Working Together to Save Water

As water runs low, conservation effort is high.
March 29, 2012 - Honduras

The current state of the dam from which the Ranch obtains the majority of its water.

Unlike much of the Honduran population, we at NPH are very fortunate to have excellent access to a nearby water source. Even better, not only do we have water, but we have clean water. Last October the Ranch was blessed with the installation of a new water treatment system which supplies purified drinking water to spigots disbursed throughout our property. We have potable water delivered to our fingertips. Compared to the rest of the country, our water access is extraordinary.

However, this year we have a problem.

Although we have great water access throughout the Ranch, the water still must originate from somewhere, and this reservoir is not infinite. As the dry season enters full swing, the rain has ceased, and our water supply diminishes day by day. Most years our water reserve is full enough from the rainy season to provide us with water to get us through the dry months. But this year we are running unusually low very early in the season. With at least two months of dry season still to come, the Ranch has shifted into conservation mode, as we must make every drop of our water count. Our drinking water comes from a nearby spring which is then purified, but our water we use for everything else, irrigation, cleaning, showers, etc, is collected and controlled by a large dam erected on our property for this very purpose. Usually deep and plentiful, the drought has left the ground floor of our dam’s reservoir cracked and dry. In fact, it is so dry that many of our pequeños recently took advantage of the low water levels by catching and frying the fish that had become trapped in the too shallow water.

The shortage of water arises mainly from the simple lack of rainfall. This year’s rainy season ended much more abruptly than usual—it normally tapers off gradually. We got hotter, drier weather much sooner than expected. Another reason for the shortage is the amount of sediment that naturally settles at the bottom of the reservoir, decreasing its total volume little by little each year.

The Ranch has reacted to the lack of water in several ways. Primarily, to conserve water we have stopped irrigating all vegetation used for farm consumption, such as king grass for our cow feed. We have instead begun purchasing low cost sugar cane for their consumption to help get through these dry months. This saves us one hundred thousand gallons of water a day.

We have also encouraged water conservation in our daily routine activities. “Our caregivers have told us about the situation,” says 16-year-old pequeño Eduardo. “We need to be very careful with the water we use. No long showers and only have the water running when we absolutely need it.”

Some pequeños have even started to retrieve water from secondary water sources, nearby streams, to do their chores, as to not draw excess water from our reservoir.

We have come up with several temporary solutions to help with this problem, but we must think long term. How can we prevent this problem in the future?

“One project is to increase the total volume of our dam by building up the dam wall by a meter and potentially digging out some of the bottom sediment,” says Ross Egge, assistant national director. “Another project would be a campaign to replace all old water spigots for new ones that don’t leak and will last. And finally, another great possibility would be looking into well digging options as an additional viable water source.”

With all the wonderful resources we have on the Ranch comes a high demand for water. The vegetable garden, the animal farm, the kitchen, the 600 plus people who drink and bathe here—they all combine to create quite the hefty need. It is our responsibility to manage this demand as best we can. However, sometimes things are out of our control and we must react accordingly. Although our water is running low, the optimistic spirits and efforts of our children and staff are high as together we push through these trying months.

Hunter Johnson   
Communication Officer - NPH Honduras




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