The catastrophic California wildfires got all the press, but it’s worth paying attention to an equally intimidating but slower-moving threat: water shortages. From Georgia to Massachusetts, Florida to New York, the Great Lakes to the West, U.S. states are getting thirstier. In fact, the government predicts that at least 36 states will face challenges from inadequate water supplies within five years, thanks to a combination of rising temperatures, drought, population growth, sprawl, waste, and overuse. “Is it a crisis? If we don’t do some decent water planning, it could be,” says Jack Hoffbuhr of the American Water Works Association. Officials hope that measures such as water recycling, efficiency, and desalination will save the day. In the meanwhile, local officials are tightening their grasp on any available supplies, and debates over how to address the problem are simmering.
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