Friday, April 10, 2009

Agua Dulce

One of my all time favorite reads is a 1985 publication by Bill Devall and George Sessions called "Deep Ecology: Living as if Nature Mattered." The ideas in the book resonated with me back then (in my early twenties), and still do now. Twenty four years later, I find it odd that the idea of an environmental consciousness, this whole "green" wave that has seized mainstream media, is now regarded as something new. Perhaps every generation just needs to be reminded of these things.

When I taught environmental education for Yosemite Institute during the 1980's, I often used a little quiz in the book as a foundation for the week of exploration shared with junior high or high school students. So, my next series of blog posts is going to explore each of the 27 topics and questions listed on page 22-23 in the book called "Where You At?" The list was developed by Jim Dodge (reprinted from CoEvolution #23, Winter 1981), who is one of the original proponents of bioregional community planning (at least in contemporary American culture; this ain't a brand new idea either). The purpose is to help people understand the ecosystem in which they live, and thus realize right lifestyle in relationship to that ecosystem.

Since I live in the Sonoran Desert in Arizona, what is true here may be very different to that which is true to someone living in the Pacific Northwest or the Rocky Mountains, if you were going to choose to live as if Nature Matters.

Question/Topic one: Trace the Water you Drink from Precipitation to Tap.

Well golly, it just comes out of the faucet, doesn't it? Come to think of it, I really only have a vague idea about where the water that showers me, the water I drink, the water I do my laundry and flush with comes from. The basics are just common sense. Rain, snow, stream run-off, aquifers, reservoirs. But which ones actually serves our household?

When I climb the hill behind our house and look over the other side to see what I can see, here is one of the views:

The turquoise ribbon on the right is one of humankind's great engineering achievements, the Central Arizona Project canal. The concrete lined canal flows through the desert for 336 miles, transporting water from the Colorado River at Lake Havasu (which is really a reservoir) in Parker, AZ, all the way down to Tucson, AZ. To read more about the largest aqueduct of this kind in the U.S., check out the wiki site:

Our household water most likely flows from the Colorado River and the vast watershed that originates high in the Rocky Mountains. These streams and rivers began mostly as snow. Once it is diverted into the CAP canal, i'm pretty sure it runs through a water treatment plant about five miles from our house, a high security facility that looks like this from the road:

We are lucky. Our water is clean, reliable, abundant.
But I most love the very few days of the year that I am lucky enough to drink sweet water from the source at a natural spring in the mountains or in a canyon, like this one in Paria Canyon that we filled our bottles with about a year ago:

Where does your water come from?


Amber said...

I love that first picture. So fresh. It's amazing how easy it is to forget all of the amenities that are brought to our front door without us lifting a finger. Truly amazing.

Allan Stellar said...

Our water comes from a well. 110 feet deep. It is fresh and cold--tastes great! and is pumped to the cistern by a solar pump. An anemic pump, it only sucks up about a 1/2 gallon a minute. As for our water use? We don't use much. Maybe about 20 gallons a day.

Katherine Darrow said...

HI Allan,
Wow! I'm impressed. Our water bill says we use about 250 gallons a day. I can't figure out exactly how. It does have a little to do with irrigation of the landscape. Let me know how the use on your system comes out when you start to grow the garden!