For the foreseeable future, if anyone wants to live, work or invest in a place with a reliable supply of fresh water, it’s right here, in Chicago and on the Great Lakes. It’s time we started cashing in on this bonanza.

Our neighbors in Wisconsin and Michigan already are. Fortunately, there’s enough of that good wet stuff to go around. We usually take the lakes for granted. They’re scenic and they bring in tourists. We worry, as we should, about keeping them clean, and fret when water levels fall. But we seldom see them as the tremendous resource they are for economic development or job creation — a couple of big areas that need serious help right now. We do a pretty good job of conserving Great Lakes water. Now how can we use it?

These thoughts arise in response to headlines from California, the Southwest and, indeed, from a drying-out world. Drought and climate change are robbing vast areas of the resource we have in abundance. I don’t wish thirst on anyone, even a Californian, but it’s folly to ignore the opportunity this opens to revive our own economy and, with it, the city and the region.

Read the full story by the Chicago Tribune