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The Last Drop

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With the latest economic forecast predicting a resurgence in Americas job market we would be wise to consider that behind all this so called good news lies in wait a more sinister realm of reality that will have devastating consequences the likes of which would be of biblical proportions. All one has to do is to ask Lucas Spinhirne a Texas farmer. A way of life that is being blown away by the never ending drought conditions that have been draining one of the largest Aquifers in the country just to continue to grow part of this nations food supply. Today, he is staring into an abyss that many in Texas thought they never see where across the world we will all be forced to contemplate an inevitable food shortage due to the continuation of inadequate fresh water supplies.

The once bounteous quantities of water that flowed under his farmland in the Texas Panhandle are a distant memory, pumped to the last drop. Today, the only source for his wheat and sorghum comes from the modest rainfall. That's if the area receives a passing shower. “We try to catch anything that falls,” Spinhirne says. The scope of this mounting crisis cannot be overlooked. The High Plains of Texas are swiftly running out of groundwater supplied by one of the world’s largest aquifers, the Ogallala. A study by Texas Tech University has predicted that if groundwater production goes unabated, vast portions of several counties in the southern High Plains will soon have little water left in the aquifer to be of any practical value.

The Ogallala Aquifer spreads across eight states, from Texas to South Dakota, covering 111.8 million acres and 175,000 square miles. It’s the fountain of life not only for much of the Texas Panhandle, but also for the entire American Breadbasket of the Great Plains, a highly-sophisticated, amazingly-productive agricultural region that literally helps feed the world. This catastrophic depletion is primarily manmade. By the early eighties, automated center pivot irrigation devices were in wide use. This super-sized sprinkler system allowed farmers to water crops more regularly and effectively, which both significantly increased crop yields and precipitously drained the Ogallala. Compounding the draw down has been the nature of the Ogallala itself. Created 10 million years ago, this buried fossil water is in many place not recharged by precipitation or surface water. When it’s gone, it’s going to be gone for centuries.

The dire consequences are the plain fact that If the American Breadbasket cannot help supply ever-growing food demands, billions could starve. It is also know fact that this country had always managed to supply most of the worlds grain because became we had water security. Today we are faced with a water insecurity the likes of which will be devastating if we wait any longer and not put in place water transfers that would negate the depletion of our Aquifers.

The depletion of the Ogallala is an internationally important crisis and yet not one real mention of this is being in the forefront of political debates. The international consequences of not addressing this immediate concern is going to be catastrophic. With the United States having four aquifers that supported farmers for years like the Ogallala Aquifer where the depletion rate is so great leaving the farmers facing a new reality that is having an devastating effect on the worlds food supply. It is one of the biggest reasons why food prices have skyrocketed. The Floridian Aquifer underlies the entire state of Florida as well as southern portions of Alabama, Georgia and South Carolina, and covers an area of 100,000 square miles. It developed millions of years ago during the late Paleocene to early Miocene periods, when Florida was underwater, and is one of the world's most productive aquifers. The Edwards Aquifer in Texas is important as a water supply aquifer and the source of major springs. All of these Aquifers have been drained to the point of no return. If we fail to replenish our aquifers the whole world will be faced with global famine. It is that serious and imperative that steps be taken now to avoid a global catastrophe.

We know for a fact that this past winter was a brutal one with all the ice, snow and freezing rain that fell on much of the northern part of the United States. it is also a known fact that in Florida 99% of the rain fall we get goes right into the Gulf of Mexico or the Atlantic. So much of the water that could be transferred into reservoirs or back into our aquifers isn't. Time is running out to save the United States from a disaster that is already in the making. It is up to us to ensure the world doesn't face acute food shortages that are already occurring in many parts of the world as well as right here in the US. In order to stave off an international crisis it has to be a priority that infrastructure development on water transfer from areas that receive abundant fresh water either by rain or snow runoff be available to replenish the aquifers that are now being depleted into extinction. If The Romans built Aqua ducks, today, we can surely build water transfer systems interconnecting every state in the country. We built the oil pipe line from Alaska we can surely build a an interstate water transfer supply so that a disaster already in process will be stopped in time to avoided a global catastrophe.


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