Water Conservation by Byron Chitwood
Right now, it’s anybody’s guess as to whether we are in the beginning, middle or nearing the end of an extended drought. If I had to, I would guess that we will experience chronic water problems from now on. We have some factors that contribute to the shortage of one of our most precious resources. Thus, we should learn to use what we have more frugally.
There are many reasons for water shortages and I will go into some of them. First, this country has grown to more than three times the population when I was a wee kid. Second, we use more water per capita than ever. Everybody likes a nice green lawn with plenty of bushes, flower beds and trees. All of them take water. Third, most water supplies such as lakes have limited capacity and they are gradually losing some of that capacity due to silting. Fourth, very few lakes are being built. The permitting process is a very lengthy one involving governments, legal entanglements, environmental concerns and lack of good available sites to build dams and lakes. A prime example of the time it takes to build a lake is the proposed Bois de Arc Lake near Bonham. I attended a Rotary meeting in Bonham about five years ago and the program was all about the proposed lake. It was stated that the project was very near to starting. One old timer in the room made the comment that he moved to Bonham fifty years ago and that same statement was being made then.
Therefore, we must “use what we got” to conserve what “we got”. If you are a vegetable gardener, try to time when to plant seeds by listening to weather forecasts. If you can get seeds in the ground the day before a rain or shower, the seeds will more than likely germinate before the next rain. Do not let the soil get dry before the seeds have germinated. The best way to water at this stage of the seed germination if it doesn’t rain is do what I refer to as survival watering. Just hand water to keep the soil moist enough to get the plants started. All the experts say to only water once per week and then water enough to equal a one inch rain. However, if your soil has had a lot of organic material into it, it will not hold water for a week, especially if the weather is hot. Just hand water when the soil needs it or the plants are showing a little stress. When the plants have grown a few inches tall, mulch with shredded leaves, newspaper or some other organic material. This will conserve water since evaporation will be reduced. Also, the organic material will eventually compost and add to the enrichment of the soil. Watch for signs of nitrogen deficiency of your plants since the organic material will rob some nitrogen from the soil while composting. Use high nitrogen, slow release fertilizer that will only need to be applied once during the growing cycle.
Select plants for the landscape that require little water. Also, raise the blade of your lawnmower that will help conserve water. There are brochures at your local AgriLife headquarters that will help you make selections. Spend a few bucks on a rainwater harvesting system. Conserve what we got.