BY AWAKENING STAFF
[EDITOR’S NOTE: Directly above, clicking the numerical blue link connects to the MP3 file for the NEW RADIO EDITORIAL referred to in this story. Please give it a listen]
As previously reported on this growing website, Awakening News associate editor and fisheries expert John Devine, by phone on Jan. 31st, gave an interview an American radio station known as The Twister (KSDZ-FM in Gordon, Nebraska) calling attention to potential groundwater shortages in the U.S., Canada and beyond.
On a station that reaches three states and two time zones, John took to the air for 30 minutes that morning with host Jim Lambley to showcase the fact that groundwater shortages—due to various stress factors on the world’s aquifers—are certainly a valid concern in Ogallala Aquifer country, in which Nebraska is the central state.
That tremendous aquifer, a body of water that might qualify as another Great Lake if it were on the surface, is underneath nearly all of Nebraska and parts of seven other states.
Using the best-possible estimates—keeping in mind the reluctance of the states and science community to discuss the status of our aquifers—the Awakening has offered the opinion in past articles that the Ogallala is perhaps being “mined” to the tune of 60 million gallons a day.
The question then becomes: At what point does the usually profit-driven mining of the aquifers overtake whatever replenishment capabilities the aquifers have?
ARIZONA: AQUIFER STRESS ALREADY SHOWING
But while that’s cause for concern in most people’s eyes, for now let’s consider the water woes in LaPaz County, Arizona, which hugs the California border. Accordingly, about two weeks after its interview with Devine, the Twister also aired a three-minute editorial on the fragile state of Arizona’s aquifers. See the MP3 link at the top of this article to hear it.
Lapaz County leaders over the last few years have been raising concerns about Middle Eastern farm companies, most notably from Saudi Arabia, that have moved to Western Arizona to grow alfalfa.
Get this: The alfalfa is shipped to feed the cattle at Saudi dairies. It just so happens that growing alfalfa is water-intensive, using millions of “acre-feet” of groundwater.
And that especially concerns LaPaz County Supervisor Holly Irwin.
According to her, water issues in the county began after a Saudi-based dairy company, Fondomonte Arizona, bought over 10,000 acres, up to 14,000 or so, in 2014—to preserve water resources in Saudi Arabia.
That’s a lot of farmland, reportedly purchased for just over 47 million dollars. According to the local Fox News affiliate, the purchase of land and associated water supplies took place in California as well as Arizona.
Around that time, Irwin stated: “They’re . . . buying land over here and using our natural resources, and we get nothing . . . . We don’t get oil for free, how come we’re allowing water to just be depleted for nothing.”
Thus, in La Paz, population 20,000, the wells conceivably are at risk of running dry. Irwin added: “There is no restriction, they can just keep pumping and pumping and pumping. . .”
And while Arizona natural resources officials claimed a couple years ago that the area’s groundwater levels remained strong, the real question to ask is why American water supplies should be treated like they have no inherent value—an issue the Awakening News has repeatedly brought to the public’s attention in Canada and the U.S.
Why? Because if the wells go too low, the bankers may so NO to financing farmers and other landowners whose credit is tied to having sufficiently large and clean water supplies.
In the Arizona case, the value the Saudis are paying for is the water. Accordingly, Irwin has suggested taxing the Saudi operation for its water usage—perhaps to finance a water fund for American citizens in the area whose wells could be drawn down by the alfalfa operation.
Such a water tariff makes sense whether the aquifer levels are high or low, as a protectionist measure to offset the groundwater impact of the alfalfa operation.
As Mr. Devine has said, America and other developed nations, including of course Canada, run the risk of incurring a groundwater trade deficit whenever excessive amounts of water are freely mined to produce things for export and the exporting country is not adequately compensated for the water resources that were used to make the exports possible.
So, the U.S is evidently seeing its water-resources dwindle in the arid Western state of Arizona bordering California—where droughts and severe wildfires have already wreaked far too much havoc with a tremendous loss of lives and property.
EVEN WORSE IN SOUTH AFRICA
Meanwhile, things are looking even worse in the city of Cape Town, South Africa, proving that the inaction across much of the world to properly value and manage water supplies can have immediate and dire consequences.
According to the Reuters news service, “Cape Town, which is battling to keep its taps flowing as reservoirs run close to dry following a three-year drought, declared a national disaster this month. Without rain, Cape Town could run out of water by July 9, city authorities predict.”
Due to this apparently unprecedented water shortage in a highly populated area, “airport authorities [often turn off] all the sink taps but one, leaving visitors to wait in line to wash their hands, under the watchful eye of a bathroom attendant,” Reuters also noted.
By the way, Mr. Devine back in the 1990’s saw his family’s innovative recycling-based fish hatchery technology, designed to reverse the ultra-heavy water-usage of conventional fisheries by 90%, bulldozed by a rapacious government in Ontario, Canada—part of a corrupt process that enables mounting debts, dereliction of duty, the demolition of property rights, free-speech restrictions and the related erosion of the democratic process itself, to worsen even more.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Stay tuned for our next story on how Ontario politicians, mainly within the conservative camp, have been enablers in that process—a key issue as the election for the Ontario Progressive Conservative Party’s leadership comes up on March 10th.