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Except perhaps for the arid Southwest, water resources are generally sufficient to meet the needs of cities for the foreseeable future. Cities will continue to expand and additional rural areas will be converted to urban and suburban complexes. Demands for urban water will continue to rise and this will place a heavy strain on existing systems.
Cities have always faced water problems. This has largely been the result of 'crisis planning' or apathy. Immediate needs and minimum cost have been the governing criteria in solving water problems, as cities developed local supplies unilaterally and only at scales to meet local foreseeable demands. Most city water problems, however, have not been the result of shortages of sources of water but rather the result of overtaxed collection, storage, and distribution systems. This is verified by the experience of the Northeast during the recent prolonged drought.
Rapid expansion of urban areas, particularly in the large metropolitan complexes of the United States, is placing urban political entities in ever closer juxtaposition to each other. The large demand for water for each entity is resulting in competition for available sources and is rapidly reaching critical proportions. Increasing awareness of the role of water in our society further complicates this competition. Pollution abatement, recreation, wildlife conservation, and aesthetics are demands now recognized by both rural and urban areas. Future development of water resources must consider regional demands and resources. Only in this way can our reasonably abundant water resources meet the severe demands imposed by our rapidly expanding urban areas.