EcoMyths: Myth-If Water Runs Low, We Can Get More Elsewhere

March 18, 2014

(AP Photo/Nati Harnik, File)
Nov. 20, 2012 file photo shows a dried pond, the outcome of drought, in Waterloo, Neb. There are varying degrees of drought conditions in the Plains region, but a National Weather Service hydrologist says predicted above-normal rain for spring 2014 might ease some of the problem. Nathan Fields with the National Corn Growers Association says that during the 2012 drought, he learned how quickly it can set in and affect crop production.


For our regular EcoMyths segment, in honor of World Water Day, we thought we'd take a hard look at two very different watersheds—and the very similar reasons that experts believe that using water where it falls is key to sustaining water supply.

A Tale of Two Regions: The Thirsty Old West and the Great Lakes 

While parched California's dreamin' all about rain, in the Great Lakes, the jaw-stopping chill that was the Polar Vortex is actually helping increase the region's long-term water supply. It's a striking difference, with the West languishing in drought, and the Great Lakes as seemingly water-rich as ever.

So what can we do to even the playing field between water-rich and thirsty states? At first glance, the possibilities might seem limitless, from piping in water from elsewhere to desalinating what's already nearby to simply conserving what we've got. We set out to solve the problem of water shortage…but remembering we are mere mortals, contented ourselves with burrowing into the rabbit hole of water policy to give you a basic picture of different opportunities.

To help navigate the waters, we turned to Jared Teutsch, J.D., water policy advocate at Alliance for the Great Lakes. He'll talk about about water conservation efforts, locally and internationally, from Chicago to China.