Every week around Wednesday on The Oil Drum.com the editors invite a guest to propose a topic that addresses some practical aspect of the Peak Oil situation. This week it was a guest post from Sharon Astyk (TOD reader jewishfarmer). She is the author of one current book : ‘Depletion and Abundance: Life On the New Home Front.’ and two forthcoming books.
Her essay this week was about the issues involved in adapting to the Long Emergency – it’s about adjusting to a different type of ‘city’ and lifestyle than we are currently used to.

Mary and I have tried to get our friends to take a look at what TheOilDrum.com and TheAutomaticEarth.blogspot.com have to say about our present predicament – but they don’t, and they won’t, and that is that.


One of the central points in her essay, picked up by several commenters – and of particular interest to me this winter – is the key role that water-supply will play.

Here’s a taste of the discussion:-

jewishfarmer on The Oil Drum February 4, 2009
My own feeling is that where we may end up may well come down mostly to water in the next few decades. Soil yes, but water first and foremost.

Ron Broberg on February 6, 2009
As I survey my 1/3 acre domain, it becomes quickly apparent that water is my limiting factor (Colorado Front Range).
I was telling this to my wife a couple of weeks ago when, literally the next day, a water main burst and we are on boiled water for the rest of the week.

KingPing on February 6, 2009
I guess, as I survey my small “suburban” lot I have the exact same concern–water.

Will Stewart on February 5, 2009
Richard Seager, et al, Model Projections of an Imminent Transition to a More Arid Climate in Southwestern North America, Science 25 May 2007: Vol. 316. no. 5828, pp. 1181 – 1184 DOI: 10.1126/science.1139601
“there is a broad consensus among climate models that this region will dry in the 21st century and that the transition to a more arid climate should already be under way. If these models are correct, the levels of aridity of the recent multiyear drought or the Dust Bowl and the 1950s droughts will become the new climatology of the American Southwest within a time frame of years to decades.”

wrighttracks on February 5, 2009
Future water availability was mentioned and truly this will be an issue. It is already an issue. All areas with large populations and anticipated water problems are suspect as being viable.

nelsone on February 5, 2009
It’s all about the water, isn’t it? Food shortages can be dealt with by slow, steady shipments of nonperishables, but how much water can you tanker in to Atlanta or LA?

Richie Gunn on February 6, 2009
Rainwater in the Southeast is the new liquid gold and it should be treasured so. We all should collect rainwater from our roof tops at the least.


Here in the Languedoc region of SW France, water has always been a major factor in rural life. There is either a drought – or a deluge. The last major flood, in 1999, killed 21 people in our immediate area. Hosepipe restrictions are a regular factor each summer. Higher up in the Corbières Hills a friend lost her vigorous little stream for several months: her isolated small-holding depended on a temporary [and illegal] pit being excavated in the stream-bed.


There is water in this valley – fed by the snow melt from the Pyrenees and a myriad of other tributaries. Little is taken out for industry – there is none. But each village is experiencing a decades-long North-South drift, and this region is expanding where others are shrinking. The water-demands of bulk wine and little suburban developments is taking its toll.

Our village, with its new station in 1856, was set to be a new market-town mid-way between Narbonne and Carcassonne. But while each big house had its own wells [we have two], and the ‘ordinary villagers’  had a constantly running fountain/horse-troughs/public pumps – this was the limit of our village’s water supply. The market town was built 7 km. away in the valley bottom. Where the floods of  ’99 hit hardest.

Our huge house has just survived the most violent wind since ’99 – Tempête Claus – with roof intact and two trees down; quite minor. The water table [ la nappe phréatique ] is high again for the first time in years, and my fears for our kitchen-garden abate a little. The house well holds ten cubic meters of sweet water and the ‘grand bassin’ holds another seven. The swimming pool contains 80 cubic metres – but when the Economic Collapse occurs we won’t  be worrying about our ArtHoliday guests objecting to pondweed and oxygenators. The Black Swan still circles our little corner.


This is the skeleton of the water pump on our workshop barn. The other photos show the remains of wind-driven well-pumps in villages around.

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