Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Water Problems

It seems that most people still take water for granted - even as some areas are drying up. This is a part of the same problem as the e-coli in spinach (it being irrigated by contaminated sewage instead of clean water). Are people watering their lawns - playing golf on well-watered golf courses - instead of having safe spinach and/or fish to eat? Did anyone tell people that those are the choices that we are making?

A couple of news stories:

State should keep working to protect Apalachicola River

The state of Florida is doing the right thing in filing a federal lawsuit to preserve adequate water flows in the Apalachicola River, which flows to the Gulf Coast about 150 miles east of Pensacola.

It should take this fight as far as necessary.

The Apalachicola still resembles a wild river over much of its course, despite the loss of water in Alabama and Georgia, primarily to provide water to Atlanta.

The river's primary function in Florida is to feed freshwater and nutrients to Apalachicola Bay, one of the richest and most productive estuaries in the United States. It provides about 90 percent of the oysters produced in Florida -- 15 percent of the national harvest -- as well as various species of commercial and game fish.

The fertility of the bay -- and the productivity of its various fisheries -- is dependent on adequate seasonal water flows. High water floods the low-lying wetlands along the river, drawing nutrients and vegetable matter back to the Apalachicola, which carries them down to the bay to feed plants, algae, fish and other marine life.

Florida officials are charging in the lawsuit that so much water is being taken from the river that several endangered species are being killed. Officials say that at times, up to half the river's flow is being taken from the Flint and Chattahoochee rivers, which merge to form the Apalachicola....

Instead of continuing to drain the river excessively to water lawns and golf courses in Georgia, the federal government should require Atlanta to do everything it can to conserve water, including reuse of treated wastewater.


Eco-Paradises in Crossfire of Water Scarcity Fight

Delicate wetlands, coasts and wildlife sanctuaries could be ravaged as part of a struggle to stretch the world's water supplies, with the worst damage foreseen in poor countries.

Achim Steiner, executive director of the U.N. Environment Programme (UNEP), said precious ecosystems like the Okavango Delta in Botswana -- the planet's largest inland delta, which hosts a diversity of fish, game and birds -- may be targeted as a fresh water source if scarcity becomes acute.

"Botswana itself is a water-stressed country. The pressure to extract water that would otherwise maintain that ecological paradise will be immense," he told Reuters in a telephone interview from UNEP's headquarters in Nairobi.

Water basins in Africa's Sahel region, especially Lake Chad, could also be regarded as easy-to-access sources of fresh water if crippling droughts continue to grip countries like Chad, Sudan, Somalia and Ethiopia, Steiner said.

"There will be difficult choices to make," he said.

One billion people, about a sixth of humanity, now lacks access to safe drinking water, and one in three lives in regions plagued by water scarcity, according to U.N. data.

Steiner said human water consumption could jump another 40 percent over the next 20 years as the global population grows and more affluent societies demand more supplies for drinking, bathing, irrigation, energy generation and manufacturing....

"The immediate consequence, if the environment is affected, is that the number of living species will be diminished in wetland, river and lake areas," he added.

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