When backpacking the John Muir trail with some great friends I remember how critical water management was for us. We were packing lightly, covering the trail with backpacks weighing in a 40 pounds or so. Included in these weigh savings was reduced water storage capacity. We moved from creek to creek, calculating what we needed to filter, drink or carry for how long. Water defined our journey in a quietly critical way.
In an on-demand world, I can’t help but think that we take our water resources for granted. At home, I know I do. I open the tap and suddenly there is fresh, clean drinkable water. It flows endlessly. It has never crossed my mind that the tap would suddenly stop flowing.
What if it did? What if we had a weekly allowance, and when we eclipsed it, the river would run dry until the following Monday. Maybe even Garfield would start looking forward to Monday!
In a time of drought in California, I still see neighbors washing their cars daily, lawns being watered by automatic sprinklers during downpours, and taps left running, unattended. I believe that we aren’t connected to the source. That great water jug in the sky that pours when we need it.
Conservation is about how do we reconnect people with not only the source, but the tradeoffs of water use. God didn’t put water here for you, he put it here for all of us – salmon, herring, salamanders, osprey, reeds, cordgrass, vernal pools and waterfalls, as well as humans. The more we unconsciously consume, the more we steal away from all of life. Although drought does impact some businesses critically (like agriculture), for many of us, we have a choice to do better. To get in sync with natural cycles is to thrive.
These cycles are healthy – both wet years and dry years are part of life.
Here’s to water in a time of drought. From a wonderfully right creek in Glacier National Park, this water does run unfettered and stirs my imagination about water in a time of drought, our responsibility, and our legacy. Whether it be dry or wet, or kinda in between, it is this awareness that creates beauty. I hope you enjoy it.