Saturday, October 6, 2007

Bill Richardson On Water II

Saturday's Milwaukee Journal Sentinel has a page-one story about presidential candidate and Democratic New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson's opinion that Great Lakes water could be shipped to the arid west.

Richardson made his remarks to a Las Vegas, Nevada newspaper.

The importance for Wisconsin readers is the damage that such water diversion could do to the Great Lakes, even as our legislature cannot craft a bill to adopt a compact with the other Great Lakes states that would make such diversions illegal.

Readers of this blog, however, already knew about Richardson's views, if they remembered this posting from five weeks ago as part of the blog's focus on Great Lakes water issues:

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Bill Richardson On Water

Democratic presidential hopeful Bill Richardson tells Nevadans that he would elevate water to cabinet-level importance.

That makes sense, since he's the Governor of arid New Mexico and is known as a big-picture thinker, though his thinking aloud about Wisconsin making water deals with arid states raises a heck of a lot of questions.

Posted by James Rowen at 1:56 PM


Anonymous said...

I'm surprised you're against this idea.

Wisconsin has more water than the western U.S. Shouldn't we therefore redistribute the water in a more equitable manner?

He's just trying to alleviate the plight of the "have-nots."

This is quintessential liberal policy...

James Rowen said...

There's a lot more involved than that.

The west has to face up to its water-profligate ways. Lake Michigan shouldn'd be drained to Las Vegas can keeps its fountaions and golf courses.

The Great Lakes can sustain the immediate states and provinces. These are international waters, don't forget.

Anonymous said...

But what about the children Jim? Are you going to not let children get the water they need because they do not live by the great lakes? This does not seem to be in line with the liberal value system.

Why should some one who is rich have to pay more taxes for the common good as you say all the time, but when it comes to water, it cannot leave the region and screw the rest of the country. I love double standards

James Rowen said...

This is not a double-standard. The Great Lakes already provide drinking water to 40 million people, and the lake levels are dropping.

The US West has plenty of water: it needs better conservation practices; the states there already share water and will work it out.

Anonymous said...

Americans forget these lakes are not exclusive property of the U.S.A. Do you think Canada would just sit by and watch their Great Lakes get drained so people in Las Vegas can have plush lawns and golf courses?

Anonymous said...

We need to recognise a couple of facts.

First of all, ALL of the western states that are currently experiencing water shortages (California, New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada, Colorado, Utah, etc) are doing so because they have unwisely grown their population by attracting industry and jobs away from the Rust Belt of the midwest (another word for Great Lakes states) over the last 25 years without any planning for how they would support the increased demand that this growth would place on were always scarce water resources in these regions.

Let's be honest with ourselves, these states' water problems aren't caused by an abundant resource that suddenly becoming scarce. There never was enough water in these regions.

Secondly they're using water inefficiently from a micro economic stand point. Why does California or anyone else believe it makes economic sense to take water from the Great Lakes just so they can grow cotton (a water intensive crop) and fruits in the desert? Why would anyone think it would be a wise use of economic and natural resources to build huge cities in the desert?

If water is truly such an important resource then maybe the correct policy should be to have all of the people who moved to the arid west over the past 25 years move back to the Great Lakes where water is plentiful and exists within a sustainable, self-replensing eco-system.

Lastly, there is the issue of an entire eco-system. The Great Lakes have existed in their present form and location since the retreat of the glaciers at the last ice age for a reason. Because they are at a mid-northern latitude that provides an equilibrium between system-wide drainage (down the St. Lawrence River and through evaporation) and replenishment that occurs via the melting of the region's snow pack and summer rainfalls (evaporation from the lakes returning to the land to drain back into the lakes).

When are we going to learn that when mankind messes with an eco-system...even by small amounts the reprecussions are often unforeseen, catastrophic and irreversible. Take a look at the Aral Sea. Why would anyone want to take such a huge gamble just to make the desert bloom?

What happens 100 years after we start shipping Great Lakes water westward and the lakes dry up (as they already are)? Eventually the lakes will lose their ability to generate moisture rich snow packs and rainfalls to replenish themselves. Lake levels are already dropping and while the reasons aren't known for certain, Global Warming is suspected to be playing a role. Draining more water out of the lakes can only hasten this process. Then we will have messed up a perfectly balanced eco-system just so we can exploit a region (the arid west) that it never should have.

And no, I am not some raging, bleeding heart liberal. I happen to live in Colorado.

Anonymous said...

Coming for someone that lives by the Great Lakes I think any idiot who choices to live where there is no water should have to deal with it. The wildlife living in the areas around the Great Lakes could be affected greatly and for a wildlife person this is unacceptable. If we start to let the southern states drain our water pretty soon the water will be gone. I am probably more conservative about my water usage then the people that actually need to be. Maybe if everyone didn't have grass that is not native to the hot weather there would be more water for the "children".