Water, water everywhere: dare I drink a drop? (with apologies to Samuel Taylor Coleridge)
Given New England’s ample rainfall, green forests, and extensive wetlands, many of the region’s inhabitants might question the notion that it faces potentially severe water shortages. Yet, parts of the region already confront such shortages. These shortages are likely to spread, absent corrective action. This paper describes the characteristics of New England responsible for its looming water problems, identifies areas within the region most vulnerable to such problems, and analyzes alternative strategies for alleviating them. Small, shallow, porous aquifers are the region’s primary geological impediment to trapping and tapping adequate water supplies. Urbanization and a spatial mismatch between economic growth and water availability are contributing factors. Areas within the region most vulnerable to water shortages include, but are not limited to, southern Maine, southern New Hampshire, northern Vermont, and Massachusetts’ North Shore and Route 495 corridor. While no single solution to potential water shortages is clearly superior, the authors conclude that conservation is a promising, effective tactic that should be an important component of any water strategy.
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