Drought Solutions Overlook Too Many Factors Water Policy Expert Warns Sharon Kleyne
Partial Solutions Could Create New Crises Says Neil Grigg, PhD, on Sharon Kleyne Hour Power of Water Radio Show
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Much of the world, according to Neil Grigg, PhD, is experiencing a major extended drought crisis that in many regions affects economic growth, human health and basic survival. Grigg praises the many individuals who are dedicated to solving the crisis but warns that too many fresh water policy solutions overlook large portion of the problem. Partial solutions, says Grigg, could result in creating new, possibly worse crises.
Grigg explained his, "total water management" concept on the Sharon Kleyne Hour Power of Water radio show of September 15, 2014. The syndicated show may be heard live or by podcast on VoiceAmerica or Apple iTunes.
Neil S. Grigg, PhD, is an international water policy consultant and Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Colorado State University. Grigg is author of, Total Water Management: Leadership Practices for a Sustainable Future (AWWA, 2008).
In addition to hosting the Sharon Kleyne Hour Power of Water, Sharon Kleyne is Founder and Research Director of Bio-Logic Aqua Research, the show's sponsor, which specializes in global research and technology relating to fresh water, the atmosphere and dehydration. Nature's Tears® EyeMist® is the Research Center's signature consumer product for dry eyes.
Much of the interview focused on the California drought and the Colorado River. Grigg noted that much of the arid Southwest depends on the Colorado River, including Las Vegas, California's immensely productive Imperial Valley, and Los Angeles. The good news, according to Kleyne, is that there is potentially enough water, even with the drought, to resolve the water crisis completely, equitably and permanently.
However, Grigg adds, current water policies often overlook factors that could eventually lead to new and unintended crises. For example, Kleyne notes, the long-term effect on soil of exposure to ground water irrigation, reservoir water, natural rainfall and/or drought, has not been adequately studied. Soil, Kleyne explains, is a living species. To grow plants, soil requires live microorganisms and non-living organic content. The organic content enables soil to retain water much longer. It is unknown at what point during a drought, and under what conditions, soil loses its microbial and organic content and becomes dry, lifeless, non-productive sand.
Kleyne is also concerned about the effect of extended drought on atmospheric humidity, which is essential for all terrestrial life. Atmospheric humidity not only keeps us from drying out, it creates the weather systems that return the water to the Earth.
There is a parallel, Kleyne believes, between the recycling of water from the ground to the atmosphere and back, and the recycling of water from our bodies to the atmosphere and back. When the water supply is disrupted in either cycle, the result, according to Kleyne, is dehydration, or water loss, leading to a disruption of natural processes, not all of which can be predicted. .
Another sometimes overlooked subject is upstream - downstream considerations, not just on local farms but over a wide geographic area. Water policy planning in California, for example, must take into account water policy in the State of Colorado, and vice versa. Colorado has also been experiencing severe drought. Colorado is not only the source of the all important Colorado River, it is also the source of the Platte and Arkansas Rivers, upon which much of the Great Plans and lower Mississippi Valley depends for water.
Kleyne and Grigg agreed that despite the severity of the drought, the problem can be solved - in California, in Colorado and even in places such as Kenya and Somalia, where thousand of people die annually due to lack of safe and reliable fresh water. The water is there, says Kleyne, but we need to be innovative, we need to be inclusive (make water available to everyone), we need to work together and we need to look at the whole problem, not just a small slice.