Fighting for Water

Drought is causing serious issues, but therein lies opportunity to move forward.

A few weeks ago, one of my friends referenced a podcast or article he’d read about how the next great catastrophe will revolve around access to clean water.

We didn’t dive too deep into it, but my immediate thought was about water rights issues and disputes across the parched American West. My second thought was of the column I wrote in the July issue of MSW, about the abundant water resources in the area I live.

For the past two weeks an older man with a gray beard and what appears to be his two grandsons have been anchoring a pontoon boat in front of my house in the evening.  They fish in front of my house for a couple hours and then head out just before dark. Sometimes it’s slightly annoying if I’m on the dock or swimming, but I don’t own the lake — only the land leading up to my 100 feet of frontage. That’s about as close as I’ve ever come to a water dispute.

Shortly after my friend brought it up, I saw a couple stories about the drought out West. “We’re Inching Towards Actual Violence Over Access to Water” read one headline. “‘Mega-drought’ depletes system that provides water to 40 million” the other stated. The former referred to the drought’s effects as “another crisis within the general climate crisis.” The latter included links to several stories about climate change and “tipping points.”

It really doesn’t matter what you or your customers think of the causes of climate change. Whether it’s caused by humans or any number of other factors, we are one country and some of our states are drying up. The Colorado River is doing all it can, but this drought is historic and the effects are very real. That said, I don’t think California is going to be abandoned; I don’t think Californians are going to leave en masse for Minnesota and Wisconsin.

There’s an incredible amount of technology and innovation in the water and wastewater industry. I believe we’ll find more efficient ways to manage our resources and better means of preventing loss. Maybe desalination will become a bigger piece of the puzzle. Reuse is certainly part of the mix as well, but you have to have it before you can reuse it.

I certainly don’t have the answers. I don’t pretend to share your level of expertise. But based on what I know of this industry, I believe we’ll find the solution. I believe we can find a way to adapt to these changes, if not counteract them.

Twenty-five years ago, many of the processes and systems you use on a daily basis were science fiction. We don’t know what tomorrow might bring. The solutions to these problems could lie in the mind of a West Coast engineer or in the head of an unknowing 12-year-old halfway around the world, but I do think they exist, and I like being part of an industry with the capabilities to solve problems that impact so many people.

Enjoy this month’s issue. 

Comments on this column or about any article in this publication may be directed to editor Luke Laggis, 800-257-7222;


Comments on this site are submitted by users and are not endorsed by nor do they reflect the views or opinions of COLE Publishing, Inc. Comments are moderated before being posted.