Letters to the Pilot

Thursday, October 17, 2002

SL industrial demand taxes resources

I subscribe to the notion that water (preferably fresh, clean water) is necessary to sustain human life on earth. As the population grows, there is a corresponding increase in the demand for, and use of, the world's fresh water. At some point, there will be competition for this water as there is competition for other natural resources.

Quoting from an editorial by the Des Moines Register staff which appeared on October 8, 2002, "If the world's water supply is expressed as one gallon, fresh water would account for 4 ounces of that and readily accessible fresh water would account for two drops. At least 400 million people today live in regions with severe water shortages. By 2050, that number will be 4 billion." (Source: U.S. Agency for International Develop-ment/World Food Prize Foundation.)

According to "People and Water" as published by the Register on October 10, 2002, "Global consumption of water is doubling every 20 years, twice the rate of population growth. By 2025, fresh water demand is expected to rise to 56 percent more than the amount currently available, which is already insufficient in many parts of the world."

It has only been within the last 100 years or so that there have been significant concentrations of humans and human activity in much of what is now the United States.

Until the 1930s, the City of Storm Lake obtained its water from the lake with the same name. Since then, water for municipal use has been obtained from aquifers.

Presumably, water has entered and been stored in these aquifers over periods of hundreds and, perhaps, thousands of years.

I submit that mankind is removing and consuming the fresh water found in Midwestern aquifers at a much more rapid rate than these aquifers are being recharged, if they are being recharged at all. It seems reasonable to assume that there is far less "readily accessible" fresh water locally now than there was 50 years ago. "Readily accessible" fresh water would certainly seem to be a limited resource.

With mankind's ever increasing need for this limited resource, it seems fair to conclude that the availability of fresh water will be diminished and the cost/value of the remaining fresh water will increase.

Fresh water is obviously necessary to sustain human life. As the demand for this limited resource continues to increase, government at all levels must be extremely careful to not let

control of our limited fresh water supply end up in private (corporate) controls. Molly Ivins, a syndicated columnist with Creators Syndicate, writes in the October 2, 2002, edition of the Sioux City Journal that in the United States, foreign (mostly French such as Vivendi, Perrier and Suez) and U.S. corporations are obtaining water rights "as fast as they can..."

She also reports that all or part of the water delivery systems in Atlanta, Chattanooga, Houston, Jacksonville, Jersey City, Lexington, Peoria and San Francisco have already been privatized. Do we want this to happen in Storm Lake?

In the House version of a bill presently moving through Congress, the Water Investment Act, which is to provide funds for cities to upgrade or expand their water systems, also has a provision that would provide public subsidies to private water companies.

Yes, there are certain inefficiencies inherent in government and its administrative agencies; but recent corporate accounting and financial scandals should be a reminder that the private

(corporate) sector should never be allowed to be a player in ownership or distribution of water. It is my opinion that there have been (and likely always will be) influential special interest groups who will continually attempt to influence the legislative process to obtain legislation which results in favorable treatment for the private (corporate) sector.

I understand that two industrial users in Storm Lake annually consume 60 to 70 percent of the fresh water obtained and processed by the city.

Before allowing Storm Lake's industrial users and consumers of water a license to take ever more water, we had better take a good look at this and give it some thought. When the water is gone, these industries will be gone. What about those who remain? There is the problem as I see it. What to do? Contact local, state and federal representatives to let them know that there are some very serious water issues with which we must be concerned. The issue of protection and preservation of the world's fresh water supply is so important that we must be concerned with this at the federal, state and local levels. I urge you to let your council person, county supervisor, and state and federal representatives know how you feel.

Steven T. Roth,

Storm Lake