Monday, July 23, 2018

Water: Our Most Precious Gift

The Dry Sahara... the hottest place on Earth.    

As the summer typically heats up, those who garden are dependent upon water to keep all our treasures alive.  However easy it is to simply turn on the hose, the washer, the dishwasher, and the tub, it is only within this generation that a belief emerged that water was a constant, never ending gift. It is not so and thus we must evaluate our use and misuse of this precious commodity, which is more valuable that diamonds or gold.

Water is stored underground and goes through aquifers to reach the surface. An aquifer is a body of saturated rock with hills and valleys which filter and store water… some have water and some do not. If the rate of recharge is less than the rate of discharge even the ‘valleys’ with water will decline and their aquifer storage may decrease from drought or over use. With the global population explosion water use has decreased aquifers throughout the planet.

An example is Saudi Arabia who had one of the greatest and oldest freshwater resources… the nation has used four-fifths of its store of fossil water in little more than a generation.  They have invaded parts of Africa to ‘steal’ water and there is an ongoing war with the Indigenous people with the locals losing the battles. The Sahara Desert encompasses most of North Africa and as we have seen recently the sand from it arrives here almost weekly, making a choking haze from Houston northward while here we have the Mojave Desert in S.E. California and W. Nevada.

At home, there is a water crisis in California, New Mexico, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Missouri and Utah. Much of our water use is in the commercial production of chickens, hogs, and almonds where millions upon millions of gallons are used each day. Hershey’s bottled water comes from a secret (yet publicly owned) spring in California which is so well hidden that it may be reached only by helicopter… it is an intrigue which borders on criminal as the state suffers.

A global graph places water usage at 1,000 gallons per person per day… which seems an unsustainable rate by any standard. In third world nations where water must be hauled great distances, it is carefully reserved. The gentleman who researched water use found in the Middle East, women (not their husbands) knew exactly how much was used for drinking, cooking, bathing, and watering their goats and it was an astonishing low of 2,000 gallons a week.

Following the Dust Bowl, Michael’s grandmother recycled water constantly by pouring the dish or bath water on the garden, which seems extreme by today’s standards. But we can use a soaker hose, turn off the constantly flowing water in the kitchen, shower quickly, and realize the old adage ‘Waste not, want not’ is a truism. We can do better at preserving this precious, life-giving gift we have been given…for future generations, we simply must.

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