Water…we ALL need it
What do all living things have in common? They must have water to keep living! Having access to clean water, I believe is something most American’s take for granted. It is easy to forget that it is not something that we can remake, or something that will last forever. The amount of water we have here today is all we have, it changes forms yes, but we are not getting anymore of it. Colorado as well as the United State’s population is growing everyday which creates more needs for water.
There are many things that happen every day that use water. People showering in their homes, washing the dishes, watering their lawns, farmers watering their crops and livestock, oil and gas companies, and so many industrial uses as well. Like most of you probably, I do these things daily without even thinking about it. I never question if the water will turn on, if I will be able to wash my plate after dinner, or something as simple has have a clean glass of water. The reality is, if we aren’t careful or take precaution now this might be a worry for people sooner than later!
For most of us agriculture is a big part of our life one way or another, whether that be directly or indirectly. For some of us it makes up our livelihood, others because we have food on the table each day, and everything in between. That food on your dinner table would not be possible if farmers and ranchers didn’t have the water they need to water their crops and livestock.
I drive by farms every day to and from work and I see the water running through the ditches, sprinklers going, and crops growing. However, I forget that this is not something that just happens. I have been involved in Agriculture my whole life, and I still forget that by the time water does make it to the field many things have happened to get it there. According to the United States Department of Agriculture, “agriculture is a major user of ground and surface water in the United States, accounting for approximately 80 percent of the Nation’s consumptive water use and over 90 percent in many Western States.”
I believe most people understand crops and livestock need water to grow, but not everyone knows the process or the obstacles along the way. Population growth brings concern to the agriculture industry. Not only is the demand for clean, safe food growing, but more houses are being built. The more people there are the more of a demand for water. Like I said before, we can’t make “new” water. The water needed for the municipality uses must come from somewhere, and some believe that it should be from the agriculture industry.
Another major issue for agriculture is losing land and water! The transfer of water rights when agricultural land is changed to municipal or industrial use, this not only creates less land for farmers or ranchers, it also changes that water use. Therefore, it can no longer be used for irrigation or any other ag use. Farm land is also being converted to dryland. This process consists of the water rights on the land being sold to other industries and changed to a non-agriculture use, leaving the land empty and without water rights. “According to the Agriculture Census, between 2007 and 2012, Weld County lost on average 26,445 acres of agricultural land per year. In that time, Larimer County lost on average 7,886 acres per year. Agricultural land includes both farmland and ranchland.” With farmland being lost this brings more strain on farmers to produce their crop. We all know that without water farmers cannot produce their crops, and without those crops there is not the food we need.
With water being such an important resource for so many different industries, it is something that we need to be more aware of. We are all guilty of it I am sure, but we need to remember that fresh clean water is not something to take for granted, no matter the industry. There are a lot of simple things we can all do every day to do our part in conserving that liquid gold. Some great ideas from Care2.com are turn off the tap while brushing your teeth, shrink your lawn, and don’t run the dishwasher or washing machine until it’s full. Clean water is something we ALL need for so many different reasons, so the next time you are watering your lawn or washing dishes think a little bit about what you can do to help keep this great resource as something we don’t have to fight for!