21 October 2008

GIO: Land Use and Water Quality

Question 8: How can we change land use to improve water quality?

Please give your thoughts, opinions, facts, arguments, etc. in the comments.

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3 comments:

Jackie said...

A non expert's list.

Reduce hardscape. Build porous parking lots and driveways with bricks and grass. Plant swales with native fescues.
Preserve wetlands.
Use organic practices in agriculture, no chemicals--herbicides, pesticides, or chemical fertilizers.
Let cows graze, abandon feedlots.
Free range happy chickens, not industrial scale egg and meatbird production.
Have backyard chickens.
Eat less meat. A lot less meat.
Consume less dairy, or better yet, get your own dairy goat.
Keep hog farms very small and spread wide apart.
Keep dairies small and far apart.
Use all poo from animals for compost.
Dispose of toxics properly.
Fix fluid leaks in engines immediately.
Use a broom to clean driveways and sidewalks instead of the hose.
Keep lawns small, have gardens or mulched landscapes instead. Don't use chemicals on landscapes and lawns.
Pee outside, poo inside.
Sprawl not.

Captain Flounder said...

Jackie's got a darn good list there, and if that's non-expert it sure as heck is a great starting point.

Philip said...

Jackie's list is thoughtful, but I'm not convinced organic agriculture is always better for water quality. For one thing, it will take a lot more land and water to come up with an equivalent amount of food, because the bugs, microbes, and weeds get some. People don't use crop protection chemicals just to be mean and stupid. For another, the use of animal wastes for fertilizer makes water borne diseases more of a problem, and makes precise control of nitrogen almost impossible, because of the more variable timing of the conversion into nitrate forms; and because the product itself is not uniform, so it can't be applied precisely. Finally, of course, the couple of billion humans whose lives depend on the synthesis of inorganic N to keep from starving to death will raise a ruckus prior to doing so, and that probably won't do Mother Earth much good, either.
One heretical idea is that it makes sense for people to live and farm far away from sensitive headwaters and such. This requires storage and conveyance, but that's probably a fair trade-off. Imagine if all of LA, and all the farms and dairies in the Southern San Joaquin were jammed in between Redding and Sacramento instead of where the are. I suspect water quality would suffer.