Experts predict future water shortage

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, July 5, 2000

Features Editor

July 4, 2000 10 PM

The old adage that you don’t miss your water until your well runs dry is not usually taken literally but Marlin Cook, hydrogeologist with the Geological Survey of Alabama, said it’s time to begin taking it seriously.

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Cook has worked on ground water and surface water projects, including aquifer assessments, hydrostratigraphic and geochemical analyses, nonpoint source evaluations and public water supply assessments.

For the past 10 years, he has studied the surface and ground water resources of Southeast Alabama. He has studies completed and in progress that will supply information needed to assure a continued supply of clean water.

Cook spoke to the Brundidge Rotary Club Wednesday and told the Rotarians that water is the nation’s

most valuable resource but it is not an inexhaustible resource.

Southeast Alabama gets almost 100 percent of its water supply from ground water but only a fraction of the earth’s supply is ground water.

"Only .29 percent of our water is ground water," Cook said. "Most of our water, 97.61 percent of it, is in our oceans and 2.08 percent is polar ice caps. The ground water is being used at a much greater rate than it is being replaced."

That being so, it is conceivable, even inevitable, that the ground water will one day be exhausted.

"The future is the supplementation of surface water," Cook said.

Cook is currently studying five tributaries in Southeast Alabama that could potentially provide surface water for the 10 county area – Whitewater Creek, Double Bridge Creek, Little Double Bridge Creek, Little Choctawhatchee Creek and Black Wood Creek.

Cook said environmental issues have to be considered when

building reservoirs. Protected wetlands could be destroyed as could the habitats of endangered species.

"That’s why we are looking at tributaries so closely," Cook said. "They will not have as much of a negative impact on the environment as a major river source would."

Cook said in 20 years there will be a drastic change in the way water is used and found. He encouraged the Rotarians to be good stewards of their most valuable natural resource so that it will be readily available as a life source for future generations.