Let’s start with some good news, shall we? It’s no secret that nursery professionals are a resourceful group. That’s a given. Where there’s a need, there’s a clever solution. If you ever attended a new ideas session at the former ANLA Management Clinic—or, for that matter, simply asked a colleague a question—you know this to be true. There’s not much that can’t be fixed or adapted or invented or fabricated.

Not much, that is, except Mother Nature.

When to comes to natural resources, we’re at the mercy of the weather gods. That is, unless we implement practices that help to capture and conserve, treat and use wisely. My little contribution to the cause? The dehumidifier in my basement runs nearly all summer long, but I’m able to capture the condensation and use it for the potted annuals that live in abundance on my front steps throughout the season. (Am I looking for a pat on the back? No, not when I confess that I occasionally let the water drip in the bathroom sink because the cats demand to be entertained —despite the fact that they have their very own recirculating fountain in the kitchen.)

Over the years, nearly every nursery operation I’ve visited has been way ahead of the curve in regard to water. Water use, water treatment, water sources, water quality. It doesn’t matter what part of the country or what the average rainfall is, I’ve been impressed to see so little waste. It’s a precious commodity, and we all know it.

Significant portions of the West and Southwest are predicted to continue their struggle through historic and crippling drought, despite the occasional drenching rains.
Map courtesy of the Climate Prediction Center, NOAA

But that commodity is growing ever more difficult to control. Whether it’s a matter of decreasing volume or increasing regulation, competition for resources has amped up, and the future of water, although not in our hands entirely, is our responsibility.

Please take a look at Tom Fernandez’s article, appropriately titled “The Future of Water Quality,” beginning on page 18. It’s thought-provoking, educational, even somewhat encouraging … and a sound foundation for where we go from here. Because from here, water will continue to be a challenge.

We hear conflicting reports on climate change—it’s irreversible; it’s a hoax—but our experience has been that water is not nearly as plentiful as we’d like to it be. Much of the West and Southwest is experiencing dramatic drought, and although the specific status may change slightly week to week with the arrival of much-needed precipitation, long-term predictions hold that scarcity will continue. This season, this year. Next year?

Let’s hope they’re wrong. But let’s prepare for the possibility that they’re right.