Friday, October 19, 2007

Water Woes

In the opening chapters of Trinity on Tylos, the main character, Venice Dylenski, discusses the frustrating matter of finding the right planetary home for the human colonists onboard the Excalibur. She states,“It just remains to find the right balance of land and water. I’m beginning to understand that it’s not air that is precious, it’s water.”

When I wrote those words, I was looking ahead toward the middle portion of the book, when the characters are on the planet Tylos, a rocky-red planet with limited water, but enough. The inhabitants just have to manage that precious resource responsibly. I didn’t view her words as prophetic, but perhaps I should have.

I live in a section of Georgia which used to be rural, with small rivers and streams meandering through woods and pastures. For “city water” folks here would dam up a creek or river and create a pond as a reservoir. Anyone outside of those areas would dig a well and use the ground water. Occasionally a well would go dry, necessitating digging a bit deeper or in a different spot, but most folks had plenty of land and therefore enough water.

Then came our new neighbors. Lots of ’em. The water resources in northern Georgia are no longer sufficient to meet the needs of the population. Oh, we’ve had a drought, but if it rained every week, we’d still have water woes. We haven’t balanced the use of the land with the water available. Leaders here seem baffled, but a look at a map of our country shows that a few decades back, there was much better balance. Large population centers and industry were clustered around the Great Lakes, beside the mighty Mississippi, or on the coast. The idea of using a river the size of the Chattahoochee for both industrial use and for a multimillion population center would have caused leaders fifty years ago to smile knowingly. That stream just isn’t big enough, even when dammed up to create Lake Lanier.

Venice manages to solve the water woes on Tylos, but that’s fiction. Any problem that crops up in a novel can be solved by the inventive mind of the author. Alas, it isn’t so easy in the real world.

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At Nov 6, 2007, 2:56:00 PM, Blogger Sun Singer said...

We hear sometimes that the fictional stuff on such shows as Star Trek gets people thinking "what if?"

One "what if?" that might come out of science fiction in print and on the screen may be the concept that water can be recyled over and over again.

Conservation would be a good start and finding watersheds capable of supporting the popular will help for a while. Years ago, I saw a story in a conservation magazine about some folks who built a house in the woods who built a house that had a safe, health-dept approved water syste that, once filled up, seldom needed more water from the outside.

SciFi addresses such things all the time and so, of course, do the Space Shuttle and the International Space Station.

Maybe our city fathers need to come out and talk to you about how water was handled on Tylos when they make plans for the future.


At Nov 6, 2007, 9:16:00 PM, Blogger Pamela J. Dodd said...

"What if" is the very reason I like SF literature. Certainly recycling and conservation of resources is the only lasting answer to our current water woes.

As for my new role as consultant to the city father, I'll be happy to chat with them most any time.

We did have two guys call on us who were running for the city council. Both of them thought they knew all of the answers, so we can rest assured that regardless of the victor, all will be well here.



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