One factor that shaped the history of the United States, particularly the part of the U.S. that is east of the Mississippi River, is our country's supply of fresh water. The rivers and lakes of our country allowed settlers to penetrate the inland, transport goods, and provided water for businesses, farms, and households. Like a lot of other things, though, our country's supply of fresh water is threaten by growth in our population and environmental factors like drought and global warming.
The Akron Beacon Journal had a story on its website dated October 27, 2007, which explores what is happening to our water supply. This is a quote from the story:
An epic drought in Georgia threatens the water supply for millions. Florida doesn't have nearly enough water for its expected population boom. The Great Lakes are shrinking. Upstate New York's reservoirs have dropped to record lows. And in the West, the Sierra Nevada snowpack is melting faster each year.
Across America, the picture is critically clear the nation's freshwater supplies can no longer quench its thirst.
The government projects that at least 36 states will face water shortages within five years because of a combination of rising temperatures, drought, population growth, urban sprawl, waste and excess.
This is not just a concern of western and southeastern states, it is also a concern for Ohio. One thing that a lot of Ohioans aren't aware of is that Ohio's use of Lake Erie is controlled by a treaty between the United States and Canada that created the St. Lawrence waterway project. That project opened up the Great Lakes to international shipping, and greatly benefited both the U.S. and Canada, but the treaty creating the Waterway also mandates that water cannot be taken from Lake Erie and pumped over a Continental Divide.
In Ohio there is such a divide that runs through Medina County around the River Styx area. North of that divide water from Lake Erie can be used for municipal water systems. South of that divide, however, the water cannot be used for municipal water systems. This means that water from Lake Erie cannot be used for water systems for cities and villages like Wadsworth, Lodi, and Seville.
Both the U.S. and Ohio need to start looking at this problem and coming up with solutions. If we don't, then our children and grandchildren may end up living in a nation where fresh water is much harder to find.