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STATE OF THE SECTOR//WATER/WASTEWATER Photo courtesy of Island Press Design-Builders: Dr. Glennon Wants You! INTERVIEWED FOLLOWING HIS OPENING KEYNOTE ADDRESS AT THE 2011 DESIGN-BUILD FOR WATER/ WASTEWATER CONFERENCE, THE AUTHOR OF “UNQUENCHABLE” EXPLAINS HOW DESIGN-BUILD CAN HELP THE NATION AVOID CATASTROPHIC WATER SHORTAGES. The author spoke about the water crisis a DBIA’s Water/Wastewater conference in Kansas City in 2011. TRUTH IS STRANGER than fiction and that point that was driven home in March when Robert Glennon, the University of Arizona’s Morris K. Udall Professor of Law and Public Policy, addressed attendees at DBIA’s Water/Wastewater conference in Kansas City. His presentation was filled with anecdotes from across the country illustrating that, when it comes to water, we are a nation in denial about the strain we place on this limited natural resource. An historian and an attorney, Glennon is an academic, but his latest book, “Unquenchable: America’s Water Crisis and What To Do About It” (Island Press, 2009), is hardly typical ivory tower fare. Glennon is a good storyteller and his tales of America’s troubled relationship with water held the audience’s interest even as the stories, at times, border on the surreal. Consider these examples from the state of Georgia, which experienced a significant drought in 2007 that brought the city of Atlanta within months of running out of water. The reasons behind Georgia’s drought are many (not all of them were related to lack of rain). Glennon makes clear that the 2007 drought did not differ markedly from previous droughts. What had changed? Significant growth in population, agriculture and industry over the last 50 years pushed what is an essentially water-rich region beyond capacity. What makes Georgia an example for Glennon is the state’s failure to wrap its collective mind and political will around the crises. Other than banning nonessential outdoor watering and imposing a 10 percent cut in water use by North Georgia businesses and utilities, public officials responded by: • Passing a resolution claiming that an 1818 survey failed to accurately place the border between Tennessee and Georgia near a bend in the Tennessee River. • Blaming the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for releasing too much water from Lake Lanier in order to protect endangered species downstream. • Requesting divine intervention. • Lifting most major restrictions after rain, and a 15 percent drop in water use, despite the fact that Lake Lanier, Metro Atlanta’s main source of water, remained 13 feet below normal levels. All this and allowing a theme park to create snow in the middle of a dry Georgia summer? Priceless. The state continued to issue new water permits and did not begin to require permitting for ground water wells or diversions from rivers. Even today, as long as use remains under 100,000 gallons a day, no permitting is required. By Susan Hines dbia.org summer//2011 23 http://www.dbia.org

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of IQ Summer 2011: The Federal Issue

IQ Summer 2011: The Federal Issue

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