Home Opinion Water, Water, Nowhere (Revisited)

Water, Water, Nowhere (Revisited)


Here at EDM Digest, we discuss issues that impact emergency and disaster management. These include those that directly impact the practitioner, that impact local and state government, and that impact our society and civilization as a whole.

We've been at it for awhile now. One of the things that I think we've all learned in this process is that EDM has a few basic recurring themes. We talk about specific events in the news and how to interpret them; we talk about understanding EDM roles and responsibilities; we talk about quality governance; we talk about climate change; we talk about renewable and non-renewable resources; and we talk about the challenges of providing ethical public service. Among others, of course. But we always seem to return to these few, because they're the ones most important to society and the profession, the ones most difficult to solve, and the ones that just won't go away.

So in this next series, which I'll just call 'revisited', I'm going to pull forward some of our early work that may be still relevant and provide updates as appropriate. I'll begin with water management. Here's my first take: Water, Water, Nowhere

Revisited: Water, Water, Nowhere

In this post, we discuss water management, and how decisions that are made at the time may have appeared to be good ideas, but because they were made with incomplete information, turned a manageable issue (how to draw enough water to support development) into an unmanageable issue (what to do with your city in the desert when the reservoir runs dry).

Revisiting the issue, what jumps out is complementary or cascading effects. In other words, risks can tend to swarm--bad water management coupled with drought coupled with poor farming practices coupled with political ineptness creates a dust bowl--first striking the Midwest in the 1930s, recurring now to an extent, and occasionally striking Phoenix and other desert cities.

The current news that may have some cause-and-effect relationship with this issue would be the wildfire that has forced the evacuation of the town of Fort McMurray in Canada. Did the region suffer from poor water management? Poor forest management practices? Political ineptness? Because the issue is so new -- the wildfire is projected to double in size again in the coming days -- we haven't gotten to those issues. But we will.

So as emergency managers, public servants, and political leaders, have a look at your own water management. There's really nothing so harmful to the public, and your career for that matter, as you being tagged with the label of being 'inept' -- so don't be.

Randall Cuthbert Dr. Randall Cuthbert is a retired APUS Professor of Emergency & Disaster Management. He has also worked as a Red Cross Shelter Supervisor, and spent a 20-year career as a US Air Force Civil Engineer Officer. His blogging interests include: protecting & enhancing the EDM profession in the areas of integrity, honorable public service, and social justice; education regarding the 'big picture' role of EDM in our society; educating our professionals and neighbors with regard to the greatest threat to our civilization--climate change; and in general terms, creating a better world for our children and grandchildren.