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Water - Sept 25

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Ban Near on Diverting Water From Great Lakes

Susan Saulny, New York Times
The House began debate Monday on a sweeping bill that would ban almost any diversion of water from the Great Lakes’ natural basin to places outside the region.

The measure is intended to put to rest longstanding fears that parched states or even foreign countries could do long-term damage to the basin by tapping into its tremendous body of fresh water.

The bill, which would also put in place strict conservation rules for the eight states that border the lakes, is expected to win House approval, perhaps as soon as Tuesday. It has already been passed by the Senate, and the Bush administration has signaled its support.

So House backing for the measure, known as the Great Lakes Compact, is regarded by its many advocates across the Midwest and in New York and Pennsylvania as a long-sought final piece to a complicated puzzle whose solution started taking shape a decade ago in an effort to give the region control over its water. The fear was that without strict, consistent rules on who is entitled to that water, it might start disappearing.

“People realized that Great Lakes water is a finite resource and that death by a thousand straws is a real threat,” said Jordan Lubetkin, a spokesman for the National Wildlife Federation. “There is a perception that because the Great Lakes are so vast, they are immune from harm. That is not the case.”...
(22 September 2008)


Peter Gleick: Deal With the Water Crisis Now

Matthew Power, Wired Magazine
Among the challenges facing the next president, few are more complex—scientifically, politically, and economically—than the unsustainable global demands on fresh water supplies. Sources are drying up in the US and worldwide, raising the specters of hunger, disease, and international conflict. No one has a clearer view of these issues than Peter Gleick, president and cofounder of the Pacific Institute, an Oakland, California-based environmental think tank. So what will the new president need to understand about water? Here are eight slides from Gleick's hypothetical PowerPoint presentation. See original article for slides.
(24 September 2008)




Running dry

The Economist
The world has a water shortage, not a food shortage

MOST people drink about 2 litres of water a day, but consume 3,000 a day if the water that goes into their food is taken into account. Rich countries use more as their consumption of meat, which is far more water-intensive than grain, is higher. Around 1.2 billion people live in places that are short of water, and it is running out in others such as northern China and western America. Meanwhile, the world's population is growing and more water will be needed to feed it. Farming, which accounts for some 70% of human water consumption, offers the best opportunity for thrift. Repairing leaks and better irrigation in poor countries could help reduce wastage by up to 70%, as could switching to less thirsty crops in arid regions.
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