Water: The Yemenis, Now; the American Southwest, Later?

Thursday, April 8, 2010

REUTERS, February 17, 2010

Yemeni water trader Mohammed al-Tawwa runs his diesel pumps day and night, but gets less and less from his well in Sanaa, which experts say could become the world’s first capital city to run dry.

yemenis "My well is now 400 meters (1,300 feet) deep and I don’t think I can drill any deeper here," said Tawwa, pointing to the meager flow into tanks that supply water trucks and companies.

From dawn, dozens of people with yellow jerri cans collect water from a special canister Tawwa has set aside for the poor.

"Sometimes we don’t have any water for a whole week, sometimes for two days and then it stops again," said Talal al-Bahr, who comes almost daily to supply his family of six.

The West frets that al Qaeda will exploit instability in Yemen to prepare new attacks like the failed December 25 bombing of a U.S. airliner, but this impoverished Arabian peninsula country faces a catastrophe that poses a far deadlier long-term threat.

Nature cannot recharge ground water to keep pace with demand from a population of 23 million expected to double in 20 years.

More water is consumed than produced from most of Yemen’s 21 aquifers, especially in the highlands, home to big cities like Sanaa, with a fast-growing population of two million, and Taiz.

"If we continue like this, Sanaa will be a ghost city in 20 years," said Anwer Sahooly, a water expert at German development agency GTZ, which runs several water projects in Yemen. [Read rest of story]

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Water: Our Most Precious Resource: by Marc Devilliers. This highly readable report on the looming global water crisis is amazingly informative on water issues around the world from China to Texas.