Omaha Public Radio News
1:24 pm
Thu October 7, 2010

University of Arizona professor says U.S. is facing a water crisis

Omaha, NE – A University of Arizona law professor says the U.S. is in the midst of a water crisis.

Robert Glennon spoke Wednesday at Creighton University. He's the author of a book called "Unquenchable: America's Water Crisis and What to Do About It." Glennon says a U.S. population of 310 million people, along with few rules on conservation, mean some states are running dangerously short on water.

Glennon says national energy policy doesn't account for the amount of water needed to produce electricity and fuel. For example, it takes four gallons of water to refine one gallon of ethanol. "So a 50 million gallon plant requires 200 million gallons of water for the refinery process," Glennon says. "But first you have to grow the corn. Now that isn't too bad if you are where we are or any parts further east. But the moment you go west of where we are, all of a sudden you have to be irrigating, you cannot dry land farm."

Glennon says a "portfolio" of options are needed to solve the water crisis. He says water reclamation and desalination, which removes salt from water, are viable but expensive options. To live sustainably, Glennon says, people must conserve water, and communities must consider charging residents for actual water use.

Glennon says cities and towns should explore ways to get rid of human waste that require less water