SciSun: Water Water Everywhere….   Leave a comment

and not a drop to drink, is the saying. There’s basically the same amount of water on the earth today, as there’s been for hundreds-of-thousands, if not millions, of years. Not all the water is in the same form; some that had been liquid is now ice; and some that was fresh is now salty; or other changes. This water-cycle insures that water on earth, in the form of lakes and ponds and oceans and even the water vapor we breath out – evaporates into the atmosphere, where it travels in the form of clouds and vapor, condenses,and falls back to the ground as rain or snow precipitation. Then it’s stored in bodies of water, or ice, or underground; the water is naturally filtered and cleaned as the cycle continues. Of course along the way all species, from plants to animals, use the water for drinking and washing and places to live. So the water we have now is what others had then, and more than likely all that will be in the future. (The water you brushed your teeth with today might have been gulped down by a dinosaur millions of years ago; then somehow found it’s way back to the cycle. If you know what we mean).

But today, lack of water is a serious problem in much of the world and here in the United States, where for generations we’ve been fortunate to usually have all the water we want, many areas are suffering and actually running low on water. This is generally because there’s too much demand for the limited amount of water available – 99 percent of all water is ice of the Arctic and Antarctic regions, and the oceans. So that doesn’t leave much to provide for the farmers and water-recreation-enthusiasts and quality aquatic environments for fish and lawn sprinklers and everything else. And unfortunately, this problem isn’t getting any better, particularly because many people want to live in areas where there isn’t a lot of water naturally, but they still want the lifestyle that comes from lush green lawns and swimming pools.

Southern Nevada – particularly the Las Vegas area – is one of those areas. With the millions of people living and visiting the city (which is at the edge of one of the driest deserts in the US), the city needs a LOT of water – and they are running out of places to get that water. There’s a plan to build a 300 mile water pipeline from the Great Basin, in the north, to Las Vegas, that planners think will provide all the water Las Vegas needs for years to come. However the Great Basin is also a significant farm, ranch and wildlife area, home to millions of livestock like cows and sheep; is along the path of the Pacific Flyway, a major migration route for over 350 species of birds; and even includes the complex and unique Great Basin National Park.

great basin aquifier USGSThe planned pipeline will certainly drain much of the water now needed for plants, animals and a healthy environment; and some scientists estimate the water table – the amount of available water underground – will drop over 200 feet, making it impossible to reach enough water to sustain the farms and ranches and wildlife. This would also be the end of the line for rare and endangered species living in the region. Organizations and individuals are working to keep the water where it could do the most good, but it will be hard to fight the bright lights and celebrity lifestyles of Las Vegas. After all, would you rather have clean, fresh water; or 24 hour lobster buffets and exclusive golf courses?

Water might be scarce; but there’s enough to learn for everyone!

Posted August 12, 2012 by ECOVIA eco-adventure® in SciSun

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