I just returned from a late winter mountaineering trip to Durango, Colorado where snow abounds and the locale’s high-desert-arid ways were seasonally hidden from sight. And though my main focus was simply to make it off of the high peaks in one piece, I couldn’t help but aim my attention to the sheer amount of snow on the ground and, thus, the flowing rivers and creeks all around us. What a stark contrast to the thirsty low deserts of Arizona. And though we are regional neighbors, I suddenly felt what could only be described as an age-old territorial rivalry – that for the single most precious resource on earth –water.
So when I returned home, to the warm winter splendor of Tucson, I took note of all of the ways that the Sonoran Desert has prospered from one millennia to the next in the face of sustained climatic harshness. What struck me most, however, was the unfortunate human variable and just how much water we waste every single day in this place that has so little of it to spare.
Do we really need to leave the bathroom tap open and free-flowing while we brush our teeth?
To add to my already-burgeoning guilt regarding humanity’s lack of natural resource management, the industry in which I work is culpable for some of the most egregious water gaffes of all. Oftentimes, landscapes consume upwards of half of all household water. So what to do about it? Should we live in a world with bone dry and unsightly landscapes? Not at all. Do we need to get rid of grass and swimming pools all together? Definitely not. What really needs to happen is that we must recognize that it's the 21st century and technology is on our side. Smart irrigation controllers, systems that monitor water usage, efficient sprinkler systems, access to unique arid-adapted plant material, viable synthetic lawn alternatives and a profusion of water harvesting techniques are readily available and actually quite sophisticated.
Now if we could only convince the human race as a whole to catch up to those technological advances – imagine what magnificence could be realized.