In the past few years my wife and I have been fortunate enough to travel the West on vacation. Our trip usually begins with a flight to San Francisco. We do not travel by plane often so we both anxiously take turns looking out the window. Besides the Rocky Mountains, the first things you can make out are the large, green crop circles in the middle of brown barren land. These crops are green, because they are watered by irrigation machines traveling in a huge circle. Water is life everywhere and especially out West. We, West Virginians, take for granted our abundance of water and our lives are surrounded by green. In the West, massive dams built in the past have supplied farmland and cities with much needed water. Hoover Dam, one of the largest, has concrete draining collecting towers that sit in the lake and cycle water through the dam for hydro-electric power. These towers are stained by past high water marks. I asked a guide “if these stains are made during the spring thaw?” His answer was “those marks were made many years ago and most likely the water level would never be that high again because the water is being used as fast as it comes in”. Many areas of the West have water rights that are purchased, sold, and inherited. So many people depend on the winter snow melt to resupply their lakes and rivers. We are truly lucky here in West Virginia to enjoy our abundance of clean water.
The WV Conservation Agency and the Tygart Valley Soil District work constantly to protect our water. Challenges like Ag run-off, erosion, salt build-up, industry pollution, acid rain, untreated sewage, stream reclamation, wetland reduction and ground water depletion are real problems today and for the future. These problems will continue to grow as our population continues to grow.
We all must make efforts to conserve and to protect our most valuable natural resource. Growing up fifty years ago, most would have laughed at the idea of bottled water. Who would pay for water out of a bottle when they could drink in most cases water out of a tap for 1/10,000th of the price? The future is now and the challenges are real.