Thursday, October 29, 2009

Looking Out My Back Door

With apologies to CCR…

Currently there is talk in Arizona about sustained safe-use of water resources. Proposals are offered, solutions returned.  Most are merely hopeful, some just ridiculous.

If you want to know what the desert will naturally support, just look out your back door.  For a personal experience, pack into a wilderness area. Sycamore and Loy canyons are close. Legs of your trip will have to be planned carefully between springs, stock tanks, water holes. 

The desert doesn’t support an abundance of wildlife (human or otherwise) and the density of animal populations is typically low. In Arizona, for example, density of the deer population is estimated at 10 per sq. mi. -- in the most favorable habitat -- while in Wisconsin that number ranges from a high of 100 per sq mi. to an average for the state of 25 – 35 per sq. mi. 

Vegetation is scattered, also.  Monocultures such as lawns, vineyards and cotton farms don’t exist naturally because the water necessary to support them doesn’t exist.

Running counter to the scaled-back density of animals and vegetation, human population in Arizona has increased approximately 26% in the last in the last eight years.

The desert will not naturally support megaplexes like Phoenix or Tuscan with their monocultures of people. It is not an Iowa cornfield.

When we talk about pumping aquifers, constructing diversion dams and establishing reservoirs to support non-native agriculture and an overgrown population, it’s a conversation about debt…water debt.

Two water resources are particularly misleading:
1. Reservoirs, scattered about Arizona, look like lakes but are nothing but rivers with an enlarged surface area (and greater than normal evaporation) and. . .
2. Aquifers, being hidden, are only remotely connected to people’s awareness.

The perfect storm? . . .maybe it’s your choice. . . pump the rivers and aquifers and. . .take your chances.

For more on this subject please see