Legal Expert and WMU-Cooley Professor Addresses New Concerns about Water Supply as a National Security Threat
The ongoing Russian invasion of Ukraine has many keyed into the impact on global oil supply, but the U.S. National Security Council is renewing its focus on another area of national security concern – the global water supply. Cooley Law Professor Michael C.H. McDaniel, former U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary for Homeland Strategy Defense, spoke with Tom Jordan and Kevin Dietz of WJR-AM Detroit, sharing his perspective on this potential threat.
While a newly proposed White House plan would link global water security with global national security for the first time, the concern itself is not new, says McDaniel, recalling a 2012 report on the issue during his time at the Pentagon.
This has evolved over the last decade and McDaniel believes that the 2021 cyberattacks on the information control systems of the Colonial Pipeline and JBA Foods helped bring the issue of water security to the forefront.
WATER SECURITY IN FOREFRONT
“These were huge ransomware attacks on control systems and we have the same industrial control systems for water systems,” said McDaniel.
He also indicated that draught due to climate change and even a potential forced depletion of natural resources are key issues to look at, particularly as they could lead to significant displacement and regional disruption causing strong regional flashpoints.
“Ukraine is considered sort of the breadbasket of Eastern Europe and once upon a time the area around the Aral Sea between Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan was considered the same way and now it’s dried up,” McDaniel explained. “At 26,000 square miles it was the fourth largest lake in the world and now it’s a tenth of that size. This overuse becomes an issue of national security.”
McDaniel laid out two key elements for protection, which include having the same unified industrial control systems in place as energy, and building relationships with other nations to discuss protecting their water systems.
“And then what it comes down to … is the idea of a water footprint, like a carbon footprint. How do we lessen the amount of water necessary for different products,” said McDaniel. “A loaf of bread takes about 100 gallons of water when you look at all the different areas, transporting the crops themselves being the largest, manufacturing for the wrapper that the bread goes in, all that stuff.”
McDaniel goes on to discuss water supply in the United States and matters of regulation and potential trade credits between industries. Learn more by listening to the full conversation on WJR national radio.