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Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Lessons unlearned from...

The Hohokam. 
 
Long before White Folks discovered the Valley of the Sun, known today as Phoenix, the Hohokam resided there. 

The former occupants built elaborate canal systems throughout the Gila and Salt River bottom lands. At one time, they had 100,000 acres of irrigated farmland under cultivation. The longest canal was 20 miles long. In total, there was 1,000 miles of man made waterways coursing through the lowlands. 

I'd like to think of the Hohokam as the early day Bureau of Reclamation. 

The Hohokams occupied the area from 600 to 1450. Then the Hohokam went missing. 
The modern Pima Indians provided the White Folks with their name. Hohokam loosely translates to "all used up" and "gone." 

What happened to these Busy Beavers?

Many Eggheads provided us with many theories. Here's a plausible one. As the Native population swelled, more canals were required. This meant more maintenance and water requirements. Then the droughts came. Foodstuffs and cotton were harder to grow. Great floods followed destroying the watery infrastructure. The Hohokam evaporated away to greener pastures. 

Now Metro Phoenix fills the void. The city's name came from an Englishman in the 1860's " A new city will spring phoenix-like upon the ruins of a former civilization." True! 

Now there are canals running to and fro across the valley. Water is pumped up and over from the far away Colorado River to fill the CAP (Central Arizona Project) waterways. It's an engineering marvel and the possible high point of Floyd Dominy and his Bureau of Reclamation. 

The whole premise of Phoenix is built upon a house of cards. How can an Metro area of 4.2 million people get by on 8 inches of precipitation per year? The answer is not likely without the infusion of Colorado River water. The Gila and Salt Rivers do not pass beyond the city. Every drop of water is sucked up. What once were river beds are now relegated for flood control. Where there were once perennial streams are now dried up and dusty repositories for tires, shopping carts and other detritus of modern man. 

Yet, the subdivisions keep springing up. The golf courses, palm and orange trees, water features, hay fields and Kentucky Blue Grass are still in use. 

No one seems to pay attention to the inevitable. The Colorado River is used up. All of it. One day, there will be a price to pay for Man's Hubris. Hohokam history will repeat itself. 

Please read Maxina Lewis' quote from the last photo. From the mouths of babes comes wisdom. 

Please use water wisely. It's a gift. (It's a necessary ingredient of IPA's too)

Cheers,
Jeff







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