This is a new page of links on the topic of the Water Crisis emerging in the 21st Century. This crisis has a number of parts: pollution of existing surface fresh water supplies, over use of sub-surface aquifers, pollution of the world's oceans and the impact of GLOBAL WARMING and other environmental hazards such as AIR pollution, MINING, FARM activities, NUCLEAR, and HYDRAULIC FRACKING, interacting. This page will attempt to deal with water by itself, as much as possible.
I will start with a brief explanation of the hydrologic cycle:
Essentially, as long as enough rain and snow falls in the hills or mountains (on the left of the illustration), surface runoff will keep the lake filled to cover losses due to evaporation (direct transfer of moisture to the atmosphere from a liquid body of water caused by heat transfer, usually solar energy), and drainage to the river. This same precipitation feeds ground water through percolation from the high country into underground aquifers (occasionally breaking out from sides of hills as springs).
Movement of water from the ground to the atmosphere though living things is called "transpiration." Most of the water transferred to the atmosphere this way passes through plants. Animals also lose moisture this way because our exhaled breath is moister, usually, than the air we inhale. Animals that cool the body by evaporation are also performing a transpiration function, but it is usually referred to by another term that is species specific.
Obviously, the sun causes moisture to evaporate from all bodies of water. As that moisture rises, the temperature of the air drops, when the temperature drops, the moisture condenses, the moisture condenses into drops of rain and falls back to earth and the cycle begins again.
Water in the Western United States
The California Water Story - a short film from the California Department of Water Resources that provides a 16 minute overview of how people in California started to use water and where they are now. This is a good basic overview for anyone seeking to understand water sources and uses in general (not just in the West). 2011
Cadillac Desert: The American West and Its Disappearing Water - a book by Marc Reisner (revised edition published 1993 and still in print in paperback) - was made into a PBS mini-series called Water and the Transformation of Nature in 1997. The videos listed below are from that series. It is worth your while to seek out both the book and the DVDs at your local library, especially when you see the pictures of the "bathtub ring" around Lake Mead" (above) showing how low the lake level is as of 2014! These videos break the original programs into less than ten minute segments for easy viewing.
- Mulholland's Dream - Part 1
- Mulholland's Dream - Part 2
- Mulholland's Dream - Part 3
- Mulholland's Dream - Part 4
- Mulholland's Dream - Part 5
- Mulholland's Dream - Part 6
- Mulholland's Dream - Part 7
- Mulholland's Dream - Part 8
- Mulholland's Dream - Part 9
- An American Nile - Part 1
- An American Nile - Part 2
- An American Nile - Part 3
- An American Nile - Part 4
- An American Nile - Part 5
- An American Nile - Part 6
- The Mercy of Nature - Part 1
- The Mercy of Nature - Part 2
- The Mercy of Nature - Part 3
- The Mercy of Nature - Part 4
- The Mercy of Nature - Part 5
- The Mercy of Nature - Part 6
- The Last Oasis - Part 1
- The Last Oasis - Part 2
- The Last Oasis - Part 3
- The Last Oasis - Part 4
- The Last Oasis - Part 5
- The Last Oasis - Part 6
- California's Water Crisis - 2010 - Part 1
- California's Water Crisis - 2010 - Part 2
- California's Water Crisis - 2010 - Part 3
California Drought - California Department of Water Resources
State of Thirst - California's water Future KQED QUEST
Water in the Great Lakes Area
The Great Lakes are the largest group of fresh water lakes on Earth, and containing over 20% of the world's surface fresh water and over HALF world's liquid fresh water by volume. This vital resource provides drinking water for over 26 million people in the United States and Canada.
This Nature Conservancy Fact Sheet provides a quick overview of challenges facing the Great Lakes water supply. Primary threats come from attempts by MINING (with acid mine drainage and mercury from mines surrounding pimarily Lakes Superior and Huron), invasive species brought in by shipping (via the St. Lawrence Seaway) or via the Mississippi River system through the Chicagi River connecting canal, PIPELINES (passing under the Strait of Mackinac and under the St. Clair River, north of Detroit) and agricultural runoff from FARMs in the lands in both the U.S. and Canada surrounding the Lakes. Despite the existence of the Great Lakes Compact, which is a multi-state and bi-national pact to contol the water resources of the Great Lakes Basin, there have been and will continue to be attempts by communities outside the Basin, to claim its waters for dtinking purposes.
THE OHIO RIVER SYSTEM
The Ohio River stretches almost a thousand miles, from Pittsburgh PA, at the conjunction of the Allegheny and the Monongahela Rivers, to its confluence with the Mississippi at Cairo IL. It is the source of drinking water for over three million people and is a major avenue of commerce.
Primary stressors on the Ohio River system are commerce (the risk of spills of toxic chemicals in the waste from HYDRAULIC FRACTURING), FARM runoff.