Updated: Oct 2, 2021
All over the world we are seeing a rather terrifying amount of water shortage. Streams, creeks, rivers, and lakes are, in fact, drying up like never before. Farmers are actually refusing to plant due to the lack of fresh water. This is no longer a situation in which we can assume that everything will work itself out. It won't. Things will not improve, unless we proactively do something about it in every small-scale space that we can.
I will start by imploring you to do your own keen observation, research, and careful planning before attempting to do any kind of work on a freshwater supply. There are things to consider, especially if you are at a high altitude. Landslides and floods can happen if landscaping is done haphazardly. As well, it's important to know all your local laws, as folks downstream may own the rights to the water! This all being said, you can make an amazing impact on the environment, on your garden, and on your overall well being if you take proaction and repair the even one of the natural water ways of the world.
There is a theory is that all life began in the water. Whether or not it's true, it does make an interesting point. The fact is, all life needs water. A human being can go about two weeks without food, but only a few days without water. If you are still not yet feeling the calling, just wait…
Why is all the freshwater disappearing from the Earth?
Mismanagement and misuse on a massively large scale have led to unsustainable practices that are bleeding aquifers dry. In the first world, we use gallons of water for flushing toilets, we don't recycle grey water, and we run sprinklers for hours on end to water unsustainable monoculture lawns. In many developing countries, improper sewage disposal and pollution have caused freshwater to become unsafe for consumption.
This is where horrifyingly gross industry of bottled water comes in. To begin, it takes roughly 1.37 liters of fresh water to produce 1 liter of purified water, and about 50 billion plastic bottles are produced each year globally! Sadly, this is the only type of water most countries can safely drink, and these non-biodegradable bottles end up in the very streams and rivers that ought to be supplying freshwater in the first place!!
We need to first take responsibility for our local wetlands, ponds, streams, understanding that there are proven methods to creating an abundance of fresh water. Fresh water should be a basic human right and the only way we will survive as a species is by realizing this fact. Nature provides, and a better understanding of its principles is the first step towards symbiosis.
Throughout the globe lies an underground system of water passageways and pools much like the capillaries of a body. These underground rivers are called aquifers. They exist even in the dryest places on the planet, where aquifers can be deeper than 30,000 ft! (9,000m) They supply all the Earth with springs, lakes, rivers, and even oceans. Water is naturally purified and charged with minerals as it travels through the Earth's crust, creating healthy fresh water as a result. Humans have learned to pump that water up to the surface in order for irrigating crops and feeding livestock. If the water is used too rapidly, it will eventually deplete the supply. If you live near the ocean this will actually create a suction effect on the well, and it will draw in salt water once the aquifers have been pumped dry. Using wells, like anything else is best done in moderation.
Freshwater well pumping is actually an ancient and sustainable practice when done correctly. The right way is summed up best by an old saying from acequias culture in New Mexico. It goes something like "Usa lo que necesites y deja que el resto fluya."
“Use what you need and let the rest flow.”
Luckily, the closer you are to these aquifers, the easier it is to replenish them. When we use proven methods to allow freshwater to sink back into the Earth, the aquifers begin to replenish. When they are full, they essentially erupt back into a spring. Haven't you ever wondered where freshwater springs come from? They only exist when the ecosystem is perfectly healthy, and that is perchance why freshwater springs have always been considered sacred.
So how can you begin to rebuild the underground water supply on the land in which you steward?
The principles and methods that you can utilize in order to conserve and restore the freshwater supply include (but are not limited to); water catchment areas, swale construction, terraced gardening, contour farming, stream restoration, natural ponds, rainwater harvesting, water purifying plants, wetlands creation/management, ground cover planting, mulching, native planting, and more. You can even utilize the effect of the moon's mass on Earth to maximize your planting and watering habits to use less water and have greater success!
If you see anything you'd like to be added to the list, do not hesitate to comment or send an email. We are all in this together, and it is not too late. We can save the planet and ourselves by first restoring our most precious resource.
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