Cape Town Water Crisis and What Shortages Could Mean for the Great Lakes

National Geographic

Craig Welch

What is going to happen when people all over the world start running out of fresh water? How are we going to deal with that kind of global crisis? And what would it mean for us here in the Great Lakes region, where we have 20 percent of the world’s available surface supply right outside our door?

This might seem like some sort of dystopian concept right out of a Mad Max movie. But it’s a reality for millions of people right now.

Cape Town, South Africa is set to run out of fresh water in mid-April. The city has plans to shut off taps to four million people.

National Geographic environmental and natural resources reporter Craig Welch says “it’s just one of many cities around the world facing a future with too little water.”

Welch joins Detroit Today with Stephen Henderson to talk about Cape Town and global water supply issues.

It’s not entirely clear how much of this might be because weather is changing because of climate change and how much of it is because Cape Town, like many cities around the world, is growing exponentially,” says Welch. “But there is just far less water available. And it came on rather quickly. And I think both city and national officials were caught a little off guard.”

Noah Hall

Also joining the program is Noah Hall, Wayne State University professor of law, specializing in  environmental and water law, and founder of the Great Lakes Environmental Law Center. He talks about what these global water shortages could mean for the Great Lakes.

We are the most water-rich, water-abundant part of the world,” says Hall. “And with that wealth, I think, comes an understandable fear that there’ll be pressure — economic or political or other pressure — to share our abundance of the resource, especially as folks in other parts of the world are facing humanitarian crises.”

Click on the audio player above to hear the full conversation.

Image credit: Photo Courtesy of NASA Goddard Photo and Video

About the Author

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