From time to time, I see a story about drought conditions in the Western United States. Much of the Southwestern United States is currently under severe drought conditions. The knee-jerk solution to the problem is to look toward Great Lakes water.
The United Nations warns that about 1.8 billion people will be living under extreme drought and water stress conditions. In 2017 Cape Town, South Africa, narrowly avoided “Day Zero” when it was feared the municipal water supply would be shut off.
Can Great Lakes Water Be Taken Away?
A recent story by Fox News talk radio station KLIX in Idaho suggested they start “borrowing the Great Lakes” by pumping Lake Michigan to Idaho to relieve them of drought conditions. The story goes on to say, ”
“Millions of thirsty western voters will have a lot of pull on policy. As the region grows, so does its power in the United States House of Representatives. By its design, the Senate is already favorable to western concerns. Lake Michigan may be coming to Idaho.”Idaho Drought Could be Solved by Borrowing the Great Lakes – KLIX 1310
This is not the first story nor the last about siphoning off our region’s lakes. However, it’s the first time I’ve seen a threat made to take the water based on the political power of the western states. A chilling thought. I’m appalled by the general scarcity of understanding of how fragile the Great Lakes are.
Great Lakes Water is a Vital Resource And Needs to Stay Here.
Shared with Canada and traversing more than 750 miles from west to east, these immense inland freshwater seas provide water for consumption, transportation, power, and recreation. The Great lake’s basin hosts 84% of North America’s freshwater. About 21% of the world’s supply of surface freshwater. 10 % of the US population, 30 million people, and more than 30% of the Canadian population depend on the Great Lakes for drinking water.
Those who have studied this issue are pretty aware that that’s darn near impossible to suck any significant water from the Great Lakes. Economically such a project would be in the 100’s of billions. The Great Lakes Compact, to which both the United States and Canada are signatories, prevents any water removal from the Great Lakes watershed. However, from time to time, the idea is still floated about.
That does not mean to say that the Great Lakes are wholly protected. Foreign companies such as Nestle pumps 400 gallons a minute out of the aquifers in the region. They sell it back to us in plastic water bottles.
The water levels on the lakes are such a huge economic and recreational issue that I now give a monthly summary of the Great Lakes Water Levels from the Army Corps of Engineers – Detroit District.
Could the Great Lakes Be an Oasis for Water Refugees?
In the near future, it’s entirely possible that the entire Great Lakes Region could become an oasis for a water-starved America. Suppose climate change results in larger areas of the United States being stricken by drought. One extreme drought forecast said the western states could be in this situation for hundreds of years. In that case, you could forecast an exodus of people and businesses moving in to seek our precious water.