The world is running out of fresh water. The new documentary, DAY ZERO, is raising the alarm. The day when the water runs out is coming soon, especially to places like Colorado and the High Plains.
See trailer: DAY ZERO
The Arkansas and South Platte rivers that flow from the snow-packed Colorado Rockies to the High Plains of Eastern Colorado and Western Kansas are drying up. Growing cities like Colorado Springs and Denver are consuming more water, depleting two of the traditional sources of recharge for the Ogallala Aquifer. After transferring water north to a sprawling Colorado Springs, the Arkansas river is providing less and less water for growing food in the fertile fields of Southern Colorado, and barely, if at all, makes it to the Kansas border. At times, the South Platte water levels are nearly undetectable from an altitude of 8,500 feet at the Northeastern border of the state where the river once had a healthy flow into Nebraska.
“There was enough water to submerge the entire state of Colorado to a depth of forty-five feet, they called it the Ogallala Aquifer. Almost a third of the Ogallala water is already gone. Most of what’s left will disappear in the space of a lifetime.” –DAY ZERO
“It’s not what the cattle are drinking, it’s what the crops are consuming in the production of corn and alfalfa hay.” – DAY ZERO
“The industrial model will fail because it’s not sustainable.” – DAY ZERO
When the water, the life blood of our existence, is gone, the big food corporations and promoters of urban sprawl will go somewhere else, leaving impoverished and hungry communities behind.
There are solutions
What if the extractive big food monopolies could be broken up, allowing rural economies to thrive, inviting people back from overcrowded urban areas to be part of a new healthier, more sustainable, and resilient food system.
What if safe pathways from the producer to consumer could be restored? What if smaller, safer, and more efficient local/regional meat processors, like we had fifty years ago, could return? Advantages of small rural slaughter plants, like Callicrate Cattle Company, include more efficient use of water, using and recycling thirty to fifty gallons per head, compared to over 700 gallons per head in the big plants.
What if, given a fair share of the food dollar and living incomes, family farms and ranches could become the husbandmen and land stewards they were meant to be?
What if barley was a USDA program crop, encouraging more farmers to grow it? Livestock finish very well on barley, and like wheat, barley is typically a dry-land crop that doesn’t require aquifer depleting irrigation.
Ask President Biden and your elected officials to help lead the effort in building new and better local/regional food systems that will serve our existing and future generations.
Also see the 2009 article from the Scientific American: The Ogallala Aquifer: Saving a Vital U.S. Water Source