Editor’s note: I have never dedicated an entire newsletter to a single issue but, as someone who follows trends, the issues surrounding water are so serious that it is essential all leaders allot more time to thinking about this precious resource. For, as the above quote says, water is life!
Think: In 2018, Cape Town–a city of 5 million people in South Africa–almost ran out of water. Now, a small city in the U.S.–Coalinga, CA–is on the verge of running out of water. (In fact, it was slated to go dry yesterday, December 1, 2022.) Coalinga will not be the only town to face this issue. Cities across the southwestern portion of the United States could soon go dry. If you are a business leader, now is the time to begin getting serious about water conservation. It is also time to consider how water could become vastly more expensive in the near future. Are you prepared for such a future? Is anyone?
Think: In the Midwest, the Mississippi River is running so low that 3000 barges have been grounded. This means many farmers are unable to get their products to market. The Mississippi is not the only river facing such a crisis. The Colorado River is in even worse shape. Unlike the Mississippi, it is not essential for moving agricultural products but its dams do produce a serious amount of energy. If hydroelectric plants don’t have a sufficient amount of water they can’t produce energy. So, in addition, to not having enough water, business leaders must also spend time considering how they are going to secure a sufficient amount of energy to power their offices and facilities.
Think: Drying rivers are not only a problem in the U.S. The Yangtze in China, the Tigris in Iraq, and the Rhine in Europe are also running dangerously low which could lead to “water wars” among farmers, businesses and communities.. Each has its own unique set of problems but a lack of water could also pose a series of serious geopolitical issues, including mass migration and, possibly, even real wars between countries.
Think: The situation is not entirely bleak. Innovations such as this portable desalination unit offer hope. Unfortunately, such technological solutions will just be a drop in the proverbial bucket. (No pun intended.)
Think: The answer to the problem is as simple as it is complex. We must all begin changing our behavior and become better at how we use and manage water. Here are 50 ways to think smarter about how you use and manage water.
Afterthought: “The rivers are our brothers, they quench our thirst. The rivers carry our canoes, and feed our children. If we sell you our land, you must remember, and teach your children, that the rivers are our brothers, and yours, and you must henceforth give rivers the kindness you would give any brother..”–Chief Seattle