FLATOW: You're listening to TALK OF THE NATION: SCIENCE FRIDAY. I'm Ira Flatow.
A long hot drought is drying up the water in the West. Just take a look at the dry prairies sprouting up behind the Hoover Dam or the parched corn crops in Iowa, or the lake disappearing in California. Added to this climate change is a growing Western population that is going to need its drinking water or its lawns watered in Las Vegas, Phoenix - or even in the east - in Tampa or wherever that next big retirement community springs up. As the population grows and people move about the country, straining water supplies, chances are you may start to see a few extra digits on your water bills as more people try to tap a limited source.
Fights between states over water rights is nothing new. The Colorado River is a good example. So where is all of this headed? The water shortage is forcing water providers to become a bit creative, stretching every drop, reusing some of it, whether it be for your kitchen sink, the farmer's field or industrial uses. So for the rest of the hour we're going to be talking about the freshwater crisis here and around the world. Maybe there are some lessons we can learn from other parts of the world where they have a water crisis also.
What do you think? Do you have one in your state? What do you think we should be doing about it? Give us a call. Our number: 1-800-989-8255, 1-800-989 TALK.
Sandra Postel is a visiting senior lecturer in the environmental studies at Mount Holyoke College. She's author of several books on water issues, and she is director of the global water policy project. She joins us today for the studios of WSCR in Amherst, Massachusetts. Welcome back to the program.
Dr. SANDRA POSTEL (Environmental Studies, Mount Holyoke College): Thank you, Ira. It's a pleasure to be here.
FLATOW: Thank you. Brent Haddad is an associate professor of environmental studies at UC-Santa Cruz, where among other things he studies California water use and alternative sources for fresh water. He joins us from the campus of UC-Santa Cruz. Welcome to the program.
Mr. BRENT HADDAD (Associate Professor of Environmental Studies at UC-Santa Cruz): Thanks, Ira.
FLATOW: Dr. Postel, let's talk about - when we talk about fresh water, are there really more than one issue here? There must be a few different issues in this large issue.
Dr. POSTEL: Well there are a lot of issues. You know, we are talking today about the 300 millionth person to be added to the U.S. population, so population certainly is part of this equation. If you look around the world as well as in parts of the United States, we have, you know, very large populations in some very water-scarce areas, very high population growth rates in some of the most water-scarce areas, both here and abroad.
The population is part of it, but the other parts in my mind really have to do with how we use water and how we manage water, and so I think dealing with all three of those components, you know, the population side, the consumption side, and how well we manage it is really going to be really important as we move forward on this issue.
FLATOW: Do you think that we could have enough water if we manage it better?
Dr. POSTEL: I think we absolutely could have enough water if we manage it better. If you look at the statistics globally, for example, you know, we've got five to ten times more water than we would need to satisfy the basic needs of the human population. Now having said that, a lot of that water's not accessible to us. It's in places where people don't live, where we don't grow crops. So it's not all available to us. But the point is, if we get more serious about valuing water for all of its uses and begin to use it more wisely and a lot more productively, I think we could meet the basic needs of all people on the planet and, very importantly, begin to restore some of the aquatic ecosystems that have taken a bad hit from our past approaches to water management.
FLATOW: Let me just back up for a second because there are so many issues here to talk about. Name for me one or two of the major wastages of water, the practices that waste water, that you think should be managed better.
Dr. POSTEL: Well, we have to start really with agriculture, which is by far and away the biggest consumer of water on the planet in terms of human activities. About 70 percent of all the water that we're extracting from rivers, from lakes, from underground aquifers, goes to grow crops, and food production is a very, very water-intensive activity. It takes about a thousand tons of water to grow one ton of grain, and that's not accounting for any inefficiencies in irrigation, just the amount of water that the crop needs to grow - about a thousand tons per ton of grain. So it's a lot of water.
Now having said that, there's a lot of inefficiency built into our food system. We have very inefficient irrigation practices. You know, a lot of farmers are still irrigating the way farmers did centuries and centuries ago. And so there's a lot of updating we can do to make irrigation more efficient. One of the most efficient practices we have in irrigation is called drip irrigation. It's a very efficient way of getting water to crops. You go right to the roots where there's minimal evaporation and minimal losses of water. And we find that you can double or triple crop per drop of water of you move from more conventional irrigation to this more efficient drip irrigation. That's just one example of the potential for efficiency to help us do better in agriculture.
The other thing is looking at where we grow crops and how appropriate the crops we're growing are to the climate in which they're grown. We're growing some very thirsty crops in some very dry places. So there's a lot we could do to increase water productivity by shifting the crop base to more appropriate climates.
FLATOW: See, now I would have thought that all these lawns and golf courses and things would be soaking up a lot more water than agriculture, but you seem to say that it's even more in the planting.
Dr. POSTEL: Well, if you look at the three major sectors of water use globally - agriculture, industry and cities and municipalities - the breakdown is roughly like this: 70 percent goes to ag, about 20 percent to industry, and 10 percent to cities and municipalities. So watering lawns and watering golf courses fits under that 10 percent that's going to cities and municipalities. But that's also a very important 10 percent because it's a very concentrated demand. If you think about cities around the world, you've got a lot of people living in a very small geographic area in some cases, which puts a lot of strain on the rivers, lakes, groundwater aquifers, that are supplying those cities.
Lawn watering has become one of the biggest increased uses of water, particularly in parts of the United States as we suburbanize. More and more water is going to irrigate lawns. If you look at domestic water uses in much of the West, and even increasingly in the East, a large share - often 50 percent or more in the western states - domestically, is going to irrigate green lawns. So we need to ask, is that a productive use of water when we have rivers running dry, lakes beginning to shrink, fish going extinct, and so on. And I think the answer is probably not. And so a big new frontier in water conservation really needs to take place outdoors.
FLATOW: Brent Haddad, she seems to be describing all the kinds of things that go on, you know, go on in California with water shortages, and this is something that's been going on for quite a while out there. Has it not?
Mr. HADDAD: Well, millions of years. One of the things that you mentioned earlier - Sandra and also Linda Jacobsen - was how the population continues to grow. And out here, out west we're seeing that very intensively, and yet at the same time as a nation, our overall water use hasn't changed that much over the past 20, 25 years, it's just inching up. And so one of the ways that we've been able to adapt is that we're using water more intensively. As we conserve water, the water we are using just carries more of the load.
And what that means is we have bigger issues with the quality of the water once it's been used. And I think that drives us to this question of how are we going to treat that water that we've already used - that's passed through a farmer's field or passed through a city - and get even more use out of it. And it sort of moves us to a technological perspective on what kind of opportunities are available to meet future water needs.
FLATOW: Well, tell us about some of them. What kinds of technologies will help you recycle, re-use this dirty water?
Mr. HADDAD: Well, there's - the two basic categories are desalination and water reclamation and reuse, and they use overlapping actual technologies to achieve their goals. What they amount to is, after various earlier treatments, pushing water through it a membrane that lets the clean water through and blocks the pollutants from following. And so those technologies take a lot of energy because you're forcing water through that membrane.
But at the same time they produce water that is reusable for anything really, from agriculture use or public irrigation, all the way up to drinking or high tech uses.
FLATOW: Mmm-hmm. Does turning what was an agriculture area into housing change the water needs. Or, is it just the same kind of you know - it's the same water supply that you need.
Well it turns out that if you're transitioning from farmland to suburbia at least out west here it's just the same water use for both uses. And you can imagine that by thinking well, there's a whole lot of grassland that's surrounding the houses and so they're going to be irrigated the same way a crop would be, and then inside the house itself, there's the family uses. So it's just about the same. You don't get a big gain if you transition from ag to housing in terms of land use.
FLATOW: I was surprised to hear you say at that beginning that over the last decades that - did I hear you say the volume of water has not changed?
Mr. HADDAD: No.
FLATOW: The amount of water being used?
HADDAD: Yes, we use about 400 billion gallons of water per day in the United States, and that's a figure that really hasn't shifted that much since the mid 80s. There have been transitions within that figure, and the major transition has been the increase in urban water use.
FLATOW: But our population has grown so why does that demand not go up?
Mr. HADDAD: Because we're becoming much more efficient in the water we use. The cities - especially out west, but Florida as well and in the Southeast - urban uses have become so much more efficient that the per capita use has gone down over that same period of time.
FLATOW: We keep hearing about fighting over the water out west, from the Colorado River, other sources. I've heard Californians tell me that there are now going to be importing water from Canada? Is that correct - to California?
Mr. HADDAD: Well, I think that if we try to do that the Canadians will be building the same fence on their border that we're trying to build on ours down south. And so we're always looking for new ideas and new ideas come along, but I don't think importing water from Canada will be one of them.
FLATOW: Mmm-hmm. So where will you get the extra water you need for growth? Are you saying if we that technology - the technology fix will allow you to stretch the water you have now?
Mr. HADDAD: There's a few things that we can do, and in fact, cities throughout the West - and in fact state and federal government as well - are starting to pay close attention to these options. We're only using about 8 percent of the wastewater that we generate in the U.S. - this is urban wastewater. We're only reusing about 8 percent of that. If you think about it, this is water that was treated to the point of being drinkable - the highest quality water. It passed through the city and now it's coming out, and it has the city waste in it. But it doesn't have the heavy salt content, it doesn't have a lot of other problems with it that you start out say with ocean water or brackish water from underground.
And so we are only using about 8 percent of it now, so there is an opportunity there. And then we also have what I mentioned these brackish ground water sources, where in the past we thought - we used to call those saline sinks. In other words, forget about it, there is water there, it's lost, don't even think about it.
But now we're realizing that, depending on how you use that water, it actually is cost effective to set up a desal plant and bring that water into use.
FLATOW: Talking with Brent Haddad, Associate Professor of Environmental Studies at UC Santa Cruz. And Sandra Postel, Director of the Global Water Policy Project on TALK OF THE NATION SCIENCE FRIDAY, from NPR News.
Our number 1-800-989-8255 let's go to Arianna(ph) in Anchorage. Hi Arianna.
ARIANNA (Caller): Hi.
FLATOW: Hi there.
ARIANNA: I was wondering if you start - if they start taking water from abundant places, how would they be able to transport it and get it to the places where needed, say, California and that area of America?
FLATOW: Yes, how would you - how do you move a - you know we talk about people buying electricity and selling it on from state to state, can you do that with water?
HADDAD: Well, I think that we really can't think of electricity and water as the same here because the water is needed in every state. You might argue not so much Alaska, but it's so expensive to move water that what I think is happening is that we're relying by and large on our existing infrastructure, and California has more of it than any other place on earth.
So we can move water about 400 miles in California, but I think it's unrealistic to think that Alaska water will ever serve the needs of people in Los Angeles.
Ms. POSTEL: If I can just add to that, if I can just add to that Ira.
FLATOW: Yes, Dr. Postel.
Ms. POSTEL: One of the ways - one of the primary ways we actually move water around the world is in the form of grain. That's really how we trade water. Some of us in the water business call it virtual water, for that reason - call grain virtual water for that reason. Because it is so expensive and so unwieldy to move water, what we do move is the thing that's most intensive to produce with water which is food. And so if you look at a country like Egypt for example, it's importing half of its food, not because it's short of land but because it's short of water.
And so increasingly, as countries become more stressed in their water supplies, they turn to the international grain market to help balance their internal water budget. And we're seeing more and more countries begin to do this. So one of the ways water scarcity will play out in the world is through the international grain market, which over time will impact grain prices and all kinds of things. So, that's really going to be the way, I think, we balance water budgets, is through the grain trade.
FLATOW: Where are some of the greatest water shortages around the world? What countries, what places?
Ms. POSTEL: Well the Middle East certainly is the most water scarce piece of international real estate we can name. But, what's become increasingly of concern in the last oh I would say, five, ten years is what's happening in some of the large countries, in particular China, India and Pakistan.
China has 21 percent of the world's population, only about 8 percent of the renewable fresh water. So even at the national scale, it's a very, very water-stressed country. And most of its water is in the south, little of it in the north. And so the North China plain where Beijing is, where Tianchen is - a very important commercial city - you know, have serious water problems. The water tables have been dropping there steadily for some time now. The Yellow River runs dry most years. And so there is a clear water problem there - which the Chinese are now having to grapple with.
India is another important country to watch. And the thing that I watch most carefully there is what's happening to groundwater. Groundwater is in easy problem to ignore because it's literally out of sight, out of mind.
But if you look at India, the northwestern part of the country - which is their breadbasket - water tables have been dropping more than a meter a year, and a lot of places for some period of time.
And people that have looked at India carefully with regard to water suggest that as much as 25 percent of their food supply is now produced with water that is being over-pumped from underground aquifers.
So that's kind of a bubble in their food economy that is going to have to burst at some point. And what happens then is they'll look - like China is already beginning to do and like other water stressed countries - to international grain markets to help meet their food needs.
Now it's one thing for the Middle East to do that, right? But it's another thing when you've got a country as large as China - 1.3 billion people. A country as large as India, on top of that - another 1.1 billion looking to the international grain supply to help balance their internal water budget. So this is the way I think it's going to ripple out and have an impact globally.
FLATOW: Good analogy. We're going to tale a short break and when we come back talk more about water - water shortages - take more of your questions. Stay with us; we'll be right back.
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FLATOW: I'm Ira Flatow this is TALK OF THE NATION SCIENCE FRIDAY from NPR News.
FLATOW: California is getting tough on Global Warming a new law sets strict standards on Greenhouse gas emissions. How will the state meet its goals, will its economy suffer?
I'm Ira Flatow join me on SCIENCE FRIDAY, for a look at California's plan to fight global warming. Will other states follow suit? That's on TALK OF THE NATION, from NPR News.
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IRA FLATOW, host:
You're listening to TALK OF THE NATION, SCIENCE FRIDAY I'm Ira Flatow. A brief program note coming up on Monday on TALK OF THE NATION, North Korea's apparent test of a nuclear weapon drew tough talk and calls for sanctions. That punishment has been before - in Iraq, South America, Libya - to name just a few.
Do sanctions ever work? Plus the weekly opinion page that's all with Neal Conan on Monday's TALK OF THE NATION. We're talking this hour about water and about -is there enough of it? Let's go to the phones 1-800-989-8255.
Is it Nama(ph)? In Flagstaff?
NAMA (Caller): Yes it is.
FLATOW: Hi, go ahead.
NAMA: I love your show, by the way.
FLATOW: Thank you.
NAMA: I'm a student of Sustainable Communities at Northern Arizona University. And one of the main themes of dealing with the United States and its water resources, among other things, is the fact that the United States, especially the Southwest, is characterized by aridity. And Los Angeles, Phoenix, Vegas, Salt Lake City, they're all characterized by the fact that they are arid climates with very, very scarce water resources. And for so long, the United States has been trying to convert the West into this flourishing paradise when it really is not in its nature.
I was just curious what all of you guys think about the fact that sustainable water technology is much better and smarter than the traditional technology.
FLATOW: Let me ask that to Brent Haddad, because Brent, you've painted a pretty rosy picture of what's going on and possible in California. But as our caller Nama says, it doesn't sound so good where she is living.
Mr. HADDAD: It's kind of like Chinese paintings that extend out beyond the frame. And Nama is talking about what is that frame and out beyond it. And she is absolutely right, that it's in a way an accident of our history and our culture that we have migrated to this region that is really inhospitable to the quantities of people that we have here.
And I think that taking the long view, historians - a 1,000, even maybe a 100 -150 years from now - will scratch their heads and say why did this happen this way? But at the same time what we're looking at is, well what are we do today and tomorrow. And for water agencies, what are we going to do for the next 30 or 40 years to assure a high quality reliable source of water to the people who live here and the people who keep wanting to come. So, that's the time frame that I take.
FLATOW: Do you ever say just don't - just don't come? There is no water left? There is no more water - please don't build in the desert.
HADDAD: We're actually studying that very point here. We have an initiative called Urban and Regional Water Research. And one of the things we're taking up is this question of the links between economic growth and demographic growth, city growth and water supply. Some of our early results show that there really isn't a big connection between the two, is that developers don't look at water supply when they make their decisions of where to put new suburbs. And so, it's a very interesting question and it's at this point, it's still de-linked -water supply and growth, especially in California and the Southwest.
FLATOW: Nama, got a reaction?
FLATOW: You happy with that answer?
NAMA: Not particularly, but I suppose it will abide. I just - I'm a big believer that technology can help us get out of this problem. And there are such simple things that can be done, like in Phoenix for example, xerescaping, and compost toilets, and water rain barrels. I mean, those are three simple technologies that can make such a huge difference. But municipal groups and county groups are not doing enough to encourage citizens to install such devices and encourage developers to do the same.
FLATOW: Well, thanks for calling.
Ms. POSTEL: Ira, if I could just add one point to this.
Ms. POSTEL: I think, you know, part of what's gone in the West - and not just the West, but elsewhere - is, you know, a tendency to underprice water and for governments to subsidize very, very large water projects that bring water to these populations where I think we're all suggesting maybe it's just unsustainable from a resource standpoint. So some of the very large water projects, like the Central Arizona Project, like the Central Utah Project, like moving water from Northern California down to Los Angeles, has encouraged this growth. So I think it's not entirely by accident that it's happened. There's been a policy to subsidize water for a very, very long time.
And so I think one of the things we need to look at is to bring our water policies up to date and to recognize that water now is becoming increasingly scarce. There's competition for it - not just between cities and farms and industries - but between human uses and the environment that supports everything else. And so I think an update of our water policies, and pricing, and regulations is really critical to begin to move toward a more sustainable picture of water down the line. And that line can't be too far off.
I mean, we're seeing so many signs of unsustainable use - rivers running dry, aquifers being depleted - that those transitions need to happen quite soon.
FLATOW: You know, we should have those bottled water people start supplying the water. Then you'd conserve it. It's costing more than gasoline.
Talking about technology, I want to bring in Jerry Maxwell. He's the general manager of Tampa Bay Water in Tampa Bay, Florida. Now, we talked about new technologies that may help alleviate water shortages, and among Tampa Bay's resources for water is the U.S.'s largest facility for desalination or desalinization - depending on which way you'd like to talk about it - and that is taking the salt out of the ocean water.
And the plant is currently offline for maintenance, but when it's operating, it can create 25 million gallons of fresh water a day from ocean water. Welcome to the program, Mr. Maxwell.
Mr. JERRY MAXWELL (General Manager, Tampa Bay Water): Thank you very much. I'm happy to listen and be a part.
FLATOW: That's a lot of water, is it not?
Mr. MAXWELL: Well, it's a sizable amount of water, yes. We have a very large system. It represents about 10 percent of our supply. But it's part of our commitment to the kind of balancing that's been discussed and our commitment to environmental stewardship. We're looking for long-term sustainable resources, we're looking for ways to bridge the feast and famine that we experience in Florida from too much rain to too little rain. And desalination is a technology that helps us bridge that gap and allows us to achieve our objective of environmental stewardship and sustainability.
FLATOW: It's got to be a lot more expensive, water from...
Mr. MAXWELL: It's very much more expensive, and that gets to an earlier point that was made about are we undervaluing water? We've undertaken a program to reduce our reliance on groundwater in favor of the environment by 100 million gallons a day. And we've done that by diversifying our supply, using both fresh surface water as well as desalinated seawater. And we will achieve that objective this year, and that has increased the wholesale cost of water by more than two times.
The judgment made by the public policy-makers at Tampa Bay Water is that that's part of our responsibility to achieve both a sustainable supply and to exercise a very high level of environmental stewardship.
FLATOW: And the good folks at Tampa Bay are going along with it.
Mr. MAXWELL: That's correct. And now, I would also point out that the good folks at Tampa Bay have exercised a very high level of conservation, and conservation restriction, and xerescaping, and the use of reclaimed water for outdoor irrigation, and washing of cars, and those kinds of things is very prevalent across our entire region. And we've been able to reduce per capita residential consumption to levels of around 100 gallons per person, per day.
FLATOW: Wow, that's amazing. Of course, then, you have the population that's prime. They're committed, they're involved in doing all this?
Mr. MAXWELL: That's correct, they are, and I think they're very directly involved. The board of Tampa Bay Water is a collection of locally elected officials in three counties and three cities that serve two and a half million water customers.
FLATOW: Now, the plant hasn't been without its problems. It's offline now. Does that mean that it's very difficult to keep something like this online all the time, or is this an expected maintenance problem?
Mr. MAXWELL: Your question's a good one, and it's very much on target. It's probably some of both. We made some changes in the plant over the last six or eight months to extend its life and cause it to operate more effectively, efficiently. We're going to accept - the plant will undergo an acceptance test in early December. It concludes around December 22. We expect to be producing 25 million gallons a day over that period of time, and we have another test-run during our dry season, which is when we want to be able to rely on it, that will again - where we'll operate for four months at 25 million gallons a day.
FLATOW: Well, good luck to you and the folks in Tampa Bay, Jerry.
Mr. MAXWELL: Thank you very much.
FLATOW: Jerry Maxwell, general manager of Tampa Bay Water in Tampa Bay, Florida. Sandra Postel and Brent Haddad - possibly models for other cities? What do you think?
Ms. POSTEL: Well, I actually see, you know, desalination as sort of a solution of last resort, not really something that we should, or really can, look to to solve some of the big problems we've been talking about this afternoon. Certainly, in areas that get very little rainfall - parts of the Middle East, you know, countries like Kuwait where you just don't have rainfall and any renewable water to work with - absolutely, desalination is a source that's important to supply drinking water.
At the moment, I have trouble seeing it as an elegant solution to our problems here in the U.S. and most places. If you think about what desalination is doing, it's using energy to turn saltwater into freshwater. Most of that energy is coming from fossil fuels, and so it's contributing to climate change, which is going to have a major impact on our ability to manage water and on our water supply. And so to me, it has some serious problems, and one thing we didn't mention was the difficulty in many areas of dealing with the brine that results, the waste product from the desalination process, which has environmental issues attached to it, too.
So to me, this kind of tendency to look toward increasing supply, which desalination is part of, really begs the question of what's happening on the demand side, where there's tremendous potential to meet the needs that we have for water by increasing efficiency through conservation.
And there are some really good examples of this now. In my own backyard in Boston, a city of over 2 million people, we've seen the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority, which got very, very serious about water conservation back in the late 1980s when it was looking at the need to divert additional water from the Connecticut River. And citizens encouraged the authority to look at conservation as a serious alternative to that supply-side solution, and they did and implemented a very aggressive water-conservation program. And what's happened? Thirty-three reduction in demand, and the reservoir that supplies Boston is brimming with water.
The question in our state now is what to do with this so-called surplus. There's no need for the extra diversion anymore, and there's now water to be dealt with in the reservoir, and the question is do we restore the ecosystem -the river ecosystem that that reservoir supplies - or do we increase the number of residents getting supplied by the authority? And that's the debate we're having now, and the reason we can even have that debate is because there's been a successful conservation effort that has saved water in the state.
And there are a number of examples of that sort, but nowhere near enough to suggest that we've come close to tapping out conservation's potential in this country or internationally.
Mr. HADDAD: Well, I see things a little differently.
FLATOW: Hang on a second. Let me just remind everybody that this is TALK OF THE NATION Science Friday from NPR News. Brent, do you want to jump in there?
Mr. HADDAD: Yeah, if I could. We already have about 1,200 desal plants functioning the United States, and the majority of them are inland, where there's some brackish water - it's not as salty as seawater - and there may even be some industrial waste heat nearby that makes it cheaper to pass it through the filters. And it's these kinds of local solutions, where you're finding a water supply that's impaired, you're finding an energy source that's available - that would otherwise be wasted - that will create water in the future. And if we don't do that, then we're going to keep drawing down our rivers and our wetlands and our aquifers, which we just can't afford to do.
And so we really have to think about if we don't pursue desal and if we don't pursue water reclamation and reuse, well then, where are we going to get the water? And out west here, because we have these drought cycles and rainy cycles, we really can't hunker down so tightly on our conservation because the very first source of water during an extreme drought out West is the water that last year was used to water the lawn. And we give that up just because of general conservation. Then we're at higher risk when a big drought hits, and we have to start scrambling for other sources that are outside of the city.
So I would say that we're sort of just beginning these processes of developing these technologies and fitting them into the existing water supply. And it's a brave new world, and the Tampa Bay example is a very interesting one - it has technological growing pains - but eventually they'll have a plant that's really helping the environment of Florida. And I think that with some good public policy backing up the technology, we can re-water some rivers and protect the broader environment by using these plants.
FLATOW: Sandra, 30-second rebuttal.
Ms. POSTEL: Well, I think again it's a question of the value of water and what you're doing with it. I think in a lot of cases - I completely agree with Brent that there are some areas in which, you know, some desalination of brackish water makes sense, and we're seeing more and more of that. But I think as a supply solution - in most cases, we see large-scale desal going in - the demand-management side hasn't been tapped, and that's really where the most environmentally sound and most cost-effective ways of meeting new-water needs are to be found.
And so I think that - tapping that area more really needs to be the higher priority.
FLATOW: All right. We've run out of time. I would like to thank both of you for taking time to be with us. Sandra Postel, visiting senior lecturer in environmental studies, Mount Holyoke College; and director of the Global Water Policy Project. Brent Haddad, associate professor of environmental studies, UC-Santa Cruz. Thank you again for taking time to be with us.
Ms. POSTEL: Thank you Ira.
FLATOW: You're welcome.