Visionary thinking has given America three magnificent man-made lakes. Lake Mead in the Las Vegas Area, Lake Sakakawea in North Dakota and Lake Powell in Utah, have brought economic development, sustainability, recreation and great quality-of-life benefits to countless millions. While increasing consumption and drought will always challenge our reservoirs, these big three remain formidable sources of water for years to come.
The vision, organization and work ethic that went into these projects is nothing less than astounding. Long before concerns about over-population and climate change were known to the public, the world was blessed with some leaders who recognized the importance of forward-thinking as it applied to water.
Sadly, that spirit has all but evaporated in America. When it comes to water Americans are reactive. That is to say that until there is a problem, we tend not to do anything. This approach is dangerous and it will surely allow unforeseen conditions to creep up on us in the future and present new water dilemmas.
Recently, Bill Gates announced a $1 billion fund to develop green energy technologies. I don’t remember seeing any mention of water in his plan. In fact I can’t think of any major plans to address our future-and-growing water needs.
The American West still faces shortages; by sheer impact of the pollution of civilization our water supplies face increasing contamination; most of of treatment plants are not equipped to perform the higher levels of testing that will be needed tomorrow; our universities are severely lacking in curricula that produce trained water technology professionals; we continue to under-utilize existing water recycle technologies, the public continues to thirst for proper water education; and much of our water delivery infrastructure is acutely in need of repair and upgrade.