It’s a simple equation from Econ 101: Decreased supply coupled with increased demand creates a shortage. But when theory translates into reality – particularly when a basic resource is at issue – the ramifications can pose serious problems.
The redistribution of the population in the U.S. – in many cases, residents moving away from areas near water sources – coupled with dry weather conditions has put a strain on the water supply, particularly in the West and Southeastern portions of the country.
A drought of “historic magnitude” has plagued the Southeast, prompting what is being referred to as a tri-state water war over federal water resources – and driving home the point that water is not an unlimited resource.
Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue recently declared Level 4 Drought conditions for all 61 counties in the northern part of the state, including the metro Atlanta area.
Many Georgia cities that depend on reservoirs for their water supply are facing serious water shortages as these reservoirs begin to dry out.
Athens, Georgia, for example, which gets its water supply from the Bear Creek Reservoir, issued a Level 4 Drought Response back in September, prohibiting all outdoor watering. The city also launched a “Think at the Sink” campaign designed to help residents conserve water by taking shorter showers, pre-treating stains before doing the laundry, and running only fully loaded dishwasher.
At this point, Atlanta, which relies on the Chattahoochee River for its water supply, is not feeling the effects of the drought any more than other area cities because the River has thus far not been affected by the drought, says Janet Ward, Public Information Officer for the Atlanta Department of Watershed Management.
However, “the Chattahoochee River is not a big river – as rivers go,” she says, and Atlanta is the largest city to be dependent on such a small water source.
“Growth can’t help but tax the water supply,” she adds, citing the fact that Atlanta is one of the fastest growing metro areas in the country.
Water issues have begun to spring up in other parts of the country as well- including the Midwest, which is feeling pressure from other areas looking to tap into water supply from the Great Lakes.