In Perspective: Water scarcity’s impacts
Another message received this month was in listening to a radio program that introduced Charles Fishman, author of “The Big Thirst: The Secret Life and Turbulent Future of Water.” In the interview, Fishman stressed how access to water will become more of a contentious and political issue in the United States. He pointed to a nearly decade-long drought in Australia that forced it to reinvent the country’s entire water system. After one year of a severe drought, the United States is not quite ready to make the hard choices, he said. But he said not to rule out big changes ahead. He claims the U.S. has already left behind a century-long golden age when water was thoughtlessly abundant, free and safe, and we have entered a new era of high-stakes water. In 2008, Atlanta came within 90 days of running entirely out of clean water, and California is in a desperate battle to hold off a water catastrophe, Fishman says in his book.
As agriculture goes into another crop production year not knowing if the drought from 2012 will continue this year, all eyes remain on the skies. Looking further into the future, however, agriculture may face a tougher political battle over water with urban areas. The industry will need to remain vigilant and use the best technology available to conserve the water to which it has access.