When Our Water Dries Up

I remember it as clear as a tall glass of water. I was on vacation in Palm Springs in the summer of 2000. It was hot, but I had plenty of water and I was lazing around a very inviting azure blue swimming pool. The landscape was hot and arid, but I had plenty of water within reach. I picked up the July Harper’s Magazine, which featured an article titled, “Running Dry.” By the second paragraph of this exceptional exposé into humankind’s dwindling supply of fresh water, I was totally unnerved and almost in a panic, while sitting in paradise. The writer Jacques Leslie cuts to the quick when he states:

“We face an unassailable fact: we are running out of freshwater. In the last century we humans have so vastly expanded our use of water to meet the needs of industry, agriculture, and a burgeoning population that now, after thousands of years in which water has been plentiful and virtually free, its scarcity threatens the supply of food, human health, and global ecosystems. “

The article goes on, in considerable detail, to outline where, in particular, we are horribly deficient, and how we are destroying our ability to maintain safe and plentiful access to clean water. The summation of the article was, in the future, we will not be fighting over oil or ideology, we will be fighting over water. Never was I the same.

Now, some 12 years into the future, a film has quietly hit the theaters threatening to enlighten the populace (as well as seriously bum them out) with its message about water conservation and the very real danger of water scarcity. The film is called Last Call at the Oasis, and reveals some of the updated particulars of the global water crisis. See the trailer below:

While I have yet to see the film, and therefore cannot endorse it, I find the subject matter to be of utmost importance. Access to clean water, for everyone on the planet, is a (if not “the”) crucial issue of the this century, as there will be some sort of reckoning around this subject to be certain. In all truth, a part of me much rather be back at that pool living in relative ignorance of our dwindling water supply, but that is an ignorance none of us could likely afford (Check out this National Geographic water footprint calculator to get a handle on your personal water usage).

How has your awareness of the global water crisis impacted how you use and/or conserve water? What do you do to save and preserve water, either on a local or global level? Are you as scared as I am?


Nona E.
Nona E4 years ago

A real crisis is impending...I believe that. I'm encouraged to read comments by those who care and stand ready to do their bit.

Terry V.
Terry V4 years ago


Richard T.
Richard T5 years ago

Thank you for article.

Abbe A.
Azaima A5 years ago

It's important.

Regina P.
Regina P5 years ago


Amanda M.
Amanda M5 years ago

Having spent the better part of the day raking up our grass clippings for vegetable garden mulch to help conserve water in the soil and cursing my neighbors who use those damned lawn services that poison the grass with weed killers and pesticides so I can't use their clippings to help mulch the garden (it would kill my crops), I agree that the US really needs to learn to conserve water! The waste I see drives me absolutely bughouse.

We already conserve like crazy, to the point where I set out buckets on the deck to catch rainwater runoff from the table so I can water the house plants with it or supplement the rain barrels (we have a hand pump that can be moved from one to another of the three barrels) that fill the watering can for outdoor use. Full loads only in the dishwasher or washing machine, turning off the water when brushing our teeth, water-saver shower heads, even saving rinse water from vegetables for watering the blueberry bushes! And we DON'T water the lawn-we let Mother Nature take care of that department. The only part of the yard that sees the sprinkler is the vegetable garden when the rain isn't cooperating, and the sprinkler is a custom-made one that my dad (who counts being a blacksmith among his hobbies) raised about four feet off the ground on a wrought-iron tripod for maximum dispersal. The berry patches get hand-watered with rain barrel water.

Michael C.
Michael C5 years ago

Heidi A, Amerika may be backwards in many ways but I'll bet you that Australia has not been able to kill so many innocent people with our many wars and our drone program in such a short period of time.
I don't know about you but I am about break out in a chorus "America Bless God." Did I get that one right. Maybe it should be ...Bring down the drones, there ought not to be drones...bring down the drones.

Might I suggest a book, When the Rivers Run Dry; Water-The Defining Crisis of the Twenty-First Century by Fred Pearce.

I will wager that if you pick it up, you will not want to put it down and then it will be time for each of you to begin a journey of personal action.

Carol Ann O.
Carol Ann O5 years ago

What will happen to oil prices then? OMG!

KS Goh
KS Goh5 years ago

Thanks for the article.

Jax L.

Thank you. 'Water, water, everywhere, but not a drop to drink'. How apt.