The drought of 2005-2007 in the Southeastern United States was perceived to be one of the worst ever; but was it?
Columbia University researchers have concluded the drought was not unprecedented and resulted from random weather events, not global warming. They say the severe water shortages resulted from population growth more than rainfall patterns. The researchers, who report their findings in an article in an issue of The Journal of Climate, cite census figures showing that in Georgia alone the population rose to 9.54 million in 2007 from 6.48 million in 1990. “At the root of the water supply problem in the Southeast is a growing population,” they wrote.
[Reference: New York Times]
In short, as population grows – often very rapidly – both the storage and distribution of water may lag demand, making water supply more vulnerable to the variations in climate, whether related to climate change or not. The same situation applies, probably in spades, to regions of the United States such as the Southwest and California where population growth continues to outstrip both the supply and distribution of water.