The severe drought currently cursing Mexico has not spared the northern state of Chihuahua. The drought has already cost farmers more than a billion dollars in crop losses alone and set back the national cattle herd for years, reports Reuters. Experts say this is only the beginning, that Mexico faces a drier future.
The grant we’ve received from the Border Environmental Cooperation Commission allowed us to bring a regional expert on water conservation to Palomas this month. Van Clothier, a certified water harvester, taught us about rainwater harvesting and graywater reuse possibilities for Palomas buildings. Van is the author of Let the Water Do the Work: Induced Meandering and owns Stream Dynamics, Inc., a watershed restoration business located in Silver City, New Mexico.
Van’s expertise helped us assess the suitability from among several houses for the graywater re-use systems we’ll be constructing. He also helped our team evaluate the entire block of property that houses the public library and the funeral building the town has allowed Border Partners use to house our woodworking shop. His consultation is a prelude to setting up rainwater harvesting and shaping the land so that the water flows to the trees on the property.
Van suggested some simple ways to form what amount to rainwater gardens. We’ll construct depressions in the land to catch rainwater flow. Plants can then grow around the perimeter of these rainwater basins. Alternatively, a tree can anchor the central position in the rainwater garden if it’s established so as to protect the root ball.
An added bonus is that the BECC grant will enable us to hire several people from Palomas to work on the project. This gives the town a boost economically and is a welcome income source for local families.
Van Clothier gave us lots of ideas and, best of all, we learned that some of what we want to accomplish will be simpler and less expensive than we originally thought. That’s priceless information as we prepare for more dry years to come.