As we make way for Spring, we have a day to advocate for the sustainable management of water resources….
An average family gets up every morning and uses about 400 gallons (EPA estimates) of water daily, but a mature tree might use up to 50 gallons (some stored, some transpired). Most gardeners do understand how to conserve water, but are they doing it? Your trees conserve, do you?
Where does all the water come from? There are a lot of people and trees out there.
It begins as rain or snow and flows into our lakes, rivers and streams, some ending up stored underground. Some gets retained in the soil.
See why snowfall is necessary in climates that get cold winters? Snow that does not melt immediately will have a delayed effect on the water table, raising it now as we go into Spring to aid new growth.
But first you need the snow that hangs around.
All the grumbling over long winters is not something snow belt gardeners should be doing. The effects will be seen in subsequent years as water tables drop, especially if not getting seasonal rains to replenish the water table and trees start to die.
In the last five years, nearly every region of the country has experienced water shortages. At least 36 states are anticipating local, regional, or statewide water shortages by 2013, even under non-drought conditions. (EPA source)
Lowering water tables and supplies equals a higher concentration of pollutants in water.
Having concern for our water supplies and wildlife, we should consider using less water that results in waste.
Humans interfere with the water cycle in these ways:
- Using large amounts from surface sources. (human use in excess)
- Polluting water. (waste water adding back into natural supplies)
- Removing the world’s forests. (see below)
Trees store water
Trees act as a watershed by absorbing water during heavy rain, storing it and slowly releasing it back into the environment. Surface waters, aquifers, and plant life make up the watershed.
Trees assist the watershed by helping to regulate it. In its lifetime, a tree helps to re-charge and clean more water than it took to establish it.
Water moves through three layers: (source)
- The upper unsaturated zone, consisting of soil moisture.
- The water table, where water exchanges between the saturated layer and the unsaturated layer.
- The zone of saturation. It holds pockets of water for longer periods than does the water table.
Tree roots receive water from the unsaturated zone and the water table, depending on climate conditions.
Trees slow their transpiration rate to conserve water when water is scarce. Extended drought puts all trees, not just those experiencing normal aging, into premature senescence which has detrimental effects on our forests.
So for the trees sake, think about water conservation, trees do.