Fort Collins Conservation District

Ron Neher

Water, - you use more than you think

By: Ron Neher, Natural Resources Conservation Service, Retired

Water, water, water! Is there even enough to go around? With just so much fresh water in this world, who gets first dibs, - and why.

Ever since populations started getting in the elbow-to-elbow concentrations, the decision to manage the use of water has evolved with ever increasing regulations. Today, depending where you live, your use and right to use water is governed in one fashion or another.

One thing which changes during certain times of the year is the demand and use of water. In our local area, not much irrigation occurs past the end of fall and into early spring. Spring is when water usage increases in somewhat dramatic fashion. Lawns, golf courses, city parks, and other vegetated areas, - not to mention local gardens, - begin using this natural resource with increased frequency and volume. And as can be expected, agriculture starts irrigation pumps and center pivot sprinklers to begin another year of crop production.

We all want to be first, - no matter what the issue. No one wants to show up at some type of event or venue with a line a mile long. And we all, anyway many of us, feel we have a better reason than the other guy to get our issue serviced first. No one wants to wait or be cut short of their “necessary” desire or supply no matter what the product. Getting your desired supply of water is no different.

Agriculture, specifically irrigated agriculture, seems like it is always the big fault in “using too much water.” I agree there are countless acres of irrigated cropland growing food in one form or another to satisfy the eating requirements of mankind. And, as supply and demand by people like you and I generate that need, the use of irrigation water will continue to serve the public.

One thing we need to understand is that our use of water includes much more than simple household usage. The products we buy and use, basically all of them, all take water to produce, - some obviously more than others. Take a look in your closet. How much water was used to produce your clothes in the factories? Your car, another necessary item in our lives, took an enormous amount of water to produce. And as time goes on the items we have increase in amounts. When I was a kid, I had two pair of shoes and one coat, - that has changed. Houses had one-car garages for the station wagon or none at all. Today, new home construction is demanding three-car garages as common as the increased development of golf courses and restaurants. Even the water bottle you buy your water in needs water to produce. The products and services we buy and use all take water for their manufacture or development. I guess it is simple to say that we demand and use water without even turning on the faucet, - simply by shopping, traveling, eating out, playing golf or other sports, or buying that new car.

So what is important when it comes to water? The answer is simple. Conservation of this valuable resource is of utmost importance. The Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) prioritizes the use of water as one of its main concerns regarding conservation of our natural resources. As new innovations in design for irrigation water distribution have arisen, the NRCS has promoted their usages. From renozzling center pivot sprinklers to not only low pressure but also more efficient nozzles, today’s acreages under irrigation use far less water than previous years where not only flood irrigation was more common, but also where center pivots were used under high pressure and with less efficient nozzles. Gated pipe, surge valves, and other improved items are also promoted in the agency’s desire to use less water in providing America and our trade countries with food.

Arguably, the two most important things in life for physical existence are water and air. It is ironic that many people just think of water as just something to drink; but, when you think of what all you have and use on a daily basis that needs water to make, it is obviously nothing to take lightly. Air, - now that’s another story.