We've added new content on droughts, barge traffic on the Mississippi, water reuse, agricultural water management, water demand in the tourism industry, and global trends in a water-constrained world.
A question we often hear is, “How did Milwaukee become a water-centric city?” Our devotion to the idea of Growing Blue is a tradition that’s older than any treatment facility, brewery or tannery. Milwaukee’s relationship with water dates back to the Menominee, Fox, Ojibwa and Ho-Chunk tribes who were the region’s first inhabitants. In fact, the name Milwaukee is from the Potawatomi and was originally pronounced minwaking or “gathering place by the water.” Read More
Abnormally low levels affecting U.S.A.'s main shipping waterway
The Mississippi River, which drains more than 40 percent of the United States, is near record-low levels due to the U.S. drought and is now threatening to choke off vital transportation. The Mississippi River is the country’s most important waterway where under normal conditions about $7 billion worth of commodities is shipped on the river in December and January alone. Some 55 to 65 percent of U.S. corn, soybean, and wheat shipments exit the country via the Gulf, and within the country itself products such as, petroleum, fertilizer, sand, gravel, mulch, steel, are shipped up and down its major tributaries. However, the same drought that has devastated crops throughout the Midwest has made the mighty Mississippi dangerously narrow and shallow.
For barges to travel safely along the more than 2,000 miles of the Mississippi, a minimum 9 ft depth and 100 ft width must be maintained. As these limits are reached barge tugboats and towboats have been forced to change how they move goods up and down the river. This includes new schedules and one-way traffic hours being imposed and less-than-full loads being taken on by the companies to ensure that all traffic clears the river bottom. The $180 billion barge industry slowing down will have serious economic implications.
[aside]SEE ALSO: Growing Blue® Tool: Designed to help us find solutions to our water issues now.
Along with the cost of delaying exports and loss of profits for companies transporting lighter loads, the country is facing a potential loss of up to 20,000 jobs and $130 million in lost wages. Some estimates predict closing the river to traffic could lead to losses of about $300 million a day with costs trickling down to consumers as products are moved to other modes of transportation.
The Army Corps of Engineers is currently working to ensure that the channel is navigable, and discussions are being held on whether to release more water from reservoirs along the upper rivers.
Cost of Increasing Droughts
Everyone on Earth uses water and energy every day. We use water for drinking, bathing, cooking, and producing everything from silicon chips to potato chips. We use energy for heating, cooling, transportation and any number of domestic and industrial processes. We would die without access to clean fresh water. We would be miserable without using energy from renewable and non-renewable sources. Read More