U.S. Water News Online
GRAND FORKS, N.D. -- A three-year-long study of past
climate cycles points to a significant drought in the coming years,
according to a study released by the Energy and Environmental
Research Center, which is based in North Dakota.
Center director Gerald Groenewold said the drought's economic
impact will be magnified if water management strategies are not
implemented. It could even jeopardize the sustainability of living
conditions in the area, he said.
"The public and decision-makers need to recognize the magnitude,
severity, and urgency of this issue," said Groenewold, of Grand
Forks, N.D. "Our greatest challenge is to admit we have a problem."
The study looked at lake bottom sediments in North Dakota and
western Minnesota but the findings apply to Nebraska and other
states, he said.
Efforts to deal with limited water resources have been in the
works for years, said David Aiken, a natural resources water law
specialist at the University of Nebraska. These efforts will require
a transition for water users, and will be greatly felt by farmers who
irrigate, Aiken said. They can farm at normal levels with less water,
If local laws are not developed, federal mandates will be, Aiken
said. He envisions water becoming a top commodity in the next few
years, with water rights being bought and sold.
"Well start to see what water is worth in the marketplace," Aiken
Aiken said fights for water will become simpler as water becomes
more of a commodity, which Groenewold referred to as the "petroleum
of the 21st century."
Groups ranging from communities who want a water basin to
environmental groups who want to protect endangered species could
compete to purchase water, he said.
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