How to Win the War on Water

With Cameron Heyder

The next battle for resources will be over water.

A warming planet, and rising oceans are not the only consequences of climate change. As we are taught in classes on climate change, the shifting weather patterns over the next century may lead to more droughts and changes in the water table. Since we centralize our cities based on access to clean waterways, these changes in patterns may be detrimental in the coming years if we are not prepared.

Cameron sees opportunity in this upcoming dilemma. As a fellow sustainability major and entrepreneur, he hopes to make a lasting improvement on how we consume water.

As a Washington DC native, he knows all too well about the expensive cost of water within the city limits.

“It’s more of an issue of poverty than it is an issue of ecology for DC. We have some of the most poor people in the country living within the city limits, and the way we go about using water can get really expensive. Sure, if you have money it isn’t an issue. Most people in DC don’t have that luxury, and are stuck with exorbitant water bills. I only see it getting worse in the future.” — Cameron
Cameron with other Sustainability majors at a protest advocating for climate change

Cameron is trying to come up with a better system that is inexpensive to help monitor water intake, so people are saving money and not wasting as much.

We also learned about the ever increasing conflict in the Western States regarding water rights. Basically, water treaties established during the turn of the century were based on dividing the flow of the Colorado river to several states and Mexico during a period of extreme water surplus.

If you check out this nifty graph, you will see over the course of 600 years, water flow averages were calculated to determine differentiations from the mean (how abnormal a year is based on water flow), based on prairie records from southern Canada.

Prairie Provinces (Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba Canada) Drought Frequency and Severity — 1402 to 2002. the Prairie Adaptation Research Collaborative at the University of Regina

The yellow arrow points to the year that the Colorado River Compact was signed into law (1922). This law was the foundational legislature for dividing water rights among the states… except it wasn’t based on percentage. It was based on a fixed number of water units that we will rarely ever see again.

While legislation continued to evolve since the compact was signed, we are still seeing a dramatic decrease in the amount of available fresh water for west coast states. Especially since California grows over half of all fruit and vegetables for the entire country. Only 10% of water consumption goes to urban, or domestic consumption. However, 10% is still a very large share.

This is where Cameron thinks he can make a lasting impact. Also donning an interest in the business program at Chatham, Cameron wants to put his focus into starting sustainable businesses after graduation.

Currently he is working on several projects with friends at Chatham, and back home to determine the best way to monitor and save wasted water on a large and small scale. We talk a lot about his projects and hope for the future during our video interview:

Sustainability is more than just the ecology and the economy. It also vitally involves social justice reform. Cameron hopes that more than the environment can be spared with his businesses. He plans on bringing help and water security to people who need it.

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