26 April 2011
Visualizing Drought and Draw
I keep a keen eye on my water use - not because of the cost, per se, but because it is a precious, limited resource in this world and especially in our Central Texas environment. Much of my decision-making regarding plants is impacted by whether or not the plant is native or adapted to drought and/or crazy fluxes in amounts of water over time.
I don't want to have to provide supplemental water, but I do. I think it's one of the greatest struggles that I have. I want to have a garden. I want to support plants and wildlife. And even though I don't have a lawn and use drought-tolerant plants, I still have to water. Or do I?
I suppose I could just let things be. Let them turn brown. Let those plants come back that will when the rain comes back. But then, there is that huge investment in design and cash that we've put into these plants, just to let them whither away and die?
John made a great point to me the other day about one of the consequences we have of living, almost literally, on the edge of the desert - in that narrow transition zone between the lush Gulf environment and the drier west. It's a border that is always in flux over time; the desert pushing forward some years (or centuries) and the prairies pushing back in others. Plants and natural ecosystems come and go, shift and change, but we don't want our gardens to do that. We want to control them, and we strive for managed change. It ain't easy, and maybe it's just wrong.
The visualization below shows our Austin area rainfall (in inches) versus our water use (in thousands of gallons) for March in 2009, 2010 and 2011. We are having a very dry year, and you can see that there is not much water coming in, but a lot of water moving out of the system, as I try to keep things alive. Sad.
What is a gardener to do? Does anyone else out there struggle with this issue? How do you feel when you turn on the faucet and let fly that water?