Friday, October 12, 2007

Drought Effects in the Southeast U.S.

Travel around the Western U.S. and you'll see why water restrictions exist in many places: it is beautiful but often arid region with low amounts of rainfall in many places.

What's interesting though is that a realization of this problem seems to be taking hold on many different levels.

Case in point: head to the luxuriously-appointed Wynn Las Vegas and, rather than finely-coifed grass, you'll find (upon very close inspection) essentially astro-turf that looks very much like a brilliant green yard. The resort's developer opted for this approach because "[c]oncerned with water conservation in the drought conditions of Nevada and anting plush green grass throughout the landscape, Steve Wynn was convinced he needed an alternative to natural grass."

Well, it now appears that these types of water problems--and responses--will become increasingly relevant to the Southern U.S. too.

In particular, this article discusses the growing water crisis in the Atlanta metro area--something which is a stark example of a region-wide problem:
The commissioner of Atlanta's Department of Watershed Management made a plea for conservation today because of the severe drought that has forced restrictions on 61 counties in north Georgia.

Robert J. Hunter called it a drought "of historic magnitude." He said everyone must come together to protect and conserve limited water resources.

The storage for Atlanta's water supply is Lake Lanier, located north of the city. Hunter said it provides water for one-third of the residents of Georgia.

He said that now there is enough water in Lanier to serve the area for 121 days.
Why is this a Daily Sprawl issue? Because sprawl development not only uses more water than compact development (as in McMansion yards require more water than others) but also requires the installation of more infrastructure (think water pipes and such) than re-using existing infrastructure or designing compact communities that require less new infrastructure.