What you Need To Know

Opinions expressed in my articles are my own, and opinions in the articles and comments section written by others are strictly those of the author or commenter and not me.

Please be civil, it adds nothing to the conversation to engage in name-calling.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

What To Do When The Water Wars Begin

A couple of days ago the Government in Mexico was forced to shut down a water pipeline that normally brings almost a third of the water needed in that densely populated city. The lake level is so low the pipes were basically sucking up mud.

This is just the first of what is going to become a common occurrence in the very near future.

The Pentagon has had plans in its files for over thirty years now detailing the response to a number of scenarios when desparate people begin fighting over scarce resources, and the number one resource that was 'gamed' was water. We've heard discussions of peak oil, only it seems that peak water will hit us first.

One of the biggest consumers of potable water is agriculture. Now I know you're going to say 'but we need food too'. I agree. But what I don't agree with is trying to grow water-intensive crops in semi-arid and desert lands. For instance, most of the celery grown in the US is produced in Arizona. (A desert). Celery likes New Jersey a lot better. Because of the rain. Because of the temperatures. So why aren't we growing celery in New Jersey? Good question.

Similarly, the biggest rice crops are in the Sacramento River Delta. As you know, rice requires actual flooded fields for a lot of the first part of the growing season. Well, if they are doing that in a river delta it shouldn't be a problem - right? Well, not exactly. In order to meet the water needs of all the stakeholders on the river, they have had to dam and divert water from three other rivers in Northern California, rivers that are now having major problems including destruction of native fisheries due to low water levels in those rivers. And the Los Angeles area was trying to get legislation passed to require even more diversion water from these rivers and build a new canal to take it down there.

We have been hearing a lot of calls for backyard and frontyard gardens. These personal food sources are a great idea, no matter where you live. But you do have to pay attention. Herbicides and pesticides used on lawns are one of the worst sources of chemical pollution in this country. Most homeowners who use these products seem to feel that if a little bit is good, more is better. So, before you dig up your lawn to plant a food garden - you might want to talk to your neighbors and find out how they care for their lawns. And while you are at it, be sure to invest in a drip irrigation system. Overhead watering is the most inefficient method of irrigation, followed by ditching. Drip irrigation is the best since it delivers water directly to single plants or directly to the soil at the roots of your plantings.

Finally, look around your community. Where are the farming areas? What kind of crops do they grow there? Do they require irrigation? If so, where does the water come from? Are the crops really compatible with the climate where you are? Then pay attention to your local and area-wide land-use and planning boards. Find out where your own drinking water comes from if you don't know. Ask officials in your community if they have a backup plan if this water source becomes unavailable for some reason. Find out if there is a way that you personally can have a back-up plan.

And finally, we need to learn to eat foods that conform to the seasons where we live. Sure it's nice to have tomatoes in December in Montana - but do they really taste that good when they've come from South America? In the winter, root veggies and winter squashes are the vegetables of choice and of course, canned, frozen, or dried things. But that's another story.

I will be posting a series of articles on this subject in the next few weeks. I'll be discussing water conservation, alternate water systems, wastewater treatment, water source depletion and many other topics around this issue. Hope you'll come along.

1 comment:

Mr. Natural said...

Have been reading lately about alternate domestic water production/saving/use. I have always been interested in using grey water in gardening, etc. We are hoping to move to New Zealand soon, where many homes still have "tank water" - cistern roof water. If we end up with such a house, I hope to have a solar pump to move that water up to a higher point for gravity feed.

ANYHOW, thanks for stopping by LEFT EDGE NORTH.