BECC Grant to Border Partners will conserve water, grow crops in Palomas

water conservation

Grant conserves desert water. Photo: Microsoft Images.

Border Partners received a grant for  $10,000 from the Border Environment Cooperation Commission last week. This is exciting news to our fledgling organization, as it is the largest single grant award we’ve received to date.

The funding will allow us to build graywater reuse systems and rainwater harvesting systems in Palomas. We’ll be able to install systems at 15 residential homes and also at the public library this year.

Along with this project, the BECC grant will fund the construction of a model bathroom that will demonstrate water-saving technologies appropriate for the desert environment.  The model will include a system to reuse the residential graywater–drainage from the sink–on a garden. It will also utilize solar hot-water heaters.

from the BECC website:

U.S.-Mexico Environmental Program (Border 2012) is a collaboration between the United States and Mexico to improve the environment and protect the health of the nearly 12 million people living along the border. The bi-national program focuses on cleaning the air, providing safe drinking water, reducing the risk of exposure to hazardous waste, and ensuring emergency preparedness along the U.S.-Mexico border.

Border 2012 is a results-oriented program that takes a “bottom-up” approach to addressing the environmental and public health needs of the border region.  Issues and projects are identified and implemented at the local level.

Border Partners is proud to be working with this bi-national program. By conserving water and promoting sustainability, we’re helping to create a new model for future viability on the U.S.-Mexico border.

Border 2012 map

Border 2012 area map. Courtesy: EPA website.

Square-foot garden workshop launches new Palomas program

class with water buckers

Workshop members each received a water bucket to reuse household gray water.

Seven new gardeners attended our gardening workshop yesterday where they built raised bed frames and talked about the principals and advantages of year round intensive gardening with plants in square foot areas. Our goal is to set each of them with a garden that will have freeze and shade protection for year round vegetable growing.

The Foxworth Galbraith Lumber Company in Deming, NM gave us the wood for the 4′ x 4′ boxes. Proper Food Company gave us buckets so that the gardeners could recycle water from their in house use. Several workshop participants already did that by using wash water to flush their toilets.

Water use is always a problem due to its high cost. Border Partner has agreed to pay for any increase in the square foot gardeners’ water bills for the next six months caused by the garden usage of water. Tests of the square foot gardening system show that, if managed correctly, they use only 25% of the water used by row type gardens. We did a quick survery and found that water bills averaged about $15.00 per month, a significant cost in a town that suffers over 70% unemployment. Even those who have a job generally earn only $50 to $60 per week.

Our chief gardener Juana and her husband Fernando hosted the meeting and gave tours of their full yard garden and orchard and their new greenhouse built of Papercrete blocks. It is always fun to see people learn a new skill even if it is just learning to drive a screw with a electric drill.

woman uses tool

Learning to use new tools is an additional benefit of gardening workshops.