Why the picture of Angelina Eberly? I chose that picture because I think we need to stop giving away our 6,500 gallons of rainwater storage in each yard. It’s mine and you can’t take it. That’s my rainwater!
Whenever I think about the spirit of Texas, I am reminded of the story of Gonzales, TX and “Come and Take it”, and the statue of Angelina Eberly located in downtown Austin (see picture above). This picture makes often think of the spirit of my wife – Karin Ascot. She is passionate about water issues, as most Texans are. I have been doing a lot of thinking about water issues of late, and I surprised myself with some of the things which I discovered.
For example, if the average household in Austin were to use bokashi to compost their food scraps, they would at a minimum create each year a 130 gallon rain water tank in their soil. Have you ever wondered where you could put your next rainwater tank that wouldn’t take up too much space, or change the aesthetics of your yard? In your soil.
In fact, the average yard can hold 7,500 gallons of rain water without adding a single piece of plastic or steel. It wouldn’t take up any of your yard space, and it wouldn’t lose all of the water if a tap broke. It would keep our trees much healthier and dramatically reduce the damage they incur during droughts. Why, because with the extra rain water stored in the soil, their drought would be shorter. And rain water is the highest quality water. Have you ever noticed how a yard surviving on city water all of a sudden rejuvenates when we get a rain?
The average yard in Austin right now is only holding about 1,000 gallons of water or the first 0.70” of rain, so imagine what would happen if your trees had access to another 6,500 gallons of rain water storage. That means you would be able to capture upto 5.5” of rain. Think of those rains we usually get in the middle of September after the summer heat. They are often in the 5 to 10” range, yet most people will only hold the first 0.70” and the rest will be runoff. That is why you see risks of flooding in the creeks. When the flooding subsides, the rivers go nearly dry as there is no water left in our yards to drain. You might also imagine how much faster they can recover from a drought if we store a greater percentage of rain from that first rain after a drought.
How do we get that soil water holding capacity built? The low hanging fruit is your leaves and food scraps. Make compost, or use bokashi to place the food scraps directly into the soil, and use your leaves to keep the moisture in the soil (i.e. mulch). More on these topics will be coming.