Potable water shortages are becoming more of a problem in various places on Earth. The water problem in the western United States has received massive attention. On our “Canyonlands” trips, we always spent a day on Lake Powell, but the water level in that lake has dropped so much that the tour boats we used can no longer operate. The Rio Grande separating the United States and Mexico was once a barrier to crossing the border, but now it is so low that people can walk across it just about anywhere.
In many African areas, potable water shortages affect both humans and animals. For example, northern Africa’s Sahara Desert is roughly the size of the United States and is home to many animals and people. In other areas, a lack of wells prevents access to the water underground. So is there a weakness in God’s creation that causes water shortages resulting in thirst and pain for millions of people? The answer is definitely not.
God has provided water stored underground and in the mountain snow, but humans refuse to manage the use of these stored reserves carefully. The desert plants God created, such as the saguaro cactus in the American southwest, prepare to survive the dry season by storing large amounts of water when the rains come. We need to apply that kind of wisdom to avoid water shortages.
Underground rivers contain massive amounts of water in various parts of the world. For example, before the last ice age, the United States had a river we call the Teays, which was much larger than the current Mississippi River. It started in North Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia, and Ohio winding through northern Indiana and Illinois, eventually joining the Mississippi drainage. It was miles across. When the glaciers came through the area, they diverted rivers and filled the riverbeds with sand and gravel. As a result, the Teays River became buried, and the porous deposits today store massive amounts of water.
The largest freshwater lake on Earth is Russia’s Lake Baikal, which holds more than 20% of Earth’s fresh surface water, equal to all the U.S. Great Lakes combined. Lake Baikal is 400 miles long with 1300 miles of shoreline, an average depth of 2442 feet, and a maximum of 5387 feet.
The bottom line is that, on a global scale, we have no water shortage. Our “blue planet” appears blue from space because of the abundance of water. Unfortunately, like most environmental problems, we have failed to use what God has given us intelligently. We have the technology to provide potable water to everyone on Earth, but greed, selfishness, politics, and poor management combine to cause water shortages. Water is a creation of God that we need to manage wisely and distribute unselfishly.
— John N. Clayton © 2023
References: “Smarter Ways With Water” by Erica Gies in Scientific American for January 2023, pp 12-14, or scientificamerican.com and Geofacts # 10 from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.