Water Is Life

It’s a popular phrase and so true. If a region or society destroys its water sources, that’s pretty much the end of things. And not just because we require water to drink and to water our gardens: Recently I learned that the water cycle is the biggest temperature-stabilizing mechanism on the planet.

Soil is essential to life as well. Kudos to all of you who are working on building healthy soil. Besides growing trees and crops, healthy soil (soil with a healthy population of microbes and fungi) sequesters massive amounts of carbon — even more carbon the huge amounts stored by trees and other vegetation!

Working on restoring the water cycle leads to healthier soil. Working on soil leads to healthier water. You can’t go wrong by focusing on water, soil, or both.

Following is a compilation of some good articles and videos that have come into my inbox recently, about water and the water cycle.

I’ll also dig up some wonderful old standbys that I have often made reference to in my book and on this blog.

I would love for all city public-works employees and elected officials to see these.

New finds:

“West to get 1-2 more climate hits; Study: Wildfires, heavy downpours will become a frequent occurrence” (Seth Borenstein, Associated Press; in Daytona Beach News-Journal). “The one-two punch of nasty wildfires followed by heavy downpours, triggering flooding and mudslides, will strike the U.S. West far more often in a warming- hopped world, becoming a frequent occurrence, a new study said. That fire-flood combination, with extreme drenchings hitting a spot that burned within a year, could increase as much as eightfold in the Pacific Northwest, double in California and jump about 50% in Colorado by the year 2100 in a worst-case climate change scenario of increasing greenhouse gas emissions, according to a study in Friday’s Science Advances. The study said that as humancaused climate change intensifies, 90% of extreme fire events will be followed by at least three extraordinary downpours in the same location within five years.” (This article is written about the Western US but it really pertains to all of us. Cautionary tale of the direction we are headed in with mainstream approaches to development, water stewardship, land management.)

“Turning Cities into Sponges to Save Lives and Property” (Tatiana Schlossberg; nytimes.com). “Imagine a sponge. Swipe it over a wet surface and it will draw up water; squeeze it and the water will trickle out. Now imagine a city made of sponges, or spongelike surfaces, able to soak up rainwater, overflowing rivers or ocean storm surges and release stored water during droughts. Engineers, architects, urban planners and officials around the world are seeking ways to retrofit or reconstruct cities to better deal with water — basically, to act more like sponges. While water management has always been an essential service in cities, climate change, combined with urban expansion into wetlands and floodplains, is making flooding and drought worse at the same time.”

“Reviving Rivers, with Dr. Rajendra Singh” (YouTube video; Water Stories). “We are incredibly excited to release the trailer for our next film, Reviving Rivers. This film is about Dr. Rajendra Singh, also known as the Water Man of India. For three decades, he has helped thousands of villages build water retention features across rural Rajasthan. This work has led to the resurrection of rivers, the reversal of drought, increased rainfall, and water availability for more than 1 million people. This film tells the story of how that all came to be. You can watch the trailer now, by following the link below. The full film will be released on April 27th on the Water Stories Community.” Go here to subscribe to Water Stories YouTube channel and see the film when it comes out. They have many other excellent films as well.

“Hope in a World of Crisis: Decentralized Water Retention” (Water Stories). 11-minute video sums things up concisely. With beautiful, readily understandable animated graphics. This is where I learned that the water cycle is the biggest temperature-stabilizing mechanism on earth.

Wonderful old standbys:

“Planting the Rain to Grow Abundance” (YouTube video; Brad Landcaster). 17-minute TED talk summarizes key principles of rainwater harvesting, stormwater mitigation, rehydration of deserts. Along with being a deeply knowledgeable and incredibly entertaining speaker, Brad is author of the Rainwater Harvesting for Drylands and Beyond books. (Which I think of as “Rainwater Harvesting for ALL Lands.”) Brad’s website harvestingrainwater.com is packed with visuals and other resources. On a personal note, I actually HAVE done the thing he mentions in his video, running outside at 3am in my underwear to dance with joy when long-awaited rain starts falling and filling my rainbarrels.