"When landowners understand that water is a crop, they'll cherish it and nourish it like they do other crops on their land." This simple idea is the basis of the Sand County Foundation's Water As A Crop™ Program, which aims to empower landowners with knowledge and resources to manage the conservation of water where it falls, producing clean water as a benefit to the community at large.
Steve Parret, the Sand County Foundation's program director, explains in this video how the Water As A Crop™ program can ease problems of water supply and quality in drought-impacted areas like the Trinity Basin of Texas.
Working with local conservation organizations like Trinity Waters and investors like MillerCoors, the Sand County Foundation's Water As A Crop™ program helps landowners assess their land and current practices, provides financial incentives to participate, trains them to be responsible water stewards and monitors the results of conservation efforts.
Most of the United States' precipitation falls on private land, which is used to produce food and fiber for people. In this landscape, which often drains too quickly, water quantity and quality can be affected by soil erosion, downstream flooding, contaminants and inadequate aquifer recharge. In the Trinity Basin, the river system provides the water supply and drinking water for the sizable populations of Dallas, Fort Worth and Houston, making management of these waterways essential for the entire region. The river frequently suffers from drought, and the water supply is sometimes unable to meet demand of eight million residents.
When landowners learn how water can have an added value for the diversification of their ranches and understand how their practices affect urban residents, they can make a big difference. Water quality can be improved with simple actions like growing tall native grasses and rotational grazing, which strategically moves livestock to fresh pasture on a regular basis to allow vegetation to recover.
Free to participating landowners, the Water As A Crop™ program pools financial resources from all over the country to have an effect at the local level. As the primary corporate sponsor, MillerCoors has provided over $150,000 in direct support for the program.