I’ve been using Texas and the drought of 2011 as an argument for optimism about US water management:
I’d argue the Texas experience shows that, when communities are really up against it, they’ve demonstrated the ability to do a far better job at managing scarce water.
But there’s a huge hole in my argument. What if communities that are “really up against it” simply delay the inevitability of their water problems by overpumping aquifers?
Water levels are falling rapidly in the Edwards Aquifer in San Antonio, the primary source of water for municipal users in the region. In just two weeks, the levels have dropped 5 feet, and are projected to drop further. Victor Murphy, the Climate Program Manager for the National Weather Service Southern Region, says there’s even more cause for concern than last year.
There’s a good article about, in part, the midwestern acquifers:
“Broken Heartland: The Looming Collapse of Agriculture on the Great Plain,” Wil S. Hylton, Harper’s July 2012.
I’ll send you a copy.