With the baby boom generation quickly heading into retirement mode, relocation plans will be part of the equation for many of them. Over the next 20 years or so, many of the warmer southern and western states are expected to see steady increases of migrating retirees. This will place a strain on local water supplies, some of which are already facing shortages. The availability of fresh water is becoming an important factor to consider when relocating. The world’s largest fresh water supply, the Great Lakes Region, contains over 85% of the United States’ total resources. Could this possibly lead to several of the great lake states experiencing an influx of retired workers?
Everyone talks about our involvement in Iraq, conflicts in the Middle East , and of course the rising cost of energy. These and other topics like terrorism, make up the leading headlines for much of today’s news. Most people take water for granted. Turn on the faucet and you usually get all you need. So water, the most precious commodity on earth, is not normally a front page item. The fact remains that less than 3% of the total amount of water on this planet is fit for human consumption. And much of that is frozen in the polar caps or in snow cover. While it is true that advancements have been made in the desalinization process, it still is very expensive. There are few other alternatives to provide fresh water.
Several major destinations, considered as prime relocation spots, are being affected by increasing shortages. At least seven western states, including California, Arizona, and Nevada, have all but drained the Colorado River dry. In the Midwest, the massive Ogallala underground aquifer has been dropping steadily. Estimates say it will have lost 60% of its volume going back from 1970 to 2020. And even Florida, surrounded by water, is experiencing drought in several counties. While other parts of the country struggle with the possibility of dwindling supplies, the Great Lakes Region is fast becoming the focus as an eventual resource for dozens of states. Whether or not a rush to build thousands of miles of waterlines comes to fruition, the area will remain a stable water source. The five great lakes hold enough water to cover the entire country to a depth of nine feet.
Many of the millions of boomers who have dreamed of living in a milder climate year round, may be faced with giving up that dream. Some will be forced to stay where they are and others may at least delay their departure. There is little doubt the impending water crisis may cause people to flock to areas where water is plentiful. States like Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, and New York might experience rising populations in the decades to come. These states and others could see an economic boom while more attractive parts of the country see a decline. Predicting how shortages will alter the migration of the population is highly speculative. If current usage routines are not somehow modified, the coming crisis might bring a reversal of current migration patterns.
About 80% of this countries municipal water systems are publicly owned. There are only a handful of private companies involved. If major pipelines are to be constructed to transport water hundreds of miles, it will cost government billions of dollars. If the water system moves toward privatization, the burden will fall on corporations. It is likely then that water rates will rise significantly since major water projects will have to be paid for from corporate profits. Either way, the rising cost of energy could take a back seat to the escalation of water rates. In 2025, demand is expected to outstrip supply by over 50%. Throw in higher life expectancies and water becomes more precious than gold. Overall global demands will increase the trading of water between countries. With populations growing and readily available supplies shrinking, there may be a battle over who will control its distribution. Adding water supplies to your list of things to consider when thinking about moving is already becoming a top priority.