Imagine a Day Without Water: What it means to the North Central Region?

“Imagine: No water to drink, or even make coffee with. No water to shower, flush the toilet, or do laundry.  Hospitals would close without water.  Firefighters couldn’t put out fires and farmers couldn’t water their crops”.  

That statement was taken from The Value of Water: Imagine a Day Without Water Campaign website.  Here in the North Central Region Water Network, that last sentence rings especially poignantly.  After all, what is agriculture and farming without water?  Although seemingly a simple question, the possibility of having to face this question head-on may become more real as our climate continues to change.

It is important now to be aware of the role of water in our world, our country, and our state levels.  Without water, many of the everyday aspects of life we often take for granted may suffer.  By supporting water education, agriculture research, and water programs in our region, the NCRWN is helping to make sure an actual day without water never comes to fruition.  

We asked some key members of our organization three important questions:

  • What does water mean to your state or in your profession? Explain the role of water.
  • What would a day without water look like in your respective state or from your professional perspective?
  • Why do you think awareness of water issues is important not only to professionals but also the general public?

Naeem Kalwar, Extension Area Specialist/Soil Health at North Dakota State University

  1. Overall, like other States, water is very important for North Dakota to have green pastures and fields to produce healthy animals and record yielding crops. As a soil health specialist, I look at water being essential for life both under and above the soils. However, it needs to be managed if in excess, like North East North Dakota.
  2. A day without water under drought will be painstakingly long, however, if the crops are mature, it could be a blessing.
  3. It is very important that general public and professionals are aware of the water issues. Without public support, professional cannot address the issues.

Chad Watts, Conservation Technology Information Center

  1. Water is an essential component of life.  In Indiana, water is a valuable resource to help produce feed, fuel and fiber, and to sustain aquatic communities.  Some of the most diverse freshwater communities in the world reside in the Midwest, including many rare and threatened species of freshwater mussels.  These communities rely on clean freshwater systems for their existence.  All of these communities, including the human community, need water to survive, making water a critical component of everyday life.
  2. A day without water is something hard to grasp.  Water is so essential to our everyday lives, and we are blessed with such an abundance of freshwater in the Midwest that not having water would be a major impediment to daily life.  No flowing rivers, no aquifers, and no lakes or puddles would be akin to living on another planet for a day compared to what we are used to.  However, I do think that we take water for granted, especially in the Midwest where we have so much and it is such a part of our daily lives.  A day without water would be a wake-up call for the public to protect the water we do have and would raise awareness of water’s importance to our everyday lives.  Even in times of drought, when we hear so much about the lack of water, we still have flowing rivers and while our lakes may be below normal levels, there is still water in them.  In our climate, a drought is something that garners a lot of attention.  Imagine the attention that having no water would generate and the importance that the public would then place on protecting such a needed resource that we so often take for granted.
  3. Often, in the humid climates of the Midwest, we discount the value of rain or flowing waters because we are so accustomed to having an abundance of water.  To those who don’t get the amount and frequency of rainfall that we do, water is a highly valued commodity.  Often in the Midwest, we worry about having too much water and are always looking for ways to manage water such that it doesn’t impact our basements, farm fields and infrastructure.  Our concern isn’t that we don’t have enough, rather often that we have too much water.  Thus, it is difficult to get people behind considering strategies that protect water that we have because not having enough water, or not enough clean water, seems not to be a real threat to people.  Awareness of water as a precious resource is very important to getting people onboard with protecting water.

Nathan Meyer, Program Leader in Natural Resources for the University of Minnesota Extension Center for Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources

  1. Water is a deep and consistent element of Minnesota’s heritage and identity. For our state, it means our position at the headwaters of multiple national waterways. It means fishing, family cabins, boating and skiing. It waters millions of acres of cropland. It gives rise to the world-class wilderness that we call dear. For my profession, it entails innovative efforts to tackle the grand challenge of sustainable agricultural production, social-ecological challenges like mining and shipping in close proximity to vulnerable waters, managing impacts of urban livelihoods, recreation and transit.
  2. Inconceivable, but perhaps more common. For just a day, statewide agricultural fields and forests would wither. Dredges might be on-the-ready to dig deeper shipping channels. Lake home and cabin owners, other recreationists might worry over diminishing lake levels. Unfortunately, we have suffered more recent and frequent drought in the state.
  3. It is the public who ultimately demands water resources, drives wise use/management decisions, and supports sustainable and innovative management. Public awareness is critical for their understanding, support and involvement in sustaining water resources.

Imagine a Day Without Water is simply a campaign to raise awareness, to spark discussions, and to have people question our water systems and how they function.  Continue supporting water programs, continue furthering agricultural research, and continue developing smarter ways to structure water so we never have to imagine a day without our most precious resource.

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