Friday, October 31, 2014

The Fright of It  ( happy halloween)

30% of the water used in the average American household  is for "outdoor" water use. 

Nation wide,  landscape irrigation is estimated to account for  1/3 of all residential water use, totaling upwards of  9 billion gallons of water a day.

In  the dry southwest climate, it is estimated that up to 60% of residential water consumption is for outdoor uses.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Happy Belated Birthday

Birthday water wishes to the 26th president of the United States Theodore Roosevelt born October 27, 1858. Teddy Roosevelt ascended to the presidency September 14, 1901 after the assassination of President McKinley. It was in 1902 that he sign the Reclamation Act allowing for the building of the Roosevelt Dam along the Salt River.

Thanks for the water Teddy !

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

From Lake Michigan to the Desert

Last Saturday was the first Scottsdale Farmer's Market of the season and of course the Trike made an appearance.  I had the opportunity to talk with many marketeers about water, weather and "what-have-you". 

This is Anil, aptly wearing his "support local" t-shirt and charming Sheree. They are fresh transplants from Chicago. They interrupted their fresh tamale and fruit cup breakfast to engage in a conversation about My Your Our Water. Coming from a lakefront landscape with knee deep snow drifts to a 90 degree October can be a Halloween treat but the lack of obvious water can be a little "spooky". Their fears were eased upon hearing about the series of reservoirs, dams and canal systems that make a bountiful life truly possible in this arid region.

Welcome to the desert, it was delightful meeting you both!

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Tempe Town Lake

Let's talk about a lake closer to home that starts with the letter T.  

Tempe Town Lake is often the center of curious conversation. Where did it come from? It's a reservoir that fills a small portion of dry river bed of the Salt River. The primary inflow of water comes from the Colorado River as part of the Central Arizona Project (CAP) and not the Salt River. However, the lake dams are operated by Salt River Project under a contract with the City of Tempe.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Make A Splash

I couldn't resist this second image submitted by Tracy E. from Lake Tahoe in California.

If you'd like to share your water experience, email your images to

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Great Day to Trike 

Even though the mercury was above 90, it was a beautiful morning to trike the Arizona Canal, one of the multi-use trails along the 131 miles of SRP canal. While based on the original Hohokam canal system, the current active nine canals were created over the course of the last century. As a result, each has a unique story of development and a unique service area.

The Arizona Canal was started in 1883 by the Arizona Canal Company.

In 1903 the formation of the Salt River Valley Water User's Association prompted the Secretary of the Interior to purchase the canal. In 1906 the purchase was signed and in 1907 the government assumed operation of the canal.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Bottled Value

Yes, this is a photo of a littered half full bottle of water. Oddly, for many Americans, bottled water holds more value than clean tap water. Over the past two decades, the consumption of bottled water has more than tripled in the United States. The cost of a single bottle of water, depending on the brand, is 250-10,000 times more expensive than tap. Interestingly, anywhere from 25-40 percent of bottled water in the U.S. comes from municipal sources: aka tap water.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Gallons and Gallons  (A gallon of water weighs approximately 8.34 lbs.)

We use water everyday and it is difficult to visualize the physical quantity because it is not used in one single sitting. We consume water all day long: it is running from a faucet, or swirling down a drain, or boiling noodles, or steeping tea, or bathing the dog, or showering after fixing a leaking section of the sprinkler system.

The average American individual consumes 80 - 100 gallons of water everyday.

If you would like a water usage estimate for your household click the link...USGS water science school

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Spanning the Lake

Prior to the renovations of Roosevelt Dam in 1989, traffic had to be diverted off  the top of the dam. The  Roosevelt Lake Bridge was constructed to relocate Highway 188.  The blue painted steel bridge spans 1,080 feet across the reservoir. It is the longest two-lane, single-span steel arch bridge in North America. In November of 1995, it was designated as one of the top twelve bridges in the United States along side the Golden Gate Bridge and Brooklyn Bridge.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Meanwhile at Roosevelt Dam...

The construction of the dam was initially completed in 1911 at the cost of $10 million with a National Historic Landmark designation to follow. It was the largest masonry dam at 280 ft high and 723 feet in length. In its' original state, the top of the dam served as a convenient and practical bridge across the newly formed lake.

Between 1989-1996 Roosevelt Dam went under a massive renovation and expansion. The masonry dam was incased in concrete and raised by 77 feet making it a grand 357 feet in height thereby increasing the storage capacity of the reservoir by 20%. The renovations also included, rehabilitation of the hydroelectric plant, a realignment of Highway 188 to cross over the newly built Theodore Roosevelt Lake Bridge, and a tunneling project known as the "Lake Tap".

Shortly after completion of the project the region entered an extended drought. The new storage capacity was not used at 100%  until February 2009. 

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Postcard Perfect 

Drum roll please..... this is the first water experience image submitted to My Your Our Water.  Tracy E. sent this refreshingly perfect image of Lake Tahoe, California. "From skiing to swimming, this area is perfect for every water sport."
Please share your water images with us.

Monday, October 20, 2014

On your mark...

Just kidding! The trike was definitely not racing the runner... but we would have totally won... just saying, head start and all... we would have totally clinched it.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Arizona Falls

Saturday triking along the Arizona Canal led to the perfect rest spot at Arizona FallsThere is a natural 20 foot drop along the canal between what is now 56th street and 58th street. This site which was once a place to gather, picnic and enjoy the flowing water in the 1800's became the first hydroelectric plant in 1902. It operated until some time in the 1950's when it was shut down. Through the collaboration of Salt River Project and the Phoenix Office of Arts and Culture, the site has be restored and enhanced to create an aesthetic respite along the canal that combines "art, history, and technology to generate clean electricity." My chucks got a little muddy but totally worth it!

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Coquetry of precipitation 

Teasing tones of blue gray
rippling coy
layered horizon.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Lookin for a Pool in all the wrong places

I was headed out on the trike in the "already pushing mid 80 something" sun and thought, water, I need water. Not the little kind of water from a tap or tub and not the BIG kind of water either, like in Tahoe or Tasman. A medium kind water. Ahh yes, the perfect Goldilocks size of refreshing. Pedal. Pedal. Pedal.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Pool Facts

It may be mid October but temperatures are still in the low 90's in the Valley of the Sun. Some Phoenicians are brave enough to still venture into the less than warm water to splash about in one of the estimated 615,000 pools in Arizona. If that seems like a lot of Marco Polo, consider that there are over 10.4 million residential pools and 309,000 public pools in the United States. ( That's about 1 pool for every 30 people ).  Cannonball !

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

The Creek in Oak Creek Canyon

Oak Creek is a tributary of the Verde River and is one of the few perennial streams in the high desert of northern Arizona. It runs through Oak Creek Canyon which is a stunning river gorge located between Flagstaff and red rocked Sedona. It is part of the Coconino Forest and home to Slide Rock State Park.

The water is cold, fast, magnificent. The banks are lined in Fir, Pine, Cypress, Juniper, Alder, Cottonwood, Sycamore and of course countless mighty Oak.

You may wonder what does Oak Creek have to do with my coffee or your bath or our lemonade?  Simply, as part of the Verde River watershed, what happens there happens here. As part of the interconnected water community, natural and unnatural events in one area can effect water flow or water quality in another area.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

What's on Tap ?

The water tap, or valve controlling the release of the precious liquid, has been in use since some time around, near or before 1700BC. The Romans had a refined plumbing system that delivered water to private homes, fountains, cisterns and public baths. Hi5 to the Roman Spigot!

Monday, October 13, 2014

The Father of Water Automata

Hero, also known as Heron of Alexandria (c. 10CE-70CE)  was a cutting edge Greek mathematician and fanciful engineer who was a fan of designing machines operated by pneumatic or mechanical means aka automata. This often included devices used in temples to cultivate faith through theatrics and spectacle. What does this have to do with water? Glad you asked. Heron of Alexandria devised the very first coined operated vending machine to dispense water, holy water to be exact, but water none-the-less.

"A coin inserted in the slot strikes one end of a balance beam, lifting the other end temporarily and drawing a plug out of a pipe, allowing the water to flow. As the balance returns to equilibrium, the plug drops, seals the pipe and the flow ceases."

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Dry Run

Ok ok, it wasn't a run but a ride. The trike went for its' first canal adventure this fine Fall morning. We went out early, but not too early, to catch the mix of morning fresh air seekers that walk, jog, bike and skateboard along the canal. Hello 92  degrees in October folks! It was less multi-use canal path and more hot ghost town. 

Saturday, October 11, 2014


Don't forget to wear personal protective gear when riding a sparkle blue tricycle along the canal and discussing water and aesthetics. Safety First ! 

Friday, October 10, 2014

After the Rain

The colors, satured. 
The air, clinging. 
The puddles, glassy.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Vegas Odds

The prediction of desert rain is less of a science and more of a back alley crap shoot. Sunless days buzz with anticipation and quizzical glances out the window, "will it or won't it ?"  Most desert dwellers don't ever leave the house with an umbrella unless they want a good ribbing for lugging about a useless accessory. 

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Dam Familiar

If you happen to be in Old Town Scottsdale, perhaps visiting the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art, or having dinner at the Mission, or shopping for an iconic southwest scorpion paper weight, take a stroll past the Livery building on 2nd and Brown and check out the video projection in the window.  You may just recognize that dam!

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

watershed map repurposed from Montgomery County, MD   EPA website

A Watershed Moment...

Perhaps you've heard that phrase used as a reference to a critical moment of divergence after which nothing will ever be the same.  That is now.

Where does water come from? Rain, rivers, streams, aquifers, lakes, reservoirs, canals, pipes, the kitchen sink?  The water is connected.

A watershed is an area of land where all the water that flows under it, through it or drains off of it, goes to the same place. 

Famed  geologist, John Wesley Powell, referred to this hydrologic system as an area of land, "within which all living things are inextricably linked by their common water course and where, as humans settled, simple logic demanded that we become part of a community"

Monday, October 6, 2014

Behind the lake otherwise called arid

Burnt red, 

soft swept brown speckled-dotted, marked,
dry grey green shifting bleached yellow white.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Behind the dam

This is Theodore Roosevelt Lake.
Formed by the dam, it fills a good portion of the southern area of the Tonto basin located in the Tonto National Forest. It has a conservation level of 1,653,043 acre feet of water and a flood control level of 2,910,200 acre feet of water. The primary inflow comes from the Salt River and the tributary Tonto Creek. 
It is truly, a remarkable blue green oasis.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Dam it !

Built between 1905-1911, Theodore (Teddy) Roosevelt Dam is one of the first five federal projects ordered by the Reclamation Act of 1902.  This masonry marvel impounds the Salt River primarily for storage purposes, irrigation water supply and flood control. In addition to cultivating the vital resource for agricultural purposes, the dam harnessed the pure power of water and has a hydroelectric generating capacity of 36,000 kW.

Friday, October 3, 2014

How the West was Really Won  (a six sentence history exploit)

As settlers moved West, it became increasingly evident that ready access to water was of the utmost importance to establishing longevity and success in any region. At first simple systems of irrigation diverted water from streams or rivers to provide for agricultural needs. However, the demand quickly outstripped the supply.

On June 17, 1902 the United States Congress passed the Reclamation Act funding irrigation and water storage projects for the arid lands in the American West. In return the water users who received direct benefit from the projects were obligated to repay the costs of construction.

The "reclaiming" of arid lands ultimately created the opportunity for long term settling, future urbanization and ultimately the making of Home.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

desert not dessert

des-ert : n.1. barren area of land with little or no precipitation often with hostile conditions for plant and animal life

I moved to Arizona as a small child. I exchanged the grassy yard, taller than me snow drifts and 241 shades of Ohio gray sky for a granite lawn, faster than me tumbleweed and 241 shades of brown. I used to lay on my back in the driveway and stare up at the thick blue sky as it stretched up from the warm ground I could feel beneath me. The lone skinny cloud in the sea of blue would slowly drift out of my plane of vision. I was lost in the bald sky. Over the years, I’ve had the opportunity to live near and far for reasons of varied consequence: school, teaching, residencies, novelty. The desert has become my north star and I always return home.

My story is not singular rather it is a shared love story that I have heard fall from the lips of my neighbors and strangers alike...
an epic romance with an unfathomable desire to make this arid place home.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Welcome !

Perhaps we met along a canal path as I steadily pedaled on my tricked out tricycle with a trunk of treasures. 
Perhaps I directed you to this blog over a cup of coffee or while I was waiting in a dental office. 
Perhaps we chatted on an airplane or on a bus or on a boat.
Perhaps I invited you to talk about the reflection of the sky in the canal,     
     or last Saturday's crazy wild rainstorm,
     or my sweet new pair of chucks that are the color of tidewater glaciers,     
     or how often you feed and water your lemon trees.
However you found your way here to this spot...welcome and please, stay.