America is at war with itself over water

The US has started fighting water wars using a very American weapon: lawyers. Expect to see more disputes between states - and between the US and its nearest neighbours.

When I discussed water wars there was one country I did not mention that's the US.

While I am not expecting armed conflict in the country just yet, it has started fighting water wars already using a very American weapon lawyers

I mentioned a couple of weeks ago the dispute between Georgia and Tennessee over the border at Lookout Mountain. This fight is for access to watercourses around the Tennessee River that would allow Georgia to quench the thirst of the baking city of Atlanta but Tennessee wants the water rights to itself. This dispute over the borders is expected to go all the way to the Supreme Court and it is probably the first of many.

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Then there are the Native Americans

Native American tribes stake their claim

Tribes in the west have their rights enshrined in law In 1908, the Supreme Court gave tribes the primary rights to streams on their reservations. Not all tribes had taken up these rights; 19 in total in the US west did not. However, they are now starting to take their legal water rights very seriously indeed

An article in USA Today this week claimed that tribes in Montana, New Mexico, Idaho, Nevada and California were on the verge of securing their claims. The result: non-Indian agricultural producers are expected to have less water for their crops or to have to pay more for it to the Native Americans.

This will be a fierce battle. David Gover, an attorney for the Native American Rights Fund in Colorado, has even said publicly that the diversion of Indian waters by non-Indians was 'a direct attack on their resources.'

Bob Sill, who grows barley for Anheuser-Busch beers in Montana, said that growers are worried that the allocation sought by the local Blackfeet Tribe would reduce the value of their 80,000 acres of irrigated land it will also increase the cost of their crops margin will be squeezed and their goods will ultimately cost more.

But isn't all this just down to the weather If they get more rain next year won't it go away..?

Well, no actually

John Abatzoglou of the Western Regional Climate Center in Reno believes that rain in the US southwest was expected to fall 10%-20% by 2050 and food demand will rise because of population issues

By 2050, the US population is projected to increase by 47% from 296 million in 2005 to 438 million. The majority of this boost will be caused by immigration, as it will in the UK. All these people will need water and food

And then there's Mexico

The US turns up the heat on Canada and Mexico

The Rio Grande River delineates the border between the two countries which have been in dispute for decades over water. The latest action involves South Texan farmers, who are taking the country of Mexico to court in Canada. It's all to do with a historical dispute of water rights from the 1990s.

A private group of USbased water rights holders is using the North American Free Trade Agreement to challenge the long-term practice by Mexican farmers to divert water from the Rio Grande before it reaches the US.

And then there's Canada

In 2006, for the first time since 1817 US ships on the Great Lakes were armed with machine guns. While the reason cited for this is security water rights are likely to play a factor too.

A joint commission set up to oversee these waters was bypassed by the governors of the American states bordering the Great Lakes, who passed an amendment to the treaty governing the lakes that allows for water diversions to new communities off the basin on the American side. Canadian protests fell on deaf ears in Washington. They are at war with Canada on the issue, but there has been no gunfire yet. Well, apart from a number of gun tests where thousands of rounds were fired into the lake.

These waters have always been considered joint US-Canada waters It appears that the American government has other ideas.

Water wars have hardly started yet but expect more and more events as the population grows. The South Western part of the US is suffering significant water stress. This is just going to get worse.

This article is taken from Garry White's free daily email Garry Writes'.