Two years ago, we dedicated an entire issue of The Leopold Outlook magazine to water. We examined the reality that while water may seem a limitless resource, communities all over the globe were beginning to feel the impacts of the reality that, in fact, clean, fresh water is most certainly not limitless. It seems in two years, not much has changed.
Later this year, Cape Town, South Africa will face “Day Zero,” when the city will shut off the water to nearly 4 million people because the reservoirs are running dry. Even strict water rationing hasn’t helped much, only delaying “Day Zero” by two or three months, now predicted for mid-July.
Cities like Sao Paola, Mexico City, Melbourne, and Jakarta have all experienced either temporary water crises or are predicting similar doomsday events like Cape Town’s. Here in our own country, years of extreme drought are wreaking havoc on ecosystems and drying up freshwater reserves in the American West.
Even in a water-rich state like Wisconsin, water woes capture the headlines as municipalities and companies outside the Great Lakes Basin petition to draw water from the world’s largest freshwater lakes because their rate of water usage is drawing down the underground aquifers to dangerous levels. In Central Wisconsin, high capacity wells used in agriculture are being blamed for drawing down nearby lake levels, some to mere puddles. And yet, even in places where providing drinking water to residents doesn’t seem to be an issue, contamination – manure seeping through a karst topography into groundwater, polluted runoff, or lead pipes – is an issue.
And so, on this World Water Day, we take a moment to dwell on the importance of water, remember the ways in which it connects us all, and celebrate its generative qualities. We dug through the blog archives to round-up our favorite water-themed articles for your reading pleasure. Enjoy and share your personal water stories with us!
“There is no such thing as conserving life without conserving soil and water also.”
-Aldo Leopold, “How Research and Game Surveys Help the Sportsman and Farmer,” 1933
Respecting Our Water: the Leopold Outlook Water Issue
The Spring 2016 issue featured water. Read the introduction (includes some great video links) or click to preview an abbreviated electronic copy of the magazine.
Learning Water’s True Value in Guatemala
After traveling to Guatemala, author Madeline Fisher shares the transformative effects of a community project that brought water to the remote village of Tzay.
A Single Landscape, from Baraboo to Bangladesh: Land Ethics, Water, and Climate Change
Water links us in a single landscape from Baraboo to Bangladesh. Kristin Alana Baum compares Wisconsin’s freshwater resources to Bangladesh and considers how we can learn from this connection.
Napoleon, the Crow and Wash Basin Baptisms: Water Adventures with the Leopolds
The Leopold Memorial Reserve is a watery domain. Since 1935, Leopolds have swam and paddled in the Wisconsin River, observed and tracked migratory birds in and out of the expansive wetlands and pumped water from the aquifer that lies just a few feet below Levee Road and the Shack. Granddaughter of Aldo, Trish Stevenson, tells of family memories.
Dreams of Water Bodies / Nibii-wiiyawan Bawaadanan
Read a lovely Anishinaabe translation of Wisconsin poet Laureate Kimberly Blaeser’s poem “Dreams of Water Bodies.”
Luna Leopold: A Visionary in Water Resource Management
Former education fellow, Greg Hitch, pays tribute to Aldo Leopold’s son Luna and his groundbreaking research on water resources.
Lessons from Coon Valley: The Importance of Collaboration in Watershed Management
Also from Greg Hitch, a review of Aldo Leopold’s critical role in addressing water quality and soil erosion with the first watershed scale project by engaging the entire community in Coon Valley, Wisconsin.
Feature photo, top, courtesy of Berit Watkin / CC by 2.0.
What’s your water story? Share it with us below!