Wednesday, August 30, 2023

Worldwide water stresses


Another week, another episode of Adirondack flooding, this time on the Adirondack Coast, where  flooding caused by heavy rains closed Route 22 in Westport, as well as several roads in Moriah and Schroon. The flood also overwhelmed a wastewater system in Port Henry.

But worldwide the situation is very different. According to the World Resources Institute, 25 countries with a quarter of the world’s population are facing perilous water shortages.

The institute says these nations “face extremely high water stress each year, regularly using up almost their entire available water supply. And at least 50% of the world’s population — around 4 billion people — live under highly water-stressed conditions for at least one month of the year.”

The water stress is driven by both surging demand and less reliable supply. Since 1960 demand for water has doubled around the world, while climate change and poor water-management policies, including a failure to invest in infrastructure or adopt sound management policies.

The Middle East and North Africa are most at risk, followed by South Asia. But water stress in these regions can have worldwide effects, due to the potential impacts on global food supply and GDP.

Wealthier nations are faring better, because they have invested more, while their populations are plateauing. The United States has a medium-high risk (40% to 60%) chance of future stress, the institute projects.


A photo of the Marina in May taken during a recent Adirondack Park Agency staff site visit. Screenshot from APA variance presentation

Ongoing marina battle

Legal battles over improvements to LS Marina on Lower Saranac Lake have continued apace, after two green groups filed suits against the Adirondack Park Agency’s handling of its own wetlands policies.

The Explorer’s Gwendolyn Craig reports that the suits come against the backdrop of changes in the APA’s legal team.

Adirondack Wild and Protect the Adirondacks independently sued the APA after it granted a variance to the marina that would allow the marina to upgrade and expand its aging boat slips.

The project has been in and out of court for 10 years, as opponents have objected to the absence of permitting and failure of the state to study the amount of boat traffic the lakes can handle.

In March the courts dressed down the agency for skirting its own rules, which set a high bar for projects affecting wetlands. The marina subsequently reworked its proposal, which the APA agreed to in June.

“Rather than review the project against the value one wetlands criteria, the APA staff and the applicant colluded during secret meetings to devise a strategy to conduct an end-run around the decision.  The APA failed to uphold its statutory duty to protect the natural resources of the Adirondack Park,” said Peter Bauer, Executive Director of Protect the Adirondacks.

Dave Gibson, managing partner of Adirondack Wild, said that ignoring wetlands law in this instance would open the door to eroded protections at other sites in the future.

“In this case the agency shrugged at its lawful duties, regulatory responsibilities, and the Appellate Court’s decision,” Gibson said. “That legal carelessness cannot be tolerated or other wetlands elsewhere in the Park will be at immediate risk. We take this action as a last resort and only because the APA’s arbitrary, unlawful actions harmful to Park wetlands compel us to do so.”

The APA and marina were withholding comment while they reviewed the cases.

Eagle Lake residents push back on boat launch closure

Residents of Eagle Lake continue to fight what appears to be a losing battle to keep their state boat launch, which is scheduled to close to trailered boats at the end of next year.

Property owners are persevering, writing to multiple state officials and successfully winning resolutions against closure from the Ticonderoga Town Board and the Essex County Board of Supervisors.

Residents fear the closure will cut off emergency response to camps on the far side of the lake that do not have road access, and are unfair to older property owners used to accessing the lake from the launch.

But it appears the effort won’t be enough. The APA, noting that the launch violates the state master plan, which doesn’t permit launches on smaller lakes, said the closure remains on schedule, although a gate will be provided to emergency responders and people of limited mobility will be accommodated.

Photo at top: Long Lake flooding from July. 

This first appeared in the Explorer’s “Water Line” newsletter. Click here to sign up.

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Tim Rowland is a humor columnist for Herald-Mail Media in Hagerstown, Md., and a New York Times bestselling author. His books include High Peaks; A History of Hiking the Adirondacks from Noah to Neoprene and Strange and Unusual Stories of New York City. He has climbed the 46 high peaks, is an avid bicyclist, and trout tremble with fear when they see his approaching shadow. He and his wife Beth are residents of Jay, N.Y.


12 Responses

  1. Charlie Stehlin says:

    “25 countries with a quarter of the world’s population are facing perilous water shortages… least 50% of the world’s population — around 4 billion people — live under highly water-stressed conditions for at least one month of the year…..climate change and poor water-management policies…………”

    Yes, and there are still political wonks, almost wholly from that one radical camp, who continue to deny there’s a problem!

    • Paul says:

      This is the typical American political response these days and why the country is so divided. No one can have a discussion without someone immediately turning it into a political rant..

      I don’t think there are too many politicians of any ilk that deny that there are droughts in certain parts of the world.

      • Dana says:

        Is that what you think Charlie is saying? Politicians are denying droughts?

        • Paul says:

          This story is specifically about water shortages. People using too much water and living in places there isn’t enough for all the people (Think LA). He just jumps on the usual political stuff that isn’t really relative to this story. It just bothers me that so many people don’t want to have a discussion but prefer to do things like that.

        • JohnL says:

          That’s exactly what he’s saying Dana. What part of ‘Yes, and there are still political wonks, ALMOST WHOLLY FROM THAT ONE RADICAL CAMP, who continue to deny there’s a problem’ didn’t you see?

    • Susan says:

      There always has been, since the beginning of civilization.

  2. louis curth says:

    “Worldwide Water stresses” reminds me of those good news/ bad news stories.

    THE GOOD NEWS is that there are concerned writers like Tim Rowland and thoughtful commenters like Charlie Stehlin who continue to provide Almanack readers with fact-based articles and thoughtful personal observations. Their efforts lay bare the misconceptions, half truths, and outright lies being amplified all over our social media for partisan political purposes. And let us also not forget Melissa, the Almanack’s own marshal from Dodge, who maintains law and order over any verbal outlaws when they go too far with their snide remarks.

    THE BAD NEWS is that an Adirondack regional “community” capable of being a model for how all of us can work together to protect our democracy and restore bipartisan governance is not ripening into edible fruit. Sadly, the rich and powerful among us continue to use their dark money to buy the votes of too many politicians from both parties. In far too many local districts, one-party politics still rules our elections, and voters have no real choices. Gerrymandered districts and special interest money determine who the winner will be, and voters see this hypocrisy and simply give up trying.

    Meanwhile the discussion of water stresses, air stresses, land stresses and the ultimate fate of our future generations hangs in the balance…

    • Paul says:

      What are you talking about? The “one party” thing used to be the norm in places like Saranac Lake, now they have a very diverse political community. It’s a model..

      • JohnL says:

        New York State has a Democratic trifecta and a Democratic triplex. The Democratic Party controls the offices of governor, secretary of state, attorney general, and both chambers of the state legislature. If you have ANY political ‘beef’ with New York, you know who to go to to get it addressed. Not being partisan, just tellin’ the truth.

  3. Charlie Stehlin says:

    Paul says: “This is the typical American political response these days and why the country is so divided.”

    No Paul, we’re divided because of values….what one sees as great value, another pays it no mind. We’re divided because wonks lie,  because false or misleading representations are being cast out continually from said wonks to those who, like fish… swallow the bait. Yes, I do come off political, but I cannot deny the superego within which constantly nags at every little annoyance. I have a conscience in other words!

    You say: “I don’t think there are too many politicians of any ilk that deny that there are droughts in certain parts of the world.”

    They’re out there Paul, and there’s more than just a few gross-lots of them seemingly! One mere per example……there was Scott Perry, Republican of Pennsylvania who, in July, showed charts (to a timid, defenseless audience) which he claimed proved “the world is not warming.” Tell that to half a thousand scientists who claim otherwise! It’s in ‘their’ DNA Paul they cannot help the disavowal which reeks from within…..all the while claiming to be ‘true Christians’ whatever that means. It means our forefathers were smart when they said “Separation of Church and State.” In the meanwhile there are consequences from the false rhetoric which they continually spew! That’s political!    “I didn’t send that mob to the Capital on the 6th, this is a political witch hunt! I’m innocent…. ” That’s political and it’s narcissism too!  And like fish…..the audience swallows the bait, as if million-lots have poor eyesight and inferior hearing.

    With me it’s not political as much as it is reality Paul! It’s both I suppose, and how can it not be when every little item which comes up is turned into political football by that one camp who are bent on division which is as clear as day to see and hear! We may disagree on matters which is fine, but when reality is over-shadowed by mendacity, and at regular intervals, and when you have large portions of society taking it all in as gospel….. we have a problem! ‘Reason’ is another item falling to the wayside anymore.

    Just a few days ago the ‘conservative’ majority Supreme Court ruled that more than half the wetlands in this country no longer have federal protections under the EPA. This is very sad news to me and others who really do give a damn about such things! Some of us like frogs and fish and all of the unseen critters, and other, that depend on wetlands. Wetlands are more important than what those conservative Supreme Court justices will ever realize. They see black & white only! It’s wrong! We should all be concerned about this ruling, but we don’t all have the same values is why we’re not, is why we’ll continue to erect them on their podiums!

    We’re going backwards like we always do whenever it is Tories reign supreme. That sounds political sure, but it’s the gosh-darned truth! The history is there! The only reason they get away with this is because they have ultra-loud voices behind them, aka constituents, whom they put their confidence in come ‘erection’ day, the ones who vote them in, who evidently have priorities unlike mine and many others who really do care! And of course some will jump on board and label me a partisan fool, but you know, as I have said…..’blame shifting’ is something we have come to accept as par for the course anymore!

    Speaking about religion and truth and reason! Things are not the same regards that trio, they are not the animal they used to be, a transformation is taking shape there too, a devolving of sorts. From my literary collection I pluck yet another jewel:

    “If the Governor of the universe recognises (sic) man as a subject of reason, it follows that faith must be grounded in evidence; and therefore we should consider it as an intrusion upon the rights of an intelligent being, to publish a narrative of any wonderful occurrence without the support of competent testimony.”

    From: ‘The Methodist Magazine, For The Year Of Our Lord 1818 Volume 1″ New York 1818

  4. Charlie Stehlin says:

    louis curh says: “outright lies being amplified all over our social media for partisan political purposes.”

    Social media was supposed to bring us together Louis, or so this is what I heard when it all began how many decades ago was it now! It’s not happening as is clearly evident. So long as we keep coming up with excuses to justify our narrow views, beliefs and/or passions, political or whatnot, nothing will change! Until we start getting away from ourselves and start thinking about others, about futurity, nothing will change! That takes education and a deep cleansing, which we have neither time or mind for! It’s a terrible affair indeed!

  5. Charlie Stehlin says:

    “the rich and powerful among us continue to use their dark money to buy the votes of too many politicians from both parties.”

    Yes! And though both parties can be held responsible for the conundrum we’re in, the one party is darker than the other, the one will sink the ship faster than the other. Both will say the same of the other, and this because of, again….value systems. One will say: “The world ends when our wallets and purses are depleted.” The other will say: “The world ends when nuclear warheads come reigning down.” Values and logic doesn’t always go hand in hand!

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