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Not A Drop To Drink, America’s Water Crisis,
By Ken Midkiff
New World Library
Novato, Calif., 2007, 196 pages ISBN 978-1-930722-68-2
(Reviewed By William J. Angelo)
Picture a mass migration of people, lines of modern Conestoga wagons—SUVs, RVs, crew-cabs and cars—moving from the western U.S. to the East in the coming decades and you may have a disturbing vision of America’s looming water crisis. Residents west of the 100th meridian are living on borrowed time by creating a new Dust Bowl built on federal farm subsidies, cheap water and bad attitude, according to author Ken Midkiff.
Midkiff paints a bleak picture of water abuse that includes irrigating arid areas, building a desert urban sprawl, subsidizing wasteful agribusiness, draining critical aquifers, battling over river water, and the “take it before someone else does” mentality of government and business leaders. It spells disaster for U.S. food production and quality of our life, he says.
According to Midkiff, Americans need to face reality and nowhere is it more critical than in the high plains covering the Ogallala Aquifer, a 174,000-sq-mile storage area. Nearly one-third of the water used in this country for agricultural irrigation comes from the Ogallala and it is depleting fast. So are seventeen other aquifers stretching from Mexico to Alaska.
Water used to flow downhill. Now, it flows towards money: large cities and agribusinesses that gulp water at alarming rates. And their dams, reservoirs, diversions, pipelines, pump stations and canals are insufficient to keep up with growth and development and an unending quest for even more water. But what is left untapped? Should we tow icebergs, build bigger desalination plants, and at what cost? Midkiff asks.
Midkiff suggests that the answer to the western water woes lies in concerned citizens acting at the local level to change attitudes about water for personal use and in supporting sustainable agriculture that is appropriate for their area.