Monte Vista Coop

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Water Issues - and there are many.

Remember when you were a kid and there were the Dick and Jane books? For those of you who don’t, they taught little kids from the fifties, sixties and seventies how to read, and  they used to say the biggest word of all was “LOOK”.  Well I beg to differ.   Hi, my name is Judy Lopez and I am an Ag educator who began this line of work about seven years ago. It was then that I learned the biggest word of all. . . “WATER”.
Water is considered a perpetual resource, I know that seems to be a strange statement in the middle of a dry year, but because it is part of a naturally renewable cycle it is considered ongoing. Now, I can see it if you think about it in terms of a geologic  time scale over eons, but in terms of lifetimes, I think personally (and I stress the personally), we have to look at fresh water supplies as quite possibly a non-renewable resource.  Not that anyone is to blame, we’re just human,  so with that in mind, of all the water on Earth only 3% is fresh and able to be consumed by plants, animals, crops, and humans.  Of that 3%, approximately 68% is tied up in glaciers, 30% is held up as ground water storage, while 2% remains as surface water, fresh water lakes, rivers, streams, and swamps. The key is that it is all driven by weather.
The water cycle is a key part of how we all exist, but we learned that little fact in 4th grade. The problem today is that a lot of us forgot it. So let’s have a quick refresher course.  We should remember that we need water to fall in the form of precipitation, then it does one of a few things.  It either stores in the form of snow or ice, infiltrates to groundwater, runs-off to streams lakes and rivers or is used by plants.  Next, as the plot continues - it evaporates from the surface or evapotranspires through plants and then condenses in the atmosphere and starts all over again. The key is the process recharge.  When water from the surface infiltrates the ground it recharges ground water supplies, with adequate precipitation rivers and streams are recharged allowing surface areas to stay hydrated.  Even the atmosphere stays hydrated. The system stays full. 
But this is in a perfect world without large cities, paved streets, concrete parking lots, malls and such progress. It is in this world recharge gets inhibited because water doesn’t go in, but runs overland  and suddenly picks up a lot of momentum, and other substances before going into streams and rivers causing erosion and  non- point source pollution.
  I think about farms and ranches a lot. I get the opportunity to spend time on them, advocate for them and teach about them and I am proud of America’s farmers and ranchers and how they work to preserve the landscape, as well as make a  living  and I know that if it is up to them we will preserve our water resources.  Simply by the act of placing water on crops that ultimately goes into recharge we are securing a valuable part of our water future. So next time you hear that our water future is better spent on city economies, remind them why Americans spend only .07 cents of every dollars on food and not .80 as in Kuwait and have fresh water to drink, wash and use.  It is because of our AG Economy.
So next blog let’s see how getting to the bottom of water somehow always means starting at the top.
I would encourage comments as well as answer any questions any of you have on this matter.  Thanks for taking the time to read my blog.
Judy Lopez