was the only state in the “extremely high” category, earning the same alarming score (4.26 on a five-point scale) as the United Arab Emirates, which was the 10th most stressed in the world.
This editorial is not being written to give you something to keep you awake, worrying at night.
The point is that states that may have serious lack of water problems should recognize the threat and begin providing more supply and developing more reservoirs to meet any future demand.