How we can Sustain our Water for Future Generations

Topic Personal and Off Topic // Author Elizabeth Quinn // Dated 27th of Feb, 2015.

With water covering a little over 70% of the planet, you’d be forgiven thinking there was an abundance of it, but in proportion overall, very little of it is suitable to meet our day to day needs.

Over recent decade‘s, the lack of fresh water became more evident as many US state’s declared a national disaster as their farmland suffered the driest season in many years.

When crop yield falls and American dollar’s are lost, generation’s of family’s borne into farming begin to question their livelihood. Farming communities throughout Africa “toughed it out” for decades as their farmland became a wasteland, the problem is all the more apparent, as US crop farming faces one crisis after another.

What causes a drought is the lack of expectant rainfall, and in many ways that is due to the change in climate ― you would believe, wouldn‘t you? However, could poor land management have a part to play, as this drama unfolds?

Better water conservation is required, merely damming the resource will only help in so far; and transporting water as one Californian district did [between 1985 ~ 1991] from Canada was clearly irresponsible.[1]

A Question of Farming Practices

Farming is the biggest mass user of fresh water not only in the US but globally, economically it’s felt more by the consumer across most countries who trade with the US when agriculture succumbs to drought, in terms of food pricing.

It’s not only grain stock you must consider, it’s the meat too; cattle require grassland that must be fertile. Where cattle are not farmed free range but fed grain stock then even more land ― and therefore water ― is required to farm.

One trend happening in developed countries, known as “factory farming” causes widespread damage to once arable land. Water lose is greatest (water conservation is non existent in effect) brought on by commercialised abuse of the land; what occurs is wholesale soil destruction.

The term “dust bowl” springs to mind, desolation is the reality.

How does water management policy work to maintain sustainable water conservation that does not further cause the problem?

One solution in prevention of lose of fresh water whilst maximising the productive use for agriculture is “overhead irrigation”, a system in use that allows far greater control over the usage of water.

As the water is collected, it’s lose (evaporation, run off) is greatly reduced. Another solution is for farming communities to use eco manure, mulching and to recycle crop residue (i.e. straw).

By doing this, the ability of the soil to retain and store rainfall will increase as those organic materials absorb the water ― a method growing in popularity as it is seen to be environmentally friendly, those organic materials are more widely available and affordable.

They do not pollute the land nor the water table either.

Also, engineered drought resistant crop strain’s that are dependent upon little water to survive the driest climate will address a few issue’s where there is a need for water for crop farming that is sourced from a non renewable resource; in remote area’s, there is little choice but to transport in fresh water.

Farming industry agree that to conserve water usage, innovative technologies will help however traditional farming practices too are called for:

  • forgo the use of fertilisers as salt is corrosive to the soil

  • reduce deforestation / land given over to farming, that contributes to soil erosion

  • growing natural wind breaks to prevent peak soil lose

The problem with deforestation is that the land once continually cultivated, soil damage leads to erosion; the soil does not hold rainfall. Sustainable land management would allow specific acreage time to recover, land that is not farmed for one or more seasons.

This approach allows farmland to recoup from damaging effects of modern fertilisers, in turn rainfall is held in the soil for longer. A greater benefit would be to reseed some land “once spent” with trees, those native to the area helping to maintain the local eco system.

Tree’s are natures way of managing land, least we forget.

10 Things that You can do to Help

  • When brushing your teeth, turn the tap off to save up to 6 litre’s or more

  • Repair a dripping tap; in many cases all you need to replace is a rubber washer to save 15 litre’s per day ― yes, as much as that!

  • Use a watering can in the garden, and do so early in the morning or late afternoon to minimise evaporation

  • Only do your laundry washing once there is a full load, likewise for the dishwasher

  • Turn the shower off just one minute earlier ― a saving of 25 litre’s on average

  • Keep a jug of drinking water in the refrigerator

  • Add bark and mulch throughout your garden to prevent the lose of moisture

  • Install a rain barrel to a down pipe to capture and store rain water ― and not as expensive as you may think

  • A small hole ― use a knitting needle ― every 6 inches on your lawn will allow water to reach the roots far quicker - less water is lost and wasted

  • Leave mowed grass on your lawn for a day or two longer ― helps to cool the ground and prevent moisture lose

By following these tips, you’ll not only save water, you will also reduce your energy usage. You will also lower your household bills into the bargain!

[1] Sunbelt Water Inc. vs. the Government of Canada:

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