Water…where does it come from? Where is it going? How do I live with it?
Before beginning any study of it is important to first recall what you already know about the subject and in the case of water I think it’s important to recall your memories of your experiences with water first. For me my experiences are many. Here are a few that stand out. What are yours?
Discovery…My first recollection of water was when I was about six years old and discovered a spring at Battery Kemble Park in Washington DC. I thought it was alive. I also thought it was magic that it could run under the road and appear as a creek on the other side. I became fascinated with its’ powers of erosion and spent hours watching its journey. Our favorite climbing rock had been uncovered by that magic and years later covered it up again.
I remember climbing a wild cherry tree in our side yard just before a thunderstorm and smelling the water in the air before the downpour began.
I remember the canals in DC and the Potomac River they took their water from. I remember the moraine that was scattered by the glacier on the river’s edge ions ago. Those were the best climbing rocks!
Lessons…My elementary school was also across the street from the reservoir where our drinking water came from. My questions were many and my father explained everything to my satisfaction. We moved to a house on a hill when I was ten and I was awed by the fact that the builders had tried to cover the stream that had run down the back yard. It was only diverted though into our neighbor’s basement. Later, when someone bought our house I heard that they had opened our old basement up by installing a door to the backyard where the creek had been and now wondered why their basement was flooded.
My father also told us that we would never buy a house in a flood plain. Come to find out that many builders and developers built there with dire consequences. I often wondered if they had paid attention in geography class or were they trying to rewrite our perceptions?
Sustenance…I remember drinking water to quench my thirst instead of juice.
As an adult living in the mountains of North Carolina I learned to fish in the fresh water streams. I heard tales of valleys being covered by water to bring electricity. With pipes frozen in the winter I remember cracking through the ice in the river to retrieve water.
Powerful…Living in San Francisco Bay on our sailboat I remember how hard it was to sail through the tumultuous Raccoon Straits where the incoming tide met the outgoing Sacramento River.
Florida brings loud and heavy rain. On Tuesday we measured 4.5 inches for the day!
Disaster…While living in Davis (floodplain) I remember many floods in the neighboring towns.
Renewal…In the hills above Davis I remember farmers and ranchers installing ponds to recharge the aquifer. I remember helping farmers plant drought tolerant plants along the banks of the canals to hold the soil along the banks. I followed their efforts to repair the riparian areas along the creeks that ran through their fields, bringing back beneficial insects and other wildlife.
Magic…While helping friends homestead in northern California, I remember when they had their property witched and found a spot to dig their well. They also looked for the trees that looked for the water and found it…the California Bay Laurel!
When we moved to an isolated property, we became very sensitive to the origin of our water, its purity, and its’ availability. Managing an organic farm, we also became very aware about our sewage and where it was going. We discovered marshes that helped to clean the water.
Living in Florida is quite an eye opener. With water all around us it is essential to learn about the ecosystems if we want to continue to have clean water, good fishing, and surround our homes with plants and animals.