The Impact of Drought

Lee Shearer of the Athens Banner Herald reports on research by Franklin faculty on the recent drought:


But measured by its impact on people in the four counties served by the Bear Creek Reservoir, and how much it depleted water in area rivers, it was the worst on record, they say in an article published this month in the Journal of the American Water Resources Association.

“The smoking gun is pointing at population increases,” said one of the paper’s authors, UGA geography professor John Knox.

The paper’s authors also include former UGA geography graduate student Pete Campana, the lead author, geographer Andrew Grundstein and geologist John Dowd.

The four counties that depend on Bear Creek water — Oconee, Clarke, Barrow and Jackson — saved themselves by enforcing strict water conservation measures early in the drought, before they depleted all the water in the reservoir.

The work of Knox, Grundstein, Dowd and Campana paint a picture of future water struggles as phenomena that will connect local crises to larger regional issues. This aspect has surely been a hindrance in allowing for misinformation about climate change to gain credence. Water shortages might also allow us a context to understand the localized impacts of global climate change, which is not nearly as hopeful as it perhaps sounds - nor is it meant to be. But they could be a path forward in understanding our world and changing our behavior appropriately, nonetheless.

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