Source : Charleston Gazette
CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Recently a friend moved to Tucson, Az. Tucson is a fast-growing city with a gigantic problem. Water is scarce and feuds are on going about supply, much of which arrives through viaducts from outside the region. I advised my friend to make sure that any purchased home includes an allocation of viaduct water in the contract, an acceptable provision in that area.
Not long ago, basic economics included a discussion of “free goods” — water, oxygen, and similar commodities essential for life. That situation has changed dramatically. Oxygen is dispensed by vending machines in places as varied as Cusco, Peru, and Toyko, Japan. In a similar manner, water has become an extremely valuable commodity as well and is increasingly dispensed in bottles. Public drinking fountains will likely disappear as rapidly as payphones.
We all know that water is essential for life. As a Peace Corps volunteer in West Africa, I saw first hand the problems such as dehydration caused by a lack of water, and problems such as river blindness caused by bad water. The evening television news showed people in Haiti fighting each other for access to drinking water as they dealt with the devastating earthquake on Jan. 12 that made one in seven homeless and cost 300,000 lives.
We may not know that the cost of water is about to explode as fresh and clean water becomes scarcer. Since water is also the core ingredient for basic drinks and food products, scarcer water supplies will have an expensive impact throughout the chain of consumer goods. Contributing to the rising costs are changing climatic conditions such as drought as well as the purification techniques needed to clean the water of contaminants.
West Virginia is in a unique situation. West Virginia owns the waterways that touch the state’s boundaries, such as the Ohio River, as well as all creeks, rivers and streams within the state. Wise conservation and careful use of that extremely valuable resource will permit West Virginia to have a competitive edge for future growth, development and quality of life.