This story about dropping water table levels in India, apparently due to excessive groundwater pumping, just reaffirms what I think will become an increasingly obvious fact: one of the greatest attributes of the American Midwest is an abundance of water. According to the U.S. EPA, the Great Lakes hold more than one-fifth of the world’s supply of fresh water, and the only bigger source — the polar ice caps — aren’t exactly accessible. In addition to the water stored in the Great Lakes, the Midwest is home to large rivers, like the Ohio and the Father of Waters itself, the mighty Mississippi. Our winters aren’t exactly filled with brilliant blue skies, but they do feature lots of rain, and snow, and sleet, and freezing rain, and other forms of bone-chilling precipitation that cause us to cinch our overcoats tighter and mutter under our breath.
The question for the Midwest is how to maximize this resource and put it to best use. To their credit, the state governments of the eight Great Lakes states, including Ohio, have been proactive on the issue. They have entered into the Great Lakes Compact, which provides for management of the fresh water in the lakes and, for the most part, bans diversion of the waters to locations outside the Great Lakes basin. The Great Lakes States therefore have said to the world, if you want our water, you’ll need to come to the American Midwest to get it. I think people ultimately will do just that.