The metaphor of a glass half empty or half full has been around a long time. Years ago, while giving a crane tour in Central Nebraska to a trade delegation from North Africa and the Middle East, I had a conversation with a gentleman from Tunisia. He was the Tunisian equivalent of an extension agent. He thanked me profusely for the day he had in Nebraska. He said, “this morning we were shown a farm owned by the farmers that farmed it with the tools to farm it well, and this afternoon you showed us a breath-taking wildlife spectacle and the amount of effort it takes to do conservation to support it. Most importantly you showed us how you can make both work in the same landscape. In my country we don’t have the ability or will to do either…”
That conversation happened well over a decade ago, but those words have lingered. We spend a lot of time debating the half full/half empty question that we forget that we are fortunate to have water and a glass to put it in.
Water is elemental. Everything on earth is influenced by it. At the Nebraska Water Balance Alliance, our objective isn’t to pick sides in any given water debate, but to seek solutions to water issues so that we can have a sustainable future for all Nebraskans.
It is not good enough to spend time, money and human effort on buying, building and regulating water with technology. Those tools are limited in their value without creating a shared vision of success that challenges all stakeholders to take a seat at the table. NEWBA is a champion of a simple 3 step process that engages people of all skill sets and understanding to do their part in promoting Nebraska’s sustainable water future.
Aquamart brings people, ideas, and technology together to find simple tools for water management in Nebraska. It finds ways to apply science to practice/policy in simple, measurable, and meaningful ways. It encourages collaboration in planning, implementing, and evaluating projects to promote the sustainable future of Nebraska’s water for all.
The Panhandle is the headwaters of our state’s water supply. Conservation and effective management in western Nebraska echoes across the state and beyond. It is also the most volatile part of the state in terms of water sustainability. Variable rainfall and climate patterns challenge this part of the state more than any other and the results of this uncertainty have magnified ramifications economically, ecologically and socially.
TAPS is an innovative farm learning project NEWBA is proud to be a part of through its Aquamart Initiative. Crop science is a complex set of well-timed decisions that require the best available knowledge and technology delivered at an affordable price to the grower. Navigating the constantly changing landscape of agriculture requires farmers to make choices about adopting new technology and practices to remain competitive in farming.
Farming is done by inches. The precision that is required to be a successful farmer is staggering, so ideal conditions are critical for success. In South Central Nebraska, the state is fortunate to have some of the best soils on earth for growing crops. This fortune comes with an exacting price however. The cost of owning and/or renting this ground is high, which limits the producers’ margins to make change.
Water Balance isn’t just about quantity, it’s also about thoughtful stewardship of water quality for future generations. As a society we are always learning improved ways to produce the food we eat. Knowing how to produce a crop with more responsible management is on the mind of any successful farmer.
All life on earth needs water to survive. However, how people view and use water can be quite different. In water deficient parts of the world, severe household water restrictions have become the norm. In a state like Nebraska, where water resources are generally abundant, it is easy to assume that water will always be there when you need it. For that statement to have any validity, it will take a continuous and productive dialogue by all water users. To that end, NEWBA is an advocate for bringing groups together to share ideas, concerns and opportunities to work collaboratively on water issues in the state. Agriculture is benefited by strong communities as much as communities benefit from strong agriculture. The state benefits from the prosperity of both.
Speaking with groups and harnessing the power of their ideas and making a better water future for the state is a goal for the Nebraska Water Balance Alliance.