Even with the water level in the Great Lakes having sunk to new lows, the lakes hold 18% of the world's freshwater. That means drought-prone regions in the United States are eyeing the lakes as their future water source, even as the communities surrounding the lakes set up policies to keep their water.
The historic drought in the Southeast, and chronic water shortages in the desert Southwest have prompted some politicians to eye the Great Lakes as a national water source, prompting local officials to dig in their heals. The Detroit News warned of an impending "water war." Meanwhile, studies have predicted the water level of some lakes could drop by as much as seven feet in the coming years, due to global warming, according to the Toledo Blade.
The Great Lakes Compact would regulate water use more strictly to protect the future of this water supply, but two years after the governors of eight Great Lakes states and two Canadian provinces signed the compact, it is still awaiting approval by most legislatures and Congress, according to The Christian Science Monitor.
Virtually every long-range projection of environmental conditions in the future predicts looming freshwater shortages around the world. Here in the U.S., global warming could replicate the drought afflicting the Southeast, and starve the entire southern half of the country of water for years on end.
Great Lakes states argue that population growth and business development should happen where there's water enough to sustain it, rather than where the sun is warmest, in the Southwest, the fastest growing part of the U.S. The demographic shifts in the U.S., the Monitor points out, will only serve to exacerbate competition for the vast reserves of freshwater locked up in those lakes.
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