Well, its rainy season and I can’t seem to escape this one central theme – it’s wet. The rainy season in Humboldt County has been much missed by the residents living here for the past few years of severe drought. Having moved from Texas where ongoing long-term drought punctuated by deadly flash-floods is a frequent issue, I feel I can relate to the issues faced by the people of California. Issues ranging from use and management, regulation, law, pollution, and shortage of water continue rising in prominence locally and internationally and it’s important that we keep an eye on these issues. Hopefully this will be the first of many water-resource related articles on this blog. This post will start small and local, as in here at Milewide Nursery, with a discussion of our water resources, including groundwater and rainwater, problems it can cause, and ways we can deal with them.
A resource we have access to year around is our well water which we can pump to fill our various water tanks for anything we need. in addition to the well, we have several natural springs where water seeps out from the water table. Sometimes it can be difficult to maintain as the flow of the water from the open spring can easily become obstructed. Regular cleaning and maintenance are a must and the natural flow of water can be saved in various water storage tanks for times of drought.
For the past six months, the spring has been constantly feeding a small stream of water into our newest water feature: the pond.
The Pond has become a favorite feature here for swimming, nature watching, and general peaceful enjoyment. However, this rainy season has shown us that far too much sediment is running into our new pond and that something must be done to keep silt accumulation after every rain to a sustainable level. The newly dug rainwater ditch was sown with grass seed and a plastic sheet silt barrier put across to slow the water and hopefully catch silt. Once the vegetation takes hold, the silt will have a harder time rushing into the pond. A lot of the sediment washing into the pond comes from the road, and we often have to dig thick silt out of the drainage ditches.
One of our 50,000 gallon tanks, which provides both drinking water and the water to nurture all of our various planties, is also a rainwater collection tank. Like the spring and just about anything else on the farm, it needs frequent maintenance…Usually involving hauling a heavy ladder, in the rain, uphill to the rain tank and cursing loudly to yourself as you wonder why you didn’t clean the rain gutters before it started raining.
Another point of interest on our little slice out here is the creek, little more than a moist trickle in times of drought, and an unstoppable force that scours the valley, tosses boulders, and redraws the geography of our land during flood events. While it’s not a water resource that we are currently tapped into, we necessarily view the creek as a valuable resource to be protected. If we wish to keep using the waters to swim and enjoy on nature hikes, we must do everything we can to prevent runoff of both chemicals and sedimentation into this waterway.
I know, I know, you’re thinking “this article can’t possibly be wrapping up!”. Just take away a couple things from this post. First, if you have water resources on your property, give them frequent attention. A rainwater tank with a clogged gutter is just an empty tank. An open spring that’s spilling its water on the ground instead of flowing into a pond or tank is a travesty, one that can be prevented here by taking out a few scoopfuls of dirt and leaves. If you plan on building yourself a handy dandy little pond, make sure you take measures to minimize runoff deposits into it. Learn to relish the idea of regular dredging of smelly, slimy, salamander laden mud. Last, I invite you, the reader, to look forward to future posts about water resources.
– Joe Kelliher