I’m recycling a series of posts I made a few years ago about irrigation and the situation we are nearing regarding the world’s water sources and usage. Increased urbanization has produced an enormous thirst, world-wide, which, combined with Climate Change, are taxing us more severely than I believe we realize.
Irrigation offers something of a help in water conservation, but the greatest thing we can all do is to learn more about our role in saving water in a very general way.
Well, if you are not one of the millions of people who live in water-challenged environments, then maybe you shouldn’t. Know this, however: Water is the kind of thing wars get fought over. Right now, for example, Turkey has built a virtual TVA system on the Euphrates which has led to their control of the water that runs into Iraq and which produced extremely opulent vineyards and agricultural development which were once the wonder of the Ancient World. A drought has since occurred, meaning the rationing of this water tends to go to Turkish interests first. The result for Iraqi’s is less water, fewer crops, angry farmers and a new plague of snakes – and vipers at that, looking for homes. I could go on with current tales of tensions mounting over water issues elsewhere, too.
Here at home, much of my landscaping, living in Reno, Nevada, dealt with making this picture: (click any image to enlarge)
Into this result:
The lawn in the picture was insisted upon – as are lawns elsewhere. There is a turf farm lobby and fervent advocating for lawns in desert areas which is meeting some fierce resistance from common sense. While the arguments tend to stay political – and almost stupid in their simplicity and lack of insight – it is true that lawns are water-hogging enterprises. For my money, this is not to say they are not ever a lovely addition to a landscape. They are desirable in any number of a wide variety of ways – including cooling a place down in the Summer heat and providing some moisture for the air. I have always advocated a piece of lawn if the design was crying for it. But we no longer need massive swaths of lawns ala’ the English Model for the homes we decorate up out West. I have come to using lawns more for walkways in strips which make them special for barefoot walking and enjoying the green soothing effect. Besides, lawns are a lot of work!
Here in the United States, we face the same deal. Expansion to Sun Belt areas means a growing population using fewer and fewer water resources. Australia is another region who faces absolutely similar situations. Just like all other adjustment made apparent by our expanding populations – such as social benefits like rapid transit and skyscrapers – we will need to adjust yet again, but this time to a resource which we have always taken for granted. We have historically, in other words, undervalued water.
Acting responsibly at home just makes it easier on everyone when the hammer comes down. Using drip irrigation instead of bulk water-powering spray heads is just one way to save water for the crowd around us. Limiting our design to exclude humongous patches of lawn is another. Believe me, there are plenty of other ways to provide livable and gorgeous surroundings, even in a desert or semi-desert.
Irrigation provides the predictable measure of water spent on watering our precious landscapes and gardens. Its predictability and its accuracy are the keys here. Ill-aimed lawn nozzles can waste water egregiously, sending it down the street in a useless waste. But accurately-aimed lawn nozzles can efficiently water our lawns using less than half of the water we’d use applying an oscillating sprayer from our hoses. Watering a veggie garden by hand might just be the most wasteful utility of them all. A drip system will water the roots only, without evaporation or waste, providing healthier plants with an absolute minimum of wastage.
Providing the wide range of effects and tools now available to landscapers and designers can even result in crowds clamoring to see what all the buzz is at a well-lit up home. Notice this picture below how I am literally never without friends!
Anyway, adjusting we are doing. Irrigation companies now offer bonuses to those with ideas that lead to water saving technologies. This is “doing it right” and it also takes from plumbing (no pun intended) the many ingenious people among the general population for great ideas. In a sense, every small bit contributes to the overall whole. Smart landscaping and gardening persons are taking this all to heart. Being ahead of the curve in anticipating looming water problems might be one of the easiest calls ever. And, for sure, the stress of water-shortages has not hit with what will eventually be its full power.