Will Water Become as Valuable as Oil?

America’s Groundwater
“Bank Account” Is WAY Overdrawn.

Dried Lake Suffice it to say decades of Uncle Sam’s regulatory overreach has inhibited infrastructure upgrades necessary to plentiful water supplies and mandated massive wasteful farming practices, all of which is coming to an ugly head for consumers.

America’s enviable history of cheap, plentiful water is coming to an end, which is why you are hearing so much about global warming from Washington lately. They know that when the public catches on that something is very wrong with food prices, they will need a scapegoat!

U.S. aquifers are almost as bankrupt as our government. We are “spending” our water at a much greater rate than it’s being “deposited.” Take the example of one Kansas farm family. Lack of water hasn’t killed them, but it’s all but killed their livelihood. In 1964, this family drilled a well that gushed 1,600 gallons of water per minute – more water than they could possibly use. So they invested in a large irrigation system, which allowed them to purchase and farm more land. But over the years the volume of water dropped from 1,600 gallons a minute in ’64… to 1,200 in 1975… then to 750 in 1976, and only 300 in 2010. The well now produces only 150 gallons a minute – not enough water to support their farm and their livelihood.

Massive Midwestern Aquifer
is Drying Up!

This family has drilled four other wells on their property hoping to get more water. They discovered that the bulk of the water is gone.

Midwest farmers get most of their water from the High Plains aquifer. An aquifer is an underground lake or river. This one extends from Wyoming to New Mexico and from Colorado to Oklahoma. It provides about 30 percent of the groundwater used for irrigation in the United States.

Water is deposited into the High Plains aquifer from rain and snow pack. However, since the mid-1980’s withdrawals of water have been substantially more than the deposits. The amount of water is less everywhere; from a decline of 2 percent in the Dakotas to over 39 percent in Texas, and the average groundwater depth has dropped by about 240 feet.

What the End of Cheap,
Plentiful Water Means for You

The forced squandering of water on ethanol and other aspects of government mandated waste in farming has led to reckless use of water supplies that we as a national have always taken for granted. The ominous signs for farmers and others include:

  1. Lower water tables. The deeper to the water, the more costly the well. Pumping costs are higher, too.
  2. Higher costs for water. As demand continues to outstrip supply, the cost for water increases; it’s Economics 101. Trouble is, there is no limit to how high the price can go. Water is the only commodity for which there is no alternative, and there never will be.
  3. Deterioration of water quality. Not all groundwater is fresh water – much of the very deep groundwater is salty.
  4. Less water in lakes and streams. Excessive pumping of groundwater alters how water moves between an underground aquifer and aboveground streams and lakes. Corn ethanol production alone uses the equivalent of the content of Lake Erie every decade. Think we’re exaggerating? Look up the Aral Sea in an old encyclopedia; it was once the fourth largest lake in the world. Soviet irrigation programs reduced the Aral “Sea” to the Aral Puddle – now less than ten percent of its original size in just 20 years.
  5. Huge sinkholes (sometimes called land subsidence). When water is withdrawn out of the ground in massive amounts, it often causes the soil to collapse and compact. This can reduce the storage capacity of the aquifer. This happened in California’s San Joaquin Valley. A Florida man died recently when his home literally collapsed into a sinkhole. Florida faces perhaps the worst long-term water crisis of any state in the union.

What You Can Do

As always, we’ve got some solutions that will help you be prepared when water prices skyrocket:

  1. Grow a garden. Everyone – even those living in apartments – can grow some fresh food. Not only is this food healthier and tastier than grocery store produce, it’s more economical.
  2. Store water. Water storage is a short-term solution, but having at least 28 gallons of stored drinking water per person is prudent. This amount would last about 2 weeks. One of my favorite low-cost, super-easy water storage solutions is 275 gallon plastic “totes”. These are typically used by farmers, and are easily found on Craigslist. Make sure you know what the tote has been used for, and clean it thoroughly before filling with your emergency water supply. You’ll need an open bed pickup truck or a landscaping trailer to move it to your house.
  3. Collect rainwater, if feasible. This isn’t possible in all areas of the country due to low rainfall or environmental contamination, but in many areas rainwater can be filtered and boiled so it’s safe to drink. Food-grade plastic barrels are an effective and affordable solution. (Note: before you collect rainwater, check to be sure you live in an area where the rain is clean.)
  4. Eco-distillers. If you live by the ocean, consider getting an eco-distiller like the Eliodomestico. For $50, this clever device turns saltwater into fresh water at the rate of about 5 liters (1 gallon) per day. That’s not much water for daily living, but at least it’s enough for a modest drinking supply.