I spent lots of time representing the Central Platte Natural Resource District when I practiced law. It was fascinating work for a wonderful client. This experience also honed my trial skills, and taught me much about the scientific method. I fought about water in the Platte River primarily for use by farmers. This was in opposition to the eco-nuts.
It is with this history that I recommend that you devote some time to reading about fresh water. You might start with Shane Harris, Water Wars, Foreign Policy (2014). Consider the following, which is based upon a chilling CIA assessment:
The strain of a growing world population, coupled with the effects of pollution and climate change, has taxed many of the water systems that feed the world’s people and are vital for agriculture. More than half of the world’s wetlands have disappeared, and climate change around the world has altered weather patterns and led to water shortages, experts say.
Scarcity now poses a global security threat that U.S. intelligence agencies take as seriously as the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, terrorism, and cyberattacks on critical infrastructure, according to the strategy, which was produced by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, which oversees all American intelligence agencies. And hints of a dystopian future can already be seen. In East Africa, drought has led to lethal fighting among Somali clans for access to potable water. The United Nations World Food Program has estimated that 650 million people are living in areas where flood and droughts can lead to wild spikes in food prices. Public anxiety — and fascination — has given rise to a new genre of films, “cli-fi,” with apocalyptic climate-change scenarios at the heart of their plots.
The world-wide scarcity of water will bring especially difficult legal challenges. Consider, for example, the Colorado River and disputes about it between Mexico and the US. The same is and will be true for the US and Canada regarding the Great Lakes. The drought in California pits the world’s most productive farmers against urban dwellers.
If you have an established water rights or environmental practice in the US, these problems are liable to make you fat and happy. The rest of us not so much.
*Long ago, back when the plains were being settled, a pithy saying developed about H2O: “Whiskey is for drinking, and water is for fighting.” Everything old is new again.