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I flew over Minnesota a few weeks ago and was reminded why they call that state the land of 10,000 lakes. I would even go as far as to say that 10,000 could be an underestimation. From my vantage point, about 35,000 feet above the landscape, it almost appeared as if there were more acreage of water than land. Of course, as the journey continued toward SoCal things began to dry up.
Flying over the farm belt, I could see meandering rivers and irrigated lands, but as we approached Denver, it was obvious water was becoming more and more a commodity. Then as we lifted above the Rockies, still covered in snow (this was mid-June) water was back to being an abundant crop. But you can fly over the Rockies in about a half hour, and once to the west of the Wasatch Range, the mountains you see in all the Utah skiing ads, about the only water you see from the air is the water in your glass.
Fast forward a couple of weeks and Iím driving up the I-5 in Calif. on the way to Napa. As you get to the north of LA there are a series of reservoirs that are so regulated that while you can take a boat on them to fish, you are not allowed to jump in the water to swim for fear of contaminating the drinking water supply of millions of residents. Then, crossing the famous Grapevine, you enter the San Joaquin Valley, one of the most fertile farmlands in the world . . . However, it is one of the hottest and driest places on earth as well.
If not for the concrete lined California Aqueduct, channeling water from the water-rich north, there would be no breadbasket in central California. Even then, the battle for water is so intense the freeway is lined with signs, placed by local farmers, begging for more water. Evidently, there are some fish babies in northern California that have a better lobby.
Once you get to Napa, there is water everywhere (and itís almost biblical how much of that water is turned into wine . . .) Remember, though, this is California, so where do you suppose more people live? In the water-rich north or the arid south?
Of course, you would expect California to be all messed up. The battle for water, though, is a nationwide issue. Just ask the people in Oklahoma and Texas, who had to go to the Supreme Court in a battle over the Red River. Or ask the folks in northern Georgia if some of the water in the Tennessee River belongs to the Peach State. Yep, the battle for water is heating up. Either you have it or you want it. And even though some have so much they have to plan to keep it away, I donít see any place working to ship it to places in need.
As much as I hate having the federal government get involved, it is time for a national water strategy. They might not let a pipeline of oil cross the nation, but it might be a good idea to plumb the nation. The thing is . . . Water is one of those possessions, that even though youíre floating down your flooded street in a boat, the thought of giving that water away is unfathomable. Nobody is going to volunteer to give away their water. Nope . . . Themís fightiní words.
So while those in the landscape industry are doing their best to plan for the water we have, maybe itís time for the nation to start planning to get the water to where it is needed . . . And who needs that water more than you . . .