Levine: Rethinking water scarcity and flood control

Years ago I traveled through several Latin American countries. I met many people who pointed to dry lands and told of the days their grandparents would fish in long gone lakes and rivers. The disappearance or shrinking of multiple water sources in our country is also evident.

Joel Levine

Earth’s aquifers (groundwater reserves) and above-ground reservoirs are losing more fresh water than replenishing. The UN Population Fund and UNFPA’s World Population Report estimated the world will begin to run out of fresh water by 2050.

It seems clear that at the present rate of population growth (7.5 billion today projected at 10 billion by 2050) and fresh water consumption, a time will come when battles for fresh water will be worse than anything we can presently contemplate.

Whenever there’s a drought or a flood — which in recent years seem to be all the time — my friends and acquaintances separately debate possible solutions to water scarcity and flood control. Is there an approach which, perhaps not a panacea, would alleviate both problems?

Suggestions abound concerning ocean desalination (with what consequences), more efficient tapping of underground water sources (with what consequences) or perhaps the inevitable — finding other habitable planets. I do have a temporizing thought that might serve us until we find the next planet awaiting man’s desiccation. We have seen great floods in many parts of our country.

Would it be possible to build pipelines to move that water west to the areas of the country needing it most?

— Joel Levine, Scottsdale resident

Yes, I realize there are many obstacles, but now I’m simply asking is it possible? The US has 1,382,570 miles of pipelines, mainly transporting oil and natural gas. I understand pipelining from a stationary source is easier than controlling the unpredictable flow of water from somewhat unpredictable sources. So for now, I’m just asking if it is possible.

Is the American ingenuity that put men on the moon and sent a spacecraft over 13 billion miles from earth sufficient to devise a system that could simultaneously relieve flood victims and benefit those sorely needing water? It appears many of the same rivers overflow, and perhaps some method of collection and transportation could be built in the hardest hit areas.

As an additional benefit we could put thousands of unemployed steel, auto, coal, mine and other hands to work.

While on the subject of employment, I clearly recall 2016 presidential candidates visiting unemployed people who once held good-paying jobs in shrinking industries and were desperate to find employment. It appears that many have yet to find dependable work. Then I see news stories where companies are seeking thousands of workers—not all requiring coding skills by the way.

— Joel Levine, Scottsdale resident

Why can’t the US Department of Labor set up a database matching people to positions? I’d like to see every unemployed mine, auto, steel and other worker inputted to that database and match them with companies looking for workers. One central place registering all job seekers matched with all companies seeking workers. Should the government become an employment agency? The program would not have to be exclusive—employment could be effected through existing or new avenues which help some, but leave many unemployed.

Certainly, there will be relocations, training and other complications, but even in this purportedly bourgeoning economy there are many decent hard working people who would jump at the opportunity to obtain steady work.

I believe most Americans are willing to work hard if given the opportunity. I won’t set forth some of the operational wrinkles of such a program, but like my question above, why not?

Editor’s note: Mr. Levine is a lawyer, businessman and Scottsdale resident. Learn more at joellevineesq.com

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