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What can you say about water . . .

By George Schmok

The resource . . . Water . . . is a most essential and peculiar combination of molecules . . .

In a matter of moments it can turn from brackish brown slop into a puffy white cloud. That transformation, of course, leads to a degree of purification and ultimately . . . Hopefully . . . it leads to a safe return to the earth.

For such a common transformation, the devastating effects that evaporation can cause are well documented. It is, after all, the process that is central to the development of hurricanes. As the season for wind and rain approaches we can only pray that 2005 was a freakish peak for those animals.

Still, look at the northeast . . . From what I see on the Weather Channel, you folks are happy when you're only knee deep in water on the sidewalk. How much water is enough . . . How much is too much . . .

Well, there is another face of water . . . Water has the all-cleaning, all-cooling, all life giving properties that cause it to be about the most used commodity on the face of the earth. So we definitely need a lot . . .

As it is used, it is also absorbed . . . And quite often what it mixes with is, let's just say, less than desirable. However, when absorbed by seeds and other living things, that mix is very desirable . . .

In fact, that last aspect of water is, of course, what gives us life. As such, water is a crucial factor in land development and population growth. Too much water and life struggles . . . Not enough water and life struggles. That fine balance is somewhat in your hands . . .

Recently while at Lake Mead, just outside Las Vegas, I was struck by the immensity of the place. The raw open Mojave Desert is the backdrop for a series of four dams, holding water at Lake Powell, Lake Mead, Lake Mohave and Lake Havasu.

Lake Powell has one of the longest shorelines in the world as it eddies into canyon after vertical canyon along its 186-mile length. While often deeper than 400 feet, Lake Powell isn't really that wide of a lake, but it does hold a lot of water.

Lake Mead is also quite long. Including the Overton Arm, Mead is closer to 100 miles long. But unlike Powell, Lake Mead sits in a huge basin where the shoreline gradually reaches for the mountain bases miles in the distance.

And all around Lake Mead, from what I could estimate, standing about 60 feet high was a white, crusty ring of coarse crystals . . . marking the high point of the lake and its fall.

Besides the hardness of the water, which enters Mead from the Grand Canyon, and the potential that residue has for causing processing problems . . . Lake Mead holds a key to the development future of the southwest.

The sheer volume of water missing from Lake Mead is almost indescribable. These great basins, which can be 30 or more miles across in some areas, are missing 60 feet of water . . . And a few months back National Geographic magazine had a main feature on the 100 feet of lost waters in Lake Powell . . . Now Lake Mohave and Lake Havasu are basically full rivers, rarely getting deeper than 60 or 70 feet, so they don't show the same losses, but they also don't hold the volume of water the first two lakes contain.

With Las Vegas being the fastest growing area in the nation, following a similar boom for the Phoenix area, the whole southern desert area, including southern California, houses four of the largest cities in the nation. Yet the entire population is replenished by only one river, making four lakes with falling water lines.

Half the nation is drowning and the other half is thirsty . . . Yes, water is a tricky subject . . . the balance is so fine and the need so great . . . As Landscape Architects, especially those who practice Land Planning, you can have a tremendous effect on how water is distributed and used . . . You know this, of course, but still it is something to think about . . .

--God Bless

George Schmok, Publisher



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June 18, 2019, 8:42 am PDT

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