While many legislators and farmers in the United States are concerned with the cost of gasoline, water is quickly emerging as a resource every bit as vital, and as scarce, as oil and fuel. Water shortages have rapidly come into focus this summer, thanks to severe droughts in Florida and Texas. Western states, particularly agricultural states like California, could face massive water shortages in the future which could significantly increase food prices or shut down U.S. production altogether.
Scientists at the University of California’s Center for Hydrologic Monitoring have used satellites to track the depletion of groundwater across the globe, and their findings were particularly disturbing. Across the globe communities are making unsustainable demands on the supply of groundwater. These trends were found in North Africa, northern China, and even in California’s San Joaquin Valley.
Long-term shortages could be disastrous for the U.S., particularly for western communities. Some experts speculate that cities like Phoenix, Arizona and Las Vegas, Nevada, are ecologically unsustainable and could disappear over the next fifty years. In addition, water shortages could lead to high prices and water speculation. Some individuals are already trying to gain control of water resources (T. Boone Pickens in Texas is currently attempting to purchase groundwater rights throughout Texas) and price wars over water could be a common occurrence in the future.
In addition, balancing the needs of the environment with those of farmers has led to water shortages. In California, for example, the state government has diverted water from San Joaquin farmers in order to restore water to rivers and wetlands.
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Written by: Justin Ellison / Farm Plus Staff Writer