Whiskey is for drinking; water is for fighting

Mark Twain was ahead of this time in writing “Whiskey is for drinking …”, but in Californian open warfare for water seemed to be immanent. The threat of water war is far more pressing today.

Below is a frank statement from Ariel Sharon about the importance of control of water for Israel. Maybe some of you can find a map I once saw on the web that showed how much of the water supply in the region is found in the West Bank. Gaza seems to have less water, so is expendable.

Sharon, Ariel with David Chanoff. 1989. Warrior: The Autobiography of Ariel Sharon (NY: Simon and Schuster).

166: “While the border disputes between Syria and ourselves were of great significance, the matter of water diversion was a stark issue of life and death. A dry country with a critical water shortage, Israel enjoys only a brief winter of rainy weather. Other than that, the three principal sources of water are the Jordan River, various brooks and streams alone the coastal plain, and large aquifer that runs under the coastal plain and extends into Samaria and Judiah. Before 1967 a third of the entire water supply came from Jordan.”

167: “People generally regard June 5, 1967, as the day the Six-Day War began. That is the official date. But, in reality, the Six Day War started two and a half years earlier, on the day Israel decided to act against the diversion of the Jordan. From then on the Syrian border was tense.

What follows is another article that generalizes the water problem , but also refers back to Israel.Postel, Sandra L. 2006. “For Our Thirsty World, Efficiency or Else; review of Fred Pearce. When the Rivers Run Dry: Water — The Defining Crisis of the Twenty-First Century (Boston: Beacon Press).” Science, 313 (25 August): pp. 1046-7.

1046: “Irrigation accounts for the lion’s share of the world’s water consumption, 70 percent globally and 90 percent in many Asian countries, where nature doles out long dry seasons. One-fifth of China’s wheat and one-seventh of its corn are produced, in good years, in the coastal province of Shandong, which is last in line to receive the flow of the Yellow River. Farmers have already abandoned millions of acres of cropland in the water-stressed Yellow River basin, and in the summer of 2000 a mini-water war broke out in Shandong as thousands of farmers tried to siphon water slated for cities from a reservoir.”

1046: “As major rivers dwindle to a trickle, farmers and cities alike pump more water from underground. Globally as much as one-tenth of the world’s food may be produced with water drawn from declining aquifers. In India, at least a quarter of the farmers are overtapping aquifers, withdrawing water faster than those underground sources are recharging, and setting the stage for a “colossal anarchy” as more wells and fields are abandoned.”

1046: “Today each Palestinian in the occupied West Bank uses less than a quarter as much water as a neighboring Israeli. Palestinian families around Nablus spend between 20 and 40 percent of their incomes to buy water, while Israeli settlers enjoy green lawns and swimming pools. Pearce calls the 1967 Six Day War “the first modern water war.”

1046: “Before that war, less than a tenth of the Jordan River watershed was within Israel’s borders; by the war’s end, Israel controlled the vast majority of it, including Syria’s Golan Heights and key aquifers under the West Bank.”

1 comment so far

  1. […] Via Michael Perelman. […]


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