“I truly believe we’re moving into an era of water scarcity throughout the United States,” said Peter Gleick, science advisor to Circle of Blue and president of the Pacific Institute, a think tank specializing in water issues based in Oakland, California. “That by itself is going to force us to adopt more efficient management techniques.”
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Declining water levels affect the Great Lakes, too. In a paper published late last year, scientists projected that over the next three decades or so, water levels in Lake Erie, which supplies drinking water to more than 11 million people, could fall three to six feet as a result of climate change.
Though there is disagreement in the scientific community about when the southeast drought will end, or how low water levels might get in the Great Lakes, most experts say that American water reserves are changing, and in many cases dwindling.
The gravity of the situation hasn’t set in for most Americans. In Atlanta, where drought dramatically lowered Lake Lanier, the region’s primary reservoir, water scarcity is generally seen as temporary, and not related to how the region has grown.