Opinion | Watch Your Water

By: | April 4, 2024

Dan Reynolds is editor-in-chief of Risk & Insurance. He can be reached at [email protected].

“Either you bring the water to L.A. or you bring L.A. to the water.” Thus spoke the actor John Huston as the sociopathic investor Noah Cross to Jack Nicholson’s detective Jake Gittes in the classic 1974 film

Cross was explaining his scheme to divert water from California’s Owens Valley to water-thirsty Los Angeles in the early part of the 20th Century. Great line. Great movie.

But what happens when you run out of water altogether?

As a series of investigative pieces in the New York Times over the past year has pointed out, aquifers across much of the United States are being depleted to the point that commerce is threatened and access to clean water is being reduced.

A combination of rising seas due to climate change and the over-pumping of ground water is also causing the land along our coasts to sink. Boston and New York are sinking, making the possibility of another event along the lines of Superstorm Sandy more probable, according to researchers from Virginia Tech and the U.S. Geological Survey.

Atlantic City could one day become Atlantis if we’re not careful.

The question is, are we being careful enough? Some states have acted and are moving to protect their aquifers from over-pumping. But the threat depleted aquifers pose to any number of industries is staggering.

Agriculture, manufacturing, the energy sector and so many more areas of the economy are massive users of water. Not to mention our household needs and wants; forget the swimming pool.

Only a concerted effort on the part of the public and private sectors can coordinate the resources and regulation to forestall this peril. &

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