Water is Life.
We all know this to be true, but what does it mean to embody “water is life” ethos in every aspect of society, government policy, and our economic system?
We have failed to protect our water resources from contamination and have failed to provide clean and safe water for Yolo County residents. We have polluted our groundwater as well as our surface water. In a land that used to have drinkable rivers, we now have to undergo a process of chemical treatment in order to have our plentiful water resources clean enough to be healthy for consumption. While it is a great technological feat and worthy of due praise given the circumstances, this is not true water security or a lasting solution.
We must start from the fundamental declaration that water is sacred and is not to be polluted for profit or industry needs. We must make it’s protection priority #1 of our local government and focus on reversing our polluting impacts until we are again able to drink from rivers.
Indigenous Land Stewardship and Traditional Ecological Knowledge
One of the 12 focus areas of our Local Green New Deal platform is to bring indigenous land stewardship and application of traditional ecological knowledge into the forefront of County land management policy. There are still people here who have received the knowledge of how their ancestors have been tending these lands and protecting clean water for tens of thousands of years. The land that we now call California was once described like the Garden of Eden.
While there is no going back in time, we can move forward in a way that combines the best of our technological understanding with the traditions and robust ecological knowledge of the indigenous peoples and give due recognition for the atrocities committed in the name of Manifest Destiny.
The Problem is the Solution
Regenerative agricultural systems within row crops and orchard crops have the potential to recharge our groundwater and create models for local water security in urban and agricultural areas throughout Yolo County, California, and beyond.
I see a future in which we can work with farmers, and not have to legislate at them to adopt not only ecological but profitable farming methods that recharge groundwater, dramatically cut water usage in farms, sequester carbon, and provide security for local communities.
I don’t claim to have all the answers when it comes to how we sort out the mess we have created in our attempt to control and direct water as we needed. I can see as many see that our current framework of engineering as unsustainable. Through collaborations at local, state, national, and international levels and across all sectors of society (researchers, engineers, designers, workers, financiers, and governments) we can harness the best of Western and Indigenous technologies and work within the principles of nature to secure water abundance, food security, ecosystem rebalancing, and a healthy thriving planet for generations to come.