When Barbara Kingsolver remarried she hooked up with a guy who had a nice patch of ground in Tennessee. Hilly, but nice. And when Tucson opened up a new canal as a water source with the warning “water safe for humans, but don’t put it your gold fish bowl” or words to that effect they realized it was time to consider relocating.
Humans need food, water and air to survive. And Tucson has to import everything but air. That was when the family decided to get the land back east up and running. Her description in Animal, Vegetable, Miracle is of a piece of land that’s tree covered and mostly semi vertical. They carved out some terraces that provide a wide range of vegetables. Some underbrush clearing made some very nice fruit trees accessible. What they can’t grow is available from other farmers in the area. And yes, recipes for chicken start with first catch the chicken. So to speak.
Which brings me to this article from Think Progress. Parts of the Southwest are ground zero for bringing gas and oil wells into production using hydraulic fracking. At least ninety percent of the water on this planet is tied up in the oceans. Much of the rest of the fresh water is tied up in ice caps or glaciers. Some of it is in underground aquifers that took thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of years to fill.
Now, New Mexico farmers are selling or transferring the rights to water pumped from their supplemental wells to the energy companies to use for fracking. Aside. Personally I believe that the r and the a in that word need to be replaced with a letter a little further down the alphabet food chain. Say a “u.” Because that’s just exactly what’s happening. Sand and chemicals are added to the water, it comes back up along with the oil or gas and nobody has figured out how to reclaim it. Or if they have, the companies using the water don’t want to pay to do it.
We have socialism in this country all right. The PROFITS are privatized. The mess is somebody else’s problem. The taxpayers, usually. Funny how the corporations never mention this form of welfare. Grudge a plate of beans for kid on SNAP. Ruin the water used to grow the beans? As long as the investors’ get their dividends, the CEO’s get their bonuses and the SUV’s get their fill ups; well it’s not MY problem.
When Charles Bowden wrote Killing the Hidden Waters back in the eighties the projected recharge time for the Ogallala aquifer underlying all of parts of states including Texas, Oklahoma and New Mexico was six thousand years. That was the eighties, I imagine the recharge time is longer now and the climate is even drier.
There have been schemes to artificially recharge the depleted aquifers, but where is the water going to come from. And if you can get the folks along the Mississippi, Missouri, Columbia or the Great Lakes to even agree to part with their water can you pump it in at a cost that only the energy companies can afford? Not bloody likely. And if folks think the wars over old growth forests were nasty wait until somebody tries to build a pipe line from the Columbia to the South West. No way.
We can be a testy bunch up here. And our water supplies are dependent on winter rains and snow pack. Somebody flipped the switch about January 1, and we’ve had less than half the average rainfull this year. This year won’t be a problem, but two or three years down the road?