When Fresh Water Becomes the New Oil

I was shocked last week to learn about the Great Lakes Compact legislation that was sent to Congress two weeks ago. Now trust me, I am not the hip news gal that can quote the NY Times or tell you what is what with the NASDAQ so this was huge news to me. Although, since my husband works for Lehman, I could tell you a little bit about the economy right now… I digress! Or do I?

Everyone who is old enough to spend money knows that we are all short if it. We can all relate to paying more for our groceries, tank of gas or airline tickets (if we can afford to go on vacation). Oil is the hot commodity, right? Whoever has it has power, and whoever wants it is desperate.

So back to the Great Lakes Compact legislation and how I am starting to see a parallel. Considering that the Great Lakes make up 20% of the world’s surface fresh water and 95% of the US surface fresh water, it will be extremely important in the future. As I understand the Great Lakes Compact legislation and its intent, the states around the Great Lakes have joined together to manage the lakes sustainably and protect the right to use it exclusively. Hmmmmm.

As we read more about global water shortages, I start to wonder if the country knows about this legislation or understands the impact. Regardless of where we live, I believe we all have a responsibility to conserve water. I would like to think the majority of us turn the faucet off when we brush our teeth, don’t let the kitchen sink water run and run to clean one dish or let our toilets run incessantly. But is it enough for all of us?

Since I live in Chicago and enjoy the many benefits of Lake Michigan daily the legislation would benefit me  immensely, but what about others farther away? If the Great Lakes Compact legislation is passed, our water won’t help any state that doesn’t touch the Great Lakes. What will happen? Will people start moving to where the water is? Can you imagine a huge exodus to the Midwest? Remember the real estate motto- location location location! Will fresh water be the future selling point? Or perhaps water is destined to be a more powerful asset than we imagined creating a nation divided between the haves and the have not’s.

An original 5 Minutes for Going Green post. Read more about Jen and her quest for green at her blog The EcoChic Organizer.

2 Responses to When Fresh Water Becomes the New Oil
  1. Mimi
    September 24, 2008 | 3:40 pm

    We have hardly any freshwater where I live (Virgin Islands) but most of us use cisterns and collect rainwater. This is a (mostly) free source of water that really pays off during hurricane season. We are also home to one of the largest desalinization plants in the western hemisphere (although I have my issues with it) so we have enough water here on our island to take care of us and anyone nearby. It is kind of strange that the few states surrounding are trying to keep all the fresh water for themselves… They should conserve and sustain, but at what price?!?!

  2. GreenMe
    September 24, 2008 | 4:32 pm

    Thanks for bringing up an excellent topic. Water conservation is a huge issue for everyone in the US — even if you live in an area with what appears to be plenty of water.

    I live in Colorado and watch with amazement as huge communities are being built to the east of Denver on land that is classified as a high altitude desert. There are huge homes, lakes, and communities being built “water front” on water pumped out of well fed by the <href=”http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ogallala_Aquifer”Ogallala Aquifer…I hate to see the day the water levels finally drop so low that their wells dry up…then what?

    the Ogallala aquifer is also responsible for irrigation of thousands of acres of agriculture in the US (Nebraska, Colorado, Kanasas, Okalamhoma, etc.). Scary to think about, but just brings home the fact that we need to conserve!