America's largest water reservoirs are draining toward empty. Hydro power, drinking water and crop irrigation are threatened.
For years, I hated the fact that whenever I tried to get hot water from a faucet, I had to wait seemingly forever for it to arrive—as cold water poured pointlessly into the sink, wasted, in the process.
It was a double-negative whammy: annoying inconvenience as well as waste of a precious natural resource—a resource that this week became even more precious.
With a mind to solving this wasted-water predicament, when my wife and I had a new house built nearly a decade ago I did some research and discovered the existence of a miraculous device known as a hot water recirculating system.
Now, with this system installed, in less than five seconds hot water magically bursts forth from any faucet anywhere in our house, upstairs or down.
Yet, I am still annoyed by the water I waste just doing normal hygiene tasks like washing my hands. In the past few years, I have noticed that lots of stores and restaurants have installed water-saving faucets with sensors that activate only when a hand is present, and they are timed to automatically operate—with the very limited flow—for only a few seconds and then shut off.
But, for me, for now, replacing all our home faucets with water-stingy ones seems a too-expensive solution best left to another day.
However, considering a US Bureau of Reclamation report released today—“U.S. demands more water cuts as Colorado River hits dire lows” (Washington Post)—that day may be sooner than we think. It’s a serious water crisis.
The opening paragraphs in the Post article herald the direness of the straits:
As the historic drought in the U.S. Southwest pushes the nation’s largest reservoirs to record lows, the Biden administration Tuesday announced that water shortages along the Colorado River had passed a threshold for the first time that will require unprecedented cuts for states including Arizona and Nevada.
The Colorado River’s decline has drained three-quarters of the water from the nation’s largest reservoirs, and falling closer than ever to levels where hydroelectric dams can’t generate power and millions of people lose access to drinking water and irrigation supplies across seven states.”
The cause of this “tipping point” crisis? “Climate change has made the West hotter and drier,” says the Bureau.
Read: The water and the flood.
The net result of drought, however, is that Arizona’s water allotment from the Bureau will be cut a robust 21 percent and Nevada’s 8 percent. Even the nation of Mexico’s Colorado River allotment will drop 7 percent.
Regional natural resource officials say the urgent need to significantly cut usage in the West’s water crisis is both “shocking” and “amazing.”
At some point in the very near future, changing our faucets and installing recirculation devices might not be enough. So, immediately might be a good time to seriously entertain those ideas.