We are now nearing the end of the first decade of the 21st century, in the midst of a three-year drought, and the focus of how California will provide water for its population is primary.
Locally, we continue to debate the issue of water — where we will get it, who owns it, how we protect it, and how we pay for it. California is an arid state and has experienced droughts as long as recorded time.
We have managed to rearrange the landscape over time to accommodate the growing population and supply necessary resources. But rearranging the landscape is rapidly closing, if not completely closed. And California is not alone in its quest for more of this life-sustaining resource.
More than 1 billion people lack access to clean drinking water. It’s not that the hydrologic cycle of water has ceased, but less than one-tenth of 1 percent of all the Earth’s water is both accessible and fresh. Due to population growth and pollution, less and less is available per person every year.
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In an article written by Jason Grotto for the Rotarian in June, he writes: “Less than 3 percent of the water found on Earth is fresh. Of that amount, more than 60 percent is trapped in glaciers, 30 percent is located underground, and just 3 percent can be tapped from lakes and rivers.
Demographers estimate that the world’s population will increase by about 74 million every year until 2015. During the past century, water consumption has increased at more than twice the rate of worldwide population growth. As of 2002, more than 1 billion people around the globe lacked access to safe drinking water.”
How will we provide for the quality of life we’ve come to cherish in our own backyard? We cannot simply think in terms of here and now. Water is far too precious to take for granted. And for me, it would be irresponsible to look into the eyes of my grandkids and tell them, “It’s your problem.
You’ll have to deal with it.”
Simply put: We need water. Nacimiento water is not only available but committed, and we must pay our share. We have choices. It is our responsibility to define, preserve and protect the quality of life for generations to come. The problem is here.
Frank R. Mecham is county supervisor for District 1.