Posted by Dorrie Woodward on January 15, 2007, 11:37 am
Again, dear friends, neighbours and co-gringos;|
I want to talk more about how we can be here, living in this endangered habitat, and do it in a sustainable way. Given a choice, I think we all would want the health and beauty of this bay to continue, and to know that we are contributing to it's well being. Knowing this eases the heart, I find. Many of us search for personal ways to give because we want to be a beneficial part of the whole shebang. I am full of respect and admiration when I see those acts, large and small.
So here's the news... at least it's news for me: the main 2 wells in this area, which we and El Tamarindo rely on, are both slightly saline. Didn't used to be. What does this mean? It means the wells are not recharging fast enough to compensate for the amount of water pulled out and so are drawing sea water into the aquifer. Once an aquifer has salt in it you can drill anywhere in the same area, and all the wells will have the same saline content. If we're drawing in sea water now, and we're growing like crazy, we are in deep deep trouble folks.
Think of the warming, drying trend we are in, with one year in 8 having substantial rains. Etc etc. Think of the new resort on the Hill above the Bay. Think new sewer system dependent on water, expanding with each new house. Think if we ever got a small hospital here.
Everyone else nearby will be experiencing the same problem, and will be unlikely to share their water, if they could.
If we start buying water supplied by trucks, the resentment of those who have limited means, and must use it on a resource that should have been preserved and shared equally will, shall I say , "spoil the ambience."
Who is my source for this information? The professors from the University of Nevada, here doing an ongoing study of the mangroves, and monitoring all the water sources in the area, including the wells, the arroyo pools and so on.
The U. of N folks come here every 3 months, doing field work as part of an ongoing study of the mangrove/lagoon complex. They've been coming for about 3 years,and they'll be here again in March.
Anyway, anyway, I think this takes us back to our conversations about supporting a community planning process... one that we may not be part of as members of a leadership group, but as a respectful lobby, advocating approaches which may conserve water, forest cover or other things that will sustain the capacity of the watershed.
BUT FIRST we have to do some of this ourselves, my friends: let's get the motes out of our own eyes! No use suggesting people stop watering the streets, for example, when we use hundreds of litres of water on our gardens! We have to think about drip/sweat irrigation, native plantings,planting ground covers and more shade instead of lawns and so on. You can't have a garden using salty water, right? If the rains don't flush out the salts they just keep accumulating until...you've got Carthage, or California.
The farmers here have the same problem growing tomatoes, bananas and papayas. Many use drip irrigation.
This gardening rif is only a small example. An analyses of how we use water, whether it could be re-used once, twice, or even continually is about due. Capturing water in a cistern, for use for swimming pools and other luxuries would be a way to avoid drawing down water needed for necessities in the community. And a way to promote trust in the wider problem solving process of how we share a limited resource.
I think all of us here have interests in common: we want the town to flourish, therefore we have to make our limited resources go further rather than foul our future with brackish water and blame about who were the ones who didn't make the right rules, or didn't follow them, who took "too much", who didn't share, who got the short end of the stick. (We already can guess who those folks are : the poor, and the wild places)
" NO RULES!" was one of the responses that came up when I submitted my earlier message, "News from the Forest" Jan 1.
I think this may come from an anti-authoritarian place, which makes sense to me, given how many authorities abuse power, and in minor situations drive us mad with their pettiness and contolling ways.
I've been thinking, though, that rules can also reflect the learning we've acquired from the experience of living together in groups, and from coming smack up against realities like GRAVITY, and other LAWS OF NATURE.
For example: don't dig your well down hill from your outhouse. Not rocket science, a good rule...save alot of folks from learning the hard way, tho' on the other hand, it might eliminate alot of inobservant types from the gene pool, tho probably not before we all got sick.
Here,in La Manzanilla, now, we are up against a Law of Nature: one we also call "carrying capacity". We are moving beyond the ability of this ecosystem, what remains of it, to supply us with quality water.
What got us here? Many many things, which together create an effect over time, but can also be reversed or ameliorated somewhat. Alot of trees on the hills behind us and around us were cut, and the hills burned for cow pasture: a program for the Ejidos, promoted in the past by the federal government. We also cut trees and ground cover, knocked off the soils which absorb water when we build our houses. We too have been, on the whole, careless of the consequences of building on steep slopes; the erosion of soils, the increase in ground temperatures, the creation of runoff shutes, all contribute to why the water doesn't go DOWN into the water table and hence into the acquifer. Instead it goes OFF, on the surface, taking the soils with it, in a feed back loop that intensifies the damage, and loss of water to the acquifer.
The temperature increases of the hills matter because moisture laden air rises OVER hot hills, and then we don't get the rain. So we exacerbate the effects of the drought/global warming.
How else did we come to this pass? We plugged our first world demands for water into a sub-tropical third world system. And there was no one to stop us. "No Rules" (Perhaps we all like the "no rules" when the rule we really go by is: "my way".)
Reforestation comes to mind, and now the federal government will pay those same farmers to give up their livestock, and plant trees. As well,CONAFOR, the equivalent to a federal ministry of forests, will pay @$300/hectare/year to land owners for "ecological services" to the downstream users: meaning for keeping forest cover and preserving the capacity of the watershed for all of us. What I like is that it also protects more habitat for animals and plants, so everyone benefits.
OK, OK, I'm almost outa here... here we run up another BIG BIG problem: the one I've been grappling with lately. Some landowners in the watershed are being offered alot of money to sell their land to northerners/ developers, like @ $30,000usd/hectare, up from $12,000 a month ago, and $3000/h four years ago. Who would want a pidly $300/h for ecological services? And who would pay $30,000/h and not develop their "investment" to make more money? Meaning put in roads, power, clear land for buildings...in short, #### up the watershed bigtime.
Who's gonna go for reforestation even though we need it more than ever??
Ah, there is the rub: another LAW OF NATURE: EVERYTHING IS CONNECTED. No matter what anyone wants to believe, or calls it,(an investment, my money, my right as owner, my private business, my land)development in the watershed will still cause a loss of capacity to the acquifer, and the pumps will simply CONTINUE to draw more salt water into our community's wells. A very clear example of our connection to those distant hills out there.
YES,this law extends to us,too, and we all bear the consequences of ignoring this reality, with all its manifestations. True, we can sell our land, and get out before the shit(salt) hits the fan. We can pretend to be on holiday, go north in a month or two. Or...get a bloody grip, and start being a part of the community and the ecosystem that must contend with our inflationary first world demands, and start thinking long term, and stop waiting for some one to push us into acknowledging what we already know in our hearts.
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