Saturday, February 6, 2016

Water, The Dire Situation We Aren't Thinking About

I used to in one of my classes have the students imagine how a civil war might start in the United States.    Most would think along the lines of race, sometimes language and occasionally even a disappearing middle class.  No one ever thought about clean water and the access to it.

In this part of the country, water is taken for granted since there is either a river, lake or creek not far from any given person in Ohio.  Even when water isn't close by, there is usually no problem in drilling a well.  Despite being infamous for a city that once had a river so polluted is actually caught fire (sorry Cleveland), Ohioans take access to clean water pretty much for granted.

The "burning river" was one of the reasons the Federal Water Pollution Control Act of 1948 was heavily reorganized and changed into what is now known as the Clean Water Act (CWA) of 1972.

"Under the CWA, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has implemented pollution control programs such as setting wastewater standards for industry. The EPA also set water quality standards for all contaminants in surface waters. The CWA made it unlawful to discharge any pollutant from a point source into navigable waters, unless a permit was obtained."

As we have now learned, the water in Flint, MI is highly polluted and has been for some time.  Somehow or other, local and state officials in Michigan missed out on CWA and the fact that tap water isn't supposed to look like 40-weight motor oil.  The situation in Flint is something that might have happened 40 or 50 years ago but isn't supposed to happen in the 21st Century.

The finger-pointing, denials and counter-accusations are just beginning so it will take years before we get the real story as to how this situation was able to develop and subsequently be ignored by officials for over a year.  But we don't need to what for the post-game analysis, we can make the conclusion that if a modern US city of around 100,000 people can have highly-polluted, filthy drinking water for over a year and it can happen anywhere.

This brings me to another point, we here about the fighting in Syria and the skirmishes with Turkey but often no one mentions why this is happening.  Certainly part of it is the ISIL/Daesh/al-Nusra troublemakers but only recently have arrived on the scene.  Matters that are really afoot date much further back than the global war on terror.

The Southeastern Anatolia Project is an idea first developed by modern Turkey's founder Attaturk.  He realized the region would need electricity and believed power generated from hydro-electric power plants could be developed using the Tigris and Euphrates rivers.  It is supposed to be a sustainable project for the 9 million Turks living in the region raising their standard of living through irrigation, agriculture and the construction of 22 dams 19 power plants.  All sounds so far except take a like at this map;

The source of the Tigris and Euphrates is the Taurus mountains in eastern Turkey.  The Tigris and Euphrates flow SOUTH, meaning they flow into Syria, Iraq and Kuwait.  The Anatolia Project allows Turkey to potentially control the water of their southern neighbors.  Might be a little bit of a problem if Turkey were to say get a little attitude towards Syria now wouldn't it?

Even Saddam Hussein was eager to see what would happen so after the first Gulf War, he and Turkey had already become fast friends even as the US continued to enforce no-fly zones.  By taking Turkey's side against the Kurds, Saddam assured himself and Iraq that the Tigris and Euphrates would not be shut-off further north.

Remember all of that nonsense about an "Arab Spring"?  No one really has stopped to ask what was going on and why Hillary was so hot to have Qaddafi taken out.  Yea sure there were a bunch of despotic bastards running some of those countries, but what else is new?  Most had been in power for years including Qaddafi.  Qaddafi really hadn't done anything since Reagan unleashed a fleet of FB-111s on his ass in 1986 and any thoughts of resorting to his Pan Am Flight 103 days was beaten-out of him for good by Desert Storm.  So why did ol Hillary want Qaddafi taken out?

The Nubian Sandstone Aquifer System is the world's largest fossil water aquifer and spans all of North Africa (coincidently, the same ones that went through the Arab Spring).  It contains an estimated 150,000 km cubed of water!  Now resting on top of the world's largest aquifer may be one thing but getting access to all of that water is another.  Enter our friends, the Libyans.  See Libya prior to Qaddafi exiting the scene was producing 2 percent of the world's ENTIRE oil production.  Guess what else the Libyans found while drilling for all of the oil?  Why water of course and if you know how to run pipe for oil production, it's a snap to do the same for water.  Thus was born the Great Man-Made River.  It is the largest underground network of pipes (2,820 kilometres (1,750 mi)  and aqueducts in the world. It consists of more than 1,300 wells, most more than 500 meters deep, and supplies 6,500,000 m3 of fresh water per day to the cities of Tripoli, Benghazi, Sirte and elsewhere.

It is very likely that our friend Hillary and her then-boss Mr. Obama are secretly worried that we may be running out of clean water.  Both the Washington Post and BBC have run pieces in the last year on how the world is running out of water.

Remember my students?  When I would point out that water could be the start of a war, they just couldn't understand.  I would then use California as an example.  All of those health-loving, beautiful people out on the West Coast use a lot of water.  Of course their water consumption is nothing compared to the amount required to grow all that produce that California is known for.  It is no great secret that California, especially southern California, has been getting their water from Colorado.  The Colorado River provides water to 40 million people in the states of Arizona, Wyoming, New Mexico, Utah, Nevada, California and Colorado.  Most of the areas have been hit with droughts for years.  As anyone in Phoenix can tell you, the aquifer that supplied water for all of that growth is drying up.

What if the United States water supply is more dire than we suspect?  Flint has demonstrated the ability for officials to turn a blind eye to filthy water being pumped through municipal water systems.  More water systems may be vulnerable as our population continues to grow and the demand for agriculture continues to grow to meet those demands.  It may not be too far off in the future before the US has to start IMPORTING water they way we import oil now.  If that happens, water rationing could be a thing and a huge subsequent black-market for water could be created.

So the next time you read a headline about the situation in Syria, stop and think.  Is it really about radical Islam or something else much scarier going on?

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