Originally published July 19 2014
NBC News declares 'billions could starve' as America's water aquifers run dry
by L.J. Devon, Staff Writer
(NaturalNews) In America, a crisis is unfolding right under the public's feet. Water scarcity is beginning to creep into the Texas panhandle and the breadbasket region of the United States. A valuable aquifer that once provided water security is drying up beneath farmers' feet as drought-like conditions linger.
"This country became what it became largely because we had water security," says Venki Uddameri, Ph.D., director of the Water Resources Center at Texas Tech. "That's being threatened to a large degree now."
The vital Ogallala Aquifer is drying up, putting billions of people at riskThe Ogallala Aquifer, sprawled out beneath eight states in the heart of the US, is being depleted with mathematical certainty. Spanning 111.8 million acres and 175,000 square miles, this vital aquifer feeds the sophisticated agricultural region from South Dakota through Nebraska and Kansas to the Texas panhandle.
As NBC News recently declared, "If the American Breadbasket cannot help supply ever-growing food demands, billions could starve."
"The depletion of the Ogallala is an internationally important crisis," said Burke Griggs, Ph.D., consulting professor at Stanford University, stating how populations around the world rely on the agricultural production of the breadbasket region of the US. "How individual states manage the depletion of that aquifer will obviously have international consequences."
Parts of the aquifer have already dried up and receded. A farmer in the Texas panhandle named Lucas Spinhirne attests to this. Just a decade ago, water flowed boundlessly under his farmland. By 2011, that water had all been pumped out, leaving Spinhirne only one source of water for his wheat and sorghum crops -- the rainwater from the sky.
"We try to catch anything that falls," Spinhirne said.
The Ogallala aquifer has been used up at an unsustainable pace since the early 1980s when big agriculture began using automated center pivot irrigation devices. Once farmers started putting these devices into widespread use, the Ogallala became a center for abuse, precipitously drained year after year. The Ogallala is unique; it cannot be replenished by surface water or precipitation. When it's used up, there's no more water to go around.
Water profiteering, irresponsible use, and lack of foresight bringing Texas farmers to their kneesInstead of using the water responsibly, some landowners have envisioned lucrative business opportunities through the years. Billionaire oil tycoon T. Boone Pickens, who owns 211,000 acres near the Texas-Oklahoma border, sold his water rights for $103 million to the strapped cities of Lubbock and Amarillo.
T. Boone Pickens now enables hydraulic fracking operations on his 68,000-acre Mesa Vista Ranch. Fracking works by pumping chemicals and water into the ground in order to extract natural gas and oil.
The High Plains Water District, which includes 16 Texas counties, has no water use restrictions. Farmers have irrigated here for years irresponsibly, haphazardly, sucking the Ogallala dry without metering their wells. New restrictions are now in motion that will limit farmers to irrigate no more than 18 inches per year.
How humanity will survive the water crisis - aquaponicsAs populations become increasingly dependent on large-scale agricultural methods, entire cities are capable of falling into a food crisis. The price of food has risen drastically in the last decade, compounded by the declining value of the dollar, but as water becomes scarcer with more aquifers running dry, the price of food is bound to spike even more rapidly in the next decade and into the foreseeable future.
If the American people are going to survive the water shortage crisis, then they will have to set greed aside and start using smarter agricultural methods which should definitely include aquaponic farming -- a fusion of raising fish and crops using no soil and minimal, recyclable water.
In this method, the microbes from the fish waste are used as the fertilizer for the vegetables, fruits and herbs. The water is recycled through the aquaponics system. This method uses up to 90 percent less water than conventional gardening and farming methods!
Not only that, but the crops produced grow two to three times faster than soil grown crops. Pesticides are not needed. Neither is weed pulling. The fish can grow in a controlled, clean environment without accumulating mercury. They provide a sustainable source of protein alongside the nutritious crops.
As aquifers dry up, this method of farming and personal food production will gain in popularity, allowing for maximized food production, efficient use of space, cleaner foods and amazing water savings!
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