Approaching Water Crisis Studied by The Saturday Evening Post

In the July/August issue of The Saturday Evening Post, Barry Yeoman takes a look at the current water situation and discusses what can be done to help protect future generations.

As climate change becomes an increasingly pressing issue in science, politics, and the media, America’s wasteful water usage is being called into question. Conservationists and agricultural specialists alike are urging nationwide change in policy and attitude. In the July/August issue of The Saturday Evening Post, now available on newsstands, award-winning journalist Barry Yeoman examines our current water situation and what can be done to protect future generations.

According to Yeoman, “we need to stop thinking of this precious life-giving substance as cheap and infinite.”

Despite the easy flow of water from our sinks, showers, and garden hoses, in many parts of the country water is becoming dangerously scarce. Yeoman explores what today’s water problems mean for the future and what can be done to promote positive change:

What the Future Holds: Scientists say higher temperatures will cause more evaporation and alter the slow, steady snowpack melts that provide much of the West’s water. Droughts will become more common as well. Meanwhile, demand will increase as farmers and gardeners try to grow the same plants in hotter, drier conditions. Research predicts that 1,020 U.S. counties, mostly in the Great Plains and Southwest, face high or extreme water-shortage risks by 2050 in large part because of climate change.

Community-Wide Change: Ensuring enough water for a growing America will require everyone to pitch in. Farmers will need to reevaluate their crop choices and use more efficient irrigation technology. Cities and suburbs will need to adopt rate structures that reflect water’s true cost and penalize inefficiency. Conservation efforts must also target cultural norms. Yeoman states the city of Tucson has taken ownership of its water problem by creating a culture where people just don’t feel comfortable wasting water, and activities as simple as putting a lawn on your property are met with resistance from fellow community members.

Ways to Save Water: While water conservation needs to span communities, it starts with the individual household. Tips for conserving water include considering alternative lawn options, using energy-saving dishwashers to run an efficient kitchen, installing low-flow showerheads and turning off the tap when brushing your teeth, incorporating “gray water” (wastewater from your tub or clothes washer) as a means for landscaping, compositing, and flushing toilets, and keeping up with fixing leaks to conserve water not being used.

The forces of climate change and human wastefulness seem epic and beyond our control, but Yeoman proclaims we have the power to transform. And now is the time for action. “Surviving the 21st century will mean changing how we all view and use water – treating it like the precious resource it has always been.”