By Emily Clever
I read The Big Thirst a few years ago, not long after it was published. I am glad that it was on the reading list this year because I needed a bit of a refresher (honestly no pun intended). The only thing I remembered was some idea about taking water from the Great Lakes region and piping it to Las Vegas.
Pat Mulroy, who proposed the idea, was angry that the Great Lakes states had an agreement among them that the water would remain in the region based on fear that states out West would try to purchase it. When I first read this idea years ago the whole idea sounded incredibly absurd. The amount of money it would cost to lay the pipes and then the energy needed to move the water along would be enormous. Having read this book a 2nd time and having read This Changes Everything by Naomi Klein there may be a bigger issue with this idea than feasibility and perceptions of the Great Lakes being immature water hoarders. In This Changes Everything there is a discussion regarding solar radiation management (SRM) and it brought up three interesting questions which seem applicable here, just substitute SRM with reallocating water.
Question 1: Is the human that gave us the climate crisis capable of properly/safely regulating this reallocation of water?
Question 2: In considering water reallocation regulation, are we not in danger of perpetuating the view that the earth can be manipulated in our interests?
Question 3: Don’t we have to engage with these questions before we place ourselves in the triangle?”
It is also possible that the Great Lakes states not only acted to protect the water should other states come wanting to purchase but because they see the water crisis in other states and are trying to prevent that from happening in their region. This region may have a history of providing more than enough water for its residents and their needs, but as other areas have shown that is not a long-term guarantee. As we read in last months book, actions that occurred decades before can have lasting impacts on the availability of water now and in the future.
Please join the discussion April 25 at 7pm at the River Action office, 822 E River Dr, Davenport.