Small towns in America are often blessed with vast natural resources. When big businesses come into town to utilize those resources, it can be a boon to residents looking for good paying jobs, but it can also have surprising effects on the town. In The Wall Street Journal, Scott Patterson details the story of a major string cheese operation coming to the small Upstate New York town of Lowville. He writes:
When the Philadelphia Cream Cheese factory here started making string cheese, too, in the summer of 2017, it brought scores of new jobs to town.
It also boosted the facility’s water usage by hundreds of thousands of gallons on some days—eventually bringing its overall demand to more than 80% of the town’s typical daily supply. The draw sucked the municipality’s reservoir to dangerously low levels. Town officials, caught off guard, banned the village’s 3,500 residents from washing cars and watering lawns.
“People can’t believe how much water that plant needs,” says Lowville Mayor Joseph Beagle.
The incident put the factory, owned by Kraft Heinz Co., at the center of a water clash in one of the most unlikely of places: a farming and cheese-making hamlet in upstate New York that normally gets plenty of rain and snow, and sits just 40 miles from Lake Ontario.
Water is unlike any other commodity. Seen as a natural human right, it is available when we turn on the faucet or slurp from the water fountain at the park. Behind that veneer of plenty, though, companies are waking up to a new, water-constrained future—even in places like Lowville, usually blessed with plenty of it.
A potent mix of population growth, surging industrial demand, pollution and climate change is putting relentless stress on water resources all over the world. It is also pitting companies, used to near-limitless water, against other businesses and nearby residents, who need more of it, too.
Before committing to one another, big businesses and local leaders should understand the full impact of locating an operation in a town. Anyone moving for work or retirement should also seek to understand the dynamics of any town considered as a destination.
You must understand all the parts of the picture when choosing where to retire.
E.J. Smith - Your Survival Guy
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