(A series of blog posts on the 5 basic human needs and how we can transition away from our current model of exploitation, extraction, and fossil fuel based systems.)
Water is the element that connects all living beings on the planet. Everything needs water. Water is a beautiful thing, hydrating, cleansing, hypnotic, carrier of energies and nutrient. The trickle sound of a creek or raindrops on a metal roof sending our minds into a peaceful place. As a society our access to clean water is under attack. Corporations wishing to control the one thing that we all need, pollution from farms and factories, mismanagement of the resource by cities, states and countries. These problems have very simple solutions that can be met, only if we the people choose to break free of the system that dictates how we live, and take control of our resource, at a micro-level.
The largest issue to water management is the massive scale that current models use to transport water to areas that are naturally very dry. Currently, energy used to push water up hill, is the single largest draw on a municipal electrical grid. Millions of gallons of water are needed to keep cities operating, and for high elevation, arid areas. This is a not an appropriate use of energy. As energy gets more expensive, so will the cost of delivering water to these cities, raising taxes and lowering the citizens standard of living. This will eventually cause the decline of said cities, Bad design, bad outcome. Even grid water systems that rely on gravity are not ideal. Often these systems, such as in California, are open air canals that move the water in man made rivers of concrete or earth. Exposed to the sun, evaporation takes place. Because of this, the water becomes higher in minerals, by volume and adds to the salting of irrigated agricultural land. Salted soil quickly becomes inhospitable to plants. This leads to desertified landscapes, unable to support any living creatures.
To reduce the energy consumption in moving water, we need to reduce usage dramatically. Low flow shower heads, toilets, faucets and washing machines designed to use less water are green washing marketing techniques by the manufactures. A ten minute shower is still a ten minute shower, regardless of how much water is used. I believe we need to drastically change our perception and expectations of water, especially in areas that are prone to drought, and where the water must come from pipes hundreds, if not thousands of kilometers away. Flushing clean drinking water down a pipe is absurd. We could encourage the use of composting toilets. Poop, sawdust and time makes soil. Big win for all. There is no reason that our waste can't be turned into a resource. Instead of showering or bathing, a better model would be either sponge bathing, or using natural water ways if available. A living pond in the backyard would be a perfect option for bathing in the warmer months. We are much to concerned with cleanliness in the west. Afraid to smell like a human. I hear of people having multiple showers a day makes me ill. Why? If you work hard, get sweaty, and dirty, it is very possible to clean well using only a fraction of the water. I have given up using shampoo in my hair, and guess what? My hair doesn't smell! A little soap on my pits and bits, a quick rinse in the shower is all I need. I believe that if we all embraced our humaness, we would be less worried about being so clean all the time.
We have options for gaining control of our own water resources. Rainwater capture is the best one. A proper design, with first flush diverters, wise use of gravity, appropriate roofing materials, and strict conservation, most areas of the world could be water independent. The governments of this planet do not want this to happen however, since that takes away their control of the machine. Many places have rules about rainwater capture, which is ludicrous. Millions of acres of roofing on this planet that could all be transitioned to rainwater capturing systems. The idea of water piped to faucets and toilets on demand needs to be re-thought. Walking outside and filling a vessel with water from your backyard wouldn't be that bad of a thing.
Running rainwater away from the earth it lands on is also leading to desertification and making fragile lands more brittle. De-forestation also contributes to this problem. Rainwater, as well as grey water should be soaked into the soil, to recharge aquifers and allow for proper trans-expiration. Trees are water pumps, sucking water from the soil and releasing it to the air in the dry times. This is natures way of cycling water in a closed loop. Without a balanced lens of water in the soil, the water is sucked from the trees, causing the tree much distress, and can kill the tree. New streets and neighborhoods could be designed on contour with an emphasis on slowing and soaking the rainfall, rather than running it directly to a larger body of water. If rainwater was captured and stored on site, that would greatly reduce the impact on municipal storm water systems, lengthening their lives and cutting cost of utilities improvements. Slowing and soaking rainwater is a wise technique for all farmers as well. The pumping of fossil waters from aquifers will cause major issues with our food security in the future. Farmers using appropriate water smart designs, like Key-Line, no till, mulching, heavy compost, and bio-char can reduce their water input needs immensely.
We are rapidly approaching a time when our resource exploitation can not be ignored any longer. We must transition to a regenerative system to avoid devastating effects of climate shifts, growing police states, income inequality, corporate control of our food and medicine, and a reliance on a debt based economic system that makes financial slaves of us all. Collectively our society has been led on path of lies and destruction, fueled by dis-satisfaction, boredom, addiction, and indoctrination. We can mulch our own way to a future where we all live in abundance, regeneration and simplicity, with smart design and paradigm shifts.