Saturday, March 2, 2013

Shocking Water Over-Use in Middle East

Nadene Goldfoot
Israel isn't guilty of overusing water like the rest of the countries, but Turkey, Syria, Iraq and Iran's water supply is being depleted faster than anywhere else on Earth except in India.  Groundwater under this Cradle of Civilization is being pumped out faster than it's being replenished.  This comes to us from new satellite measurements.  The freshwater reserves in the Tigris and Euphrates river basins are the areas affected.

Jordan is also suffering severe water scarcity and is listed as one of the 10 most water depleted countries in the world.  They are using up their ground water reserves.  Jordan gets water from the Jordan and Yarmouk Rivers which they also share with Israel and Syria.  Because of a growing population of refugees, they are using more water.  Here, people store water in rooftop tanks.  "Although the physical infrastructure exists, a lack of available water causes a rising demand of bottled and tanked water for many households."

In this area has been the cultures like Sumeria, and cities like Babylon since the dawn of history.  This is a region named after a non-Semitic people who migrated there in prehistoric times and founded a series of city-states.  Babylon, also known as the land of Shinar or of the Kasdim (Chaldees), is regarded as the cradle of humanity, where the Tower of Babel story occurred.  Abraham was born in Ur (city in today's Iraq).

These states have been blessed with an abundance of oil, which Israel wasn't.  Agriculture took place in its alluvial plain near the mouths of these 2 rivers and has sustained these cultures for at least 4 thousand years.

Between 2003 and 2010, there was a net loss of 35 cubic miles of water.  Scientists reporting these results are from NOAA, NASA and the U of California.  Roughly this is equivalent to all the water in the Dead Sea disappearing.

Water is a subject taught in Israel's junior high schools.  I took a field trip through the water company's plant to see all they do to reuse water.  It's time for the other countries to join up with Israel and other countries who also work on their water supply usage. For 70 years Israel's Mekorot's National Water Systerm has been bringing  high quality water to Israelis.  They use coastal and mountain aquifers and the Sea of Galilee.  Since rain falls only in winter in northern Israel,   irrigation and water engineering take top priority.  Sewage and flood overflow is reclaimed or reused, which is what I observed in my fieldtrip.  Desalination is also depended on.  this makes use of seawater.

Jews have been aware of the priority of water since ancient days.  "In ancient Israel, water was a precious resource. King Herod  I (73 BCE-4  BCE)  ordered his engineers to build aqueducts to transport water to Caesarea,  then the second largest city in the country after Jerusalem.   They devised a system that allowed water to flow without pumping from the springs near Mount Carmel.   Seven aqueducts were constructed at this time, vestiges of which can still be seen today.

Then 10 countries who are losing the most water are, Somalia, Mauritania, Sudan, Niger, Iraq, Uzbekistan, Pakistan, Egypt, Turkmenistan and Syria.  Jordan was included on another listing.   India, Bangladesh, China and Nepal's conditions are worsening.  Studies show that 80 countries now have water shortages.  "In the last century, the human population has increased from 1.7 billion people to 6.6 billion people, while the total amount of potable water has slightly decreased."

A danger we must face is of independant businesses buying up city water supplies.  That has also started in the USA.  They buy it up, bottle it and sell it to other countries, all the while making a profit but taking it from the community of origin.  Such water privation will surely deplete our water supply, and luckily many companies are failing.  "In Algeria, Saudi Arabia,  Columbia and Cuba,  increasing efficiency and improving service quality were important motives for water privatization. Proponents argue that public utilities may be poorly managed. This can take the form of low bill collection, high water losses (non-revenue water) of more than 50% and intermittent water supply, sometimes lasting only for a few hours a day or a few days per week.  Water means life.  Protect your supply.  We can't afford to waste it.

Resource;  Oregonian newspaper, 2/2/13 page A2 Water Improvidence

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