The Life Cycle of Water

It’s been a long time since I thought of Dutch puck disease, but I read a news article this morning that jogged my memory, so I’ll tell you about it.

Dutch Puck Disease: From Beetle to Humbug

Back in the early 70s most Canadians had heard of the invasion of an elm bark beetle and the fungal infection, Dutch Elm disease, that was devastating our elm population. Cities were doing what they could to protect their beautiful shade trees, sadly, without much success.

Around 1972 some wit at the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation got the idea to do a send-up on the story and the idea went over. So they made a mini documentary about the dreaded “Dutch puck disease” destroying Canada’s hockey-puck producing trees.

A narrator warned that this posed a dire threat to Canada’s favorite sport. Cameras showed scenes of devastation: shriveled and deformed hockey pucks hanging from the branches of wasted-looking trees. They even persuaded hockey great, Bobby Orr, to give an interview about the scourge. He almost managed a straight face as he said, “This is terrible! I can’t score goals if there are no pucks.”

They filmed a few man-on-the-street interviews, including one of an incredulous young lady exclaiming, “They do?! Hockey pucks grow on trees?”

From Spring to Bottle:
Big companies process for profit.

Apparently conservationists are trying to stop the Swiss company, Nestlé, from draining some California streams to bottle water. Protesters claim the giant Swiss corporation is actually drying up creeks by taking so much water out and making huge profits selling it back as bottled water.

There’s likely reason for concern, but one needs to exercise care to get the whole picture, not just the attention-grabbing headline. A person could make the same case against farmers irrigating crops. All summer long, “big corporate farms” draw water from the underground supply, pay next-to-nothing for it, irrigate their crops, sell their produce “pre-packaged” to consumers in the form of veggies, and pocket the profits. All the while, you could argue, depleting the nation’s underground water supply. Nestlé is accused of taking water from the streams, paying nothing for it, bottling and selling it as “safe pure water,” and pocketing the profits. The question is being asked: “Is this a crime, or is it business?”

As with Dutch Puck Disease, headlines, news stories, and especially documentaries can be manipulated to sound sensationally dire and point fingers. And people can be gullible: “If it’s on the news it must be true.” However, readers need to examine the facts carefully and ponder the validity of statements like the following:
“At its current pace, the world will run out of freshwater before oil,” Brabeck said. Apparently Brabeck is suggesting “privatization” as a possible answer.

Private companies — or the government? What blessings or woes would privatization bring? Communism was supposed to be wonderful, too.

People here in North America are very concerned about the environment and it’s so easy to raise a scare story. But let’s consider the logistics behind our water supply (the sky) and the possibility of drying up springs, streams and rivers.

We can’t squeeze more prehistoric animals to produce more oil, but water’s a different kettle of fish. I’m thinking the world will “run out” of fresh water when the clouds stop dumping it on us.

You can syphon off water at its source so the folks downstream get almost none. You can dam a flowing water source and even change its course so one area gets a stream and another area gets none. But mankind has not yet been able to dry up the clouds.

From Gush to Flush: The Life Cycle of Water

Every day the sun draws zillions of tons of water vapor from the ocean, lakes, rivers, etc. If we could shut off the sun we could prevent all this water vapor loss. But…

By some miraculous process, this vapor gathers into clouds that drift across the earth’s surface and, at a given signal, pour their contents wherever they happen to be. Drizzle, rain, hail, spit or snow it down on us. Topography, like mountain ranges, and a cooler land mass (as in hurricanes) influence where the clouds will empty out. However, in the past human attempts to redirect rainfall to dry areas (cloud seeding) have often met with grief.

A free gift from heaven, precipitation falls where it wills. It fills mountain streams, rivers, lakes, soaks into the land, replenishes underground springs. Water is absorbed by tree roots and drawn up into leaves that give off water vapor. Farmers draw from underground aquifers to irrigate their land. Cities draw water from said sources and people use it.

We water our gardens and lawns and the water is drawn up through plant roots and later evaporated by the wind. Thus it finds its way back into the cycle. As we hoe the garden or mow the lawn we sweat, and the breeze dries us off, whisking the moisture into the atmosphere to rejoin some cloud somewhere. Just think where all your sweat may travel.

People drink the water, replenish their cells, and urinate the excess. Our bodies are an amazing filtration system. Whether bottled water, tap water, or beverage, we drink it, filter it, and flush it. Really, we should should all do our part and drink lots so we can put more water back into the recycling system. 🙂

Conserve Water: Don’t Bathe

Just think. Every morning all across the continent people use zillions of tons of water to shower and bathe. My washing machine is chugging away as I write this. If we’d stop all this bathing and laundry we’d waste so much less water.

Thankfully, water is never used up. Household water runs down the drain, into the city’s waste disposal system, and — hopefully filtered — back into the rivers and reservoirs. Directly or indirectly it finds its way back into the ocean to begin another cycle of evaporation and precipitation.

We need to treat all natural systems with care, including our water sources, but conservationists shouldn’t resort to fear tactics. Big corporations may well be greedy; it kind-of goes with the territory. Bottling companies make a mega-buck profit selling their goods, and some may be diverting some streams, but they don’t actually destroy the water.

The company can’t keep taking water that isn’t there. If there’s no water in said streams, it’s more likely because there hasn’t been sufficient rainfall in that area to replenish them. At this time the folks in southern Quebec would gladly share theirs, but alas! We’ve not yet found a way to redirect clouds.

In my understanding, the system of evaporation and precipitation was in place when man arrived and will continue to replenish the springs, streams, lakes, and rivers until the end of time. We can dam it, redirect it, and pollute the “container,” but we can’t use it up.

Hockey pucks don’t grow on trees, either. The game goes on.

8 thoughts on “The Life Cycle of Water

  1. You make some interesting… and sensible… points. I had heard about the diminishing levels in the central aquifers which is causing some concern. Though I agree, rain falls where rain falls, and ever will, as I understand it the reserve in that huge aquifer dates to Ice Age and beyond, and will not be so readily replaced. Answer, grow crops that don’t need such levels of irrigation.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thanks for your comment. Although I’m no expert when it comes to underground water, my thoughts go in several directions in response to your comment.

    First off, those aquifers must have been replenished since the 1930s, when lack of rainfall for ten years would have made a big impact. At least the only source of water to fill them is precipitation. (It’s really interesting that all the stats from the 1930s are being excluded from current data compilations.)

    Second, when the Red River Valley’s in flood stage, as far as the eye can see the land is one big lake. North Dakota and Manitoba experience frequent massive flooding; farmers where we used to live have built dykes around their yards to keep from being inundated; every 4-5 years they spend a week or two living in the middle of a lake. On that flat land the water either goes up or down, so I suppose quite a bit of it is refilling the underground reservoir.

    Third, it seems conservationists talk both ways. One time someone’s saying our freshwater supply is in major peril; the next we hear hurricanes and other storms are increasing in frequency. Most of the rain from hurricanes finds its way back to the ocean, wreaking havoc en route, but some must be soaking down.

    Getting the rain where its needed has always been a problem, but according to environmentalists, we’ll be getting a lot more of it. Maybe the US needs to dig more reservoirs.

    There are folks I know who believe this whole climate change is more of a political movement than an environmental one. Data-control by a particular group of thinkers who want everyone to view things as they do and accept their solution. I can’t say, but if this is really true, it’s nothing new.

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    1. Thanks for your comment, Keith. If things get really touch, you could buy bottled water — from California — to dilute your six-o-clock shot. 🙂

      My thoughts aren’t so much “well researched” as well ruminated. And I may be way off, but I’ve sprung from dry prairie soil and here in Sask we’ve seen it all when it comes to wet and dry. Our Panic Button is worn out. 😉

      When the Canadian govt first promoted the prairies, hoping to attract settlers, the ad writers were forbidden any reference to the climate being “cold” or “dry.” Not much has changed. We’ve seen wild variations, water rationing some summers, flooded fields in July, late spring frosts, early frosts in fall, mild and bitterly cold winters. The Great Depression taught some hard lessons; farmers have gotten smarter to cope with the lack of precipitation.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. That’s so interesting Christine. We do get extremes of weather here, but nothing like that. Yesterday we suffered gales and waves were crashing up the beach. Today it is as still as a mill pool. That I can cope with!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I guess it’s what you get used to. We don’t have the ocean affecting our climate — for which we’re very thankful — but the Rockies have an impact on prairie weather. Sea air hits the mountain barrier and dumps its moisture on the coastal plain, then the dry air risesg over the mountains and descends, sending warm dry chinook winds across southern Alberta and partly into SK.

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