Are we headed to fresh water shortages?

(Dan here…I lifted reader Michael Smith piece on water use in open thread Dec. 22. The topic is well worth writing about…AB used to discuss this issue regularly starting in 2008 during the severe drought in the US when the southeast was contemplating court action amongst themselves to ensure their own supplies.. Search “water” in AB for a sample)

Michael Smith writes:

I should probably write a longer piece on this but I’ll try to summarize the best I can.

Had lunch with a prominent client scientist in my region that frankly scared the crap out of me. The hydrologic cycle is being seriously disrupted.

Here is what we know:

The Powell 100th meridian has moved east, by a lot.

Approximately 85% of our produce comes from drought areas (Mexico, California, etc)

Approx. 50% of water usage is due to agriculture and most of that happens in western states. My farm is in cow town, Texas and we have very poor surface water and rain patterns, so we pump from the aquifer.

Major municipalities are being forced to stop pumping from aquifers. City of Houston vs. Dow Chemical Co. is and interesting case where the fight over land to impound water is being fought over.

Google, et. al. use billions of gallons of water to cool their data centers and that has significantly increased this year.

Water is now a listed commodity.

He also mentioned that 2 feet of sea level rise is expected for the north western gulf coast and that will be catastrophic for Galveston and Houston, just by itself. He said further to that the flooding is an obvious issue but they need to quantify how many water sources are in low or semi-low areas that could become useless if storm surge reaches them (he isn’t a public works guy).

Been researching for almost a year now and no one seems to be tackling the issue.

Why you ask? Well we have to get anecdotal.

I have a farm, I pump from a well to irrigate on an active drip irrigation system. We are in on again off again drought (well west of the new Powell Line) and also the city of San Antonio is pumping 4 million gallons a day out of the aquifer. Hydrologist pays me to collect rainwater, I do. I explain to him if I trap rainwater, it doesn’t go into the aquifer. So basically a negative feedback loop. See, harder issue to solve than what’s on the surface.