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Palmer's Water Primer
The Major Stress Factors on Water Supply/Quality

October 7, 2002

Population Distribution: there is always disequilibrium between where people settle and where water resources are located.

Water Quality Degradation: using water degrades its quality; using huge volumes of water each day requires that billions of dollars are spent on treating the water.

Drought Conditions: record droughts in NJ, GA, SC, NC, and VA on the East Coast suggest that we can no longer expect stable climate and rely on historical precipitation for future supply planning.

Aging Urban Water Infrastructure: mayors continue to seek ways to help cities raise the more than trillion dollars needed to build and refurbish the nation's surface and sub'surface water infrastructure.

Water Conservation: we are in a conservation conundrum—although per capita consumption declined 20% from 1980-1995, municipal use has increased 24% over the same period.

Environmental Allocation: diversion of water from lakes, streams and wetlands for human use must now consider the competing policy goals to protect natural resources such as wildlife, endangered species, critical habitat, etc.

Institutional Impediments: in many parts of the nation, water allocation rights are historic; many water rights pre-date population growth and distribution and may be based on high precipitation years.