Texas vs New Mexico Water Dispute, World Crisis Looming

B. McPherson
Water, the Blue Gold, will become the next global flashpoint.
Texas is confronting New Mexico in the Supreme Court over water. Texas and much of the US interior has been struggling with multi year drought conditions and the lack of water is reaching a crisis point. Texas is maintaining that New Mexico is pumping water out of the ground at a rate that impinges on Texas’s supply and violates treaties agreed to.

New Mexico for its part is maintaining that the most recent treaty was forced on them and they need the water for their purposes.

This spat between states is a microcosm of what is happening around the world where potable water is concerned.

While North America is engaged in a rush to extract oil and gas resources, and endangering the water supplies by pumping toxic chemicals under pressure into the ground(fracking), the country famed for its massive pool of oil Saudi Arabia, is rapidly running out of water.

That kingdom has supplied petroleum products to the world over the past couple of generations, but is desperate to find water to sustain its people. The arid desert country sits atop a vast reservoir of fossil water laid down when the climate was much wetter. In one generation, the country’s agricultural practises have squandered this precious resource. In order to have food security the Saudis are engaged in a world wide search for agricultural land and the water to go with it.

“The King Abdullah Initiative for Saudi Agricultural Investment Abroad, launched in 2008, is providing government credit and diplomatic support for Saudi companies buying up foreign land and water to feed Saudis. Schemes are under way from the banks of the Senegal River in West Africa to the rain forest of Indonesian New Guinea." National Geographic News
Saudi Arabia is not alone in trying to secure agricultural land and water for their citizens at the expense of the poor people living in those countries. South Sudan’s Sud, a marshy wetland is increasingly leased out to big foreign corporations, the Niger River in Mali is being eyed as a source of foreign money in exchange for occupation of the wetlands. In Mali, China, Libya, Germany and France all have agricultural interests and the irrigation of their holdings takes precedence over the native populations needs.

The human toll in the rush to acquire and keep control of fresh water has many environmental impacts besides the toll in human suffering. Unsustainable pumping of groundwater denies future generations any hope of enough potable water. The ecology of the areas are changed forever. Plants and animals go extinct. The whole world is poorer.

In British Columbia the provincial government is making noises about the vast supply of natural gas we have locked up in shale formations(shale gas). All it will take is for fracking to take place and we can sell the shale gas to foreigners for huge amounts of money.

I wonder is the Saudis would like to trade some of their oil money for abundant, clean water. They are coming to realize that they can survive without oil but not without water. It’s a hard lesson and one that we should pay attention to.


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