Civil Engineering

No More Water?

March 18, 2014 in Civil Engineering

Blog-YarnellJustin Yarnell,
Civil Engineer –

Let me begin by saying that I am not one of those people that believes in pollution-induced climate change.  I believe the earth and its climate are constantly changing – the same way it has been since the beginning of time.

However, I will acknowledge that changing weather patterns, plus continued population growth and development, are yielding an unfavorable outlook on one of our most essential natural resources – water.  Communities around the country are publishing dismal forecasts for future water demands versus availability.  Already, the water running outside my office window through the Eagle River and into the Colorado River never actually makes it to the Pacific Ocean – it’s completely consumed before that point.  As of February 14, Lake Powell in Utah is nearly 123 feet below its “Full Pool” level.  It has dropped nearly 46 feet just in the past 150 days.  There are many more examples nationwide. I am concerned about the outlook not only for my lifetime but also for that of my children and grandchildren.

So what is the answer?  The government thinks that lowering our emissions will reverse this trend.  I’m not convinced.  Do we just pray for water?  Possibly.  I do not doubt God’s ability to take care of his people.  But how about a more proactive approach to solving the problem?

Source: www.lakepowell.water-data.com

Source: www.lakepowell.water-data.com

The way I see it, our country is blessed to be surrounded on 2.5 sides by water.  What’s more – the ocean levels are predicted to rise as a result of melting ice caps.  How about we take a proactive approach to getting that water out of our oceans and into our communities?!  I suggest we increase the priority level of this issue and invest in research to find an efficient and cost-effective method to desalinate water.

Everyone is likely familiar with the highly-debated Keystone XL Pipeline to move oil from Canada to the Texas refineries.  If we are going to cut a path through the country to lay a gas pipe, how about we lay a couple of large raw water pipes in the same easement?  We could begin to move our newly-desalinated water from the Gulf of Mexico up through drought-ridden Texas and into the plains.

At this point, I believe it’s unrealistic to think that we could build sufficient infrastructure to fulfill all of the country’s water needs using ocean water.  But, I feel like it makes sense to take steps to begin offsetting the deficiencies.