Charles Fishman, a prolific journalist best known for his work on Wal-Mart, has an excellent op-ed in the New York Times recounting the wastefulness of America’s fragmented water-use policy, a problem made all the more urgent by the drought that is devastating crop yields across the country. Among other things, he notes:
(1) the fact that roughly half of the 99 gallons of water consumed by the average American in the summer months goes to watering lawns, often during the sunniest part of the day;
(2) the potential of rainwater harvesting;
(3) our failure to think rigorously about balancing the water-intensity of the crops we cultivate in various regions and the water resources available;
(4) the fact that U.S. utilities “lose enough water every six days to supply the nation for a day”;
(5) and the potential of water recycling to alleviate scarcity.
The core idea tying all of the above together is that we treat water as though it has no value, but that is very far from the truth.