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Experts at all levels worried about water

April 21, 2008|By DAVE McMILLION

SHEPHERDSTOWN, W.Va. - The region might have received good spring rains over the weekend, but the conversation at Shepherd University Sunday night was a dire one in regard to water.

International, national and local experts on water gathered at Shepherd's Robert C. Byrd Center for Legislative Studies to talk about how to balance the world's increasing human population with available water.

The world population has risen to 6.5 billion people, and during the forum, gripping images of water problems were shown, including a reservoir going dry in Kenya.

And with water sources limited, conflicts have started to arise among countries who must share it, said Dennis B. Warner of Catholic Relief Services.

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"I would put it in the framework of a crisis," Warner told about 50 people gathered for the forum sponsored by the Rotary Clubs of Shepherdstown and Martinsburg, W.Va. The forum also focused on local water issues.

As the town of Shepherdstown faces increasing demand for water service, it will need another water tank, said Sue Kemnitzer, chairperson of Shepherdstown's water board.

Not only is the cost of the project an issue - projected at $2.5 million - but the location of the tank will be another, Kim Kemnitzer said.

"Who wants a tank in their backyard?" Kemnitzer asked.

Kemnitzer said the town's water rates will have to be increased to pay for the tank.

Although the United States has larger water supplies than other countries, situations were discussed like water shortages in Atlanta. And when people talk about alternative energy forms like "clean-coal" technology, missing from the discussions is the large amount of water that will be needed for such technology, said Joe Hankins, vice president of the Conservation Fund and member of the Jefferson County Public Service District.

To help conserve water in the U.S., there has been discussion of injecting rainwater in groundwater systems and putting ocean water to work for humans through desalinization, said Eric Evenson of the U.S. Geological Survey.

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