Bad (and weird) things happen when we run out of water. We’ve discussed myriad drought impacts since June, but here are more.
Wells dry up.
From the New York Times:
For some residents outside municipal water districts [in the Midwest], it has become a struggle to wash dishes, or fill a coffee urn, even to flush the toilet. Mike Kraus, a cattle farmer in Garden City, Kan., twisted the tap on the shower the other day after work and heard nothing but hissing.
“And that was it,” he said.
While there are no national statistics on the rate at which residential wells are drying, drilling companies and officials in states across the Midwest have said that hundreds of people who rely on wells have complained of their pipes emitting water that goes from milky to spotty to nothing. An estimated 13.2 million households nationwide use private wells.
We noted the depletion of wells around St. Louis two weeks ago. The problem has now spread significantly.
In the past two weeks, CLT Well Service in southwest Kansas has gotten four calls for residential wells that had gone completely dry, said Clint Tyler, the owner. Usually, they get about one such call a year, he said.
“It’s just crazy right now,” Mr. Tyler said. “We’ve never been this far behind.”
It’s not only people who suffer when wells run dry; farm animals do too. Some farmers are having to pay for water to be trucked to pastures for their livestock.
Things catch on fire.
It’s part of their series, “Megafires: The New Normal in the Southwest.” Part of the problem, they note, is the trend away from doing controlled burns, now that more people live near forest land. Combine a large amount of kindling with exceptionally dry conditions, and you get the worst fire season in history.
People find sunken fast food restaurants.
Earlier this month, while inspecting Saint Louis Harbor, Lynn Muench pointed to an abandoned hulk rising out of the parched Mississippi River and asked, “What the heck is that? It almost looks like a Burger King.” Turns out she was right: Twenty years ago, the sunken barge was a Burger King restaurant that was tied up near the Saint Louis Arch. It broke loose and sank during the flood of 1993. It disappeared under the water until this month, when the Mississippi hit near all-time lows.
There’s a lot of formerly submerged stuff poking out of the water these days, as the Mighty Mississippi increasingly takes on the characteristics of a lazy tubing venue. Just south of downtown Saint Louis is an old Navy mine sweeper. “We all knew it was there, but no one’s seen it since 1988,” says one old-timer. The summer of 1988 is the benchmark of bad droughts. “If things don’t change soon, we may get there again,” says Muench of The American Waterways Operators, the trade association for the U.S. tugboat, towboat and barge industry.
It’s unclear whether the barge contains either a working soda fountain or a fire extinguisher. If so, maybe this whole thing is a wash.