Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Big Sign that the Water Crunch is Real: Three NYT Stories in Three Days

NEW YORK, Oct. 23 — In a sign that some will argue is a key indicator that the water crisis facing the United States — from Oswego, N.Y., to Atlanta, to the parched western states, The New York Times has, in the past three days, run three major stories on different aspects of the problem.

Sunday the Times Magazine had this story, "The Future Is Drying Up," on the remarkable water shortages in the west, including a striking image of Lake Mead, behind the Hoover Dam, showing the recently exposed, bleached white 100-foot high section of vertical shoreline left exposed by receding waters.

Monday, the Metro Section reported from Oswego on a three-inch drop in Lake Ontario's water level in October alone, in this story, "Inch by Inch, Great Lakes Shrink, And Cargo Carriers Face Losses."

Today, on the front page, the Times reports in "New to Being Dry, the South Struggles to Adapt" from Atlanta on the seemingly most urgent aspect of the crisis, in the southeast, where the reserves in Atlanta's main source of water, Lake Lanier, "could reach the bottom of its storage reserves in about four months." More troublesome, the state, residents, and visitors alike are only now thinking about how to address the problem.

Case in point: my girlfriend visited Atlanta this weekend. As I pondered the water issue with my mother while I was in Rochester (which, incidentally, my mom thinks is poised for a renaissance resulting from the water crisis, and which I tend to think is correct, but more on that another time), I sent my girlfriend a text message asking, "Are you thirsty yet?"

She called back confused, but she did then confirm that she'd had to ask for water at breakfast out Saturday morning, instead of it just showing up with the silverware.

The Times has a great section on its Web site cataloging its water reporting, here. Check it out, and then, ponder some ways to save some. How about this one to start: will NYC Council Member please introduce a bill that bans sidewalk spraying as a cleaning method, or at least limits the frequency?

"Seinfeld" fans may remember the idea from an episode that first aired Dec. 14, 1995, "The Gum," in which Elaine, blouse open as she walks down the sidewalk, has to tread carefully past a florist shop where the owner is hosing down the sidewalk in front. From the script:
A cop stands a little further down the street. Elaine approaches him.

ELAINE: Officer. Officer, is there some reason this man has to always be using a hose? I mean, he's flooding the sidewalk. It's a waste of water. Couldn't he just use a broom?

The cop stares at Elaine's breasts the whole time she's talking.

COP: Lady, you sold me. (strides toward florist) Hey, you with the hose.

Elaine looks confused about his attitude. She glances down, and notices her blouse wide open. She quickly pulls her coat closed, to hide her embarrassment, and hurries away.

Well, Elaine solved the problem with some cleavage, at least until later in the episode, when the hose returns, but maybe the City Council could now consider a more comprehensive approach.

What would you do to save some water?

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