Rainfall and where rainfall goes becomes more and more important today as population grows, as we start looking at where water goes whenever it rains. And so we have a rainfall simulator here that we’d like to use to illustrate the importance of managing every raindrop whenever it falls. And so we have here a rainfall simulator that I want to use. And with it we have trays that are at the top and they have about 25 holes in them that we will put water in in about a 1-inch rainfall event. And we’ll put it up there and it’s going to fall on four different scenarios. Then the water is either going to come off the top and run out this top container into what we’re going to call runoff water. Or it’s going to be able to go through the soil profile or whatever the profile is and come out the bottom and we’re going to call that groundwater. And so as we start doing this, I want to start putting down the different scenarios where rainfall might go. This here is going to represent this land as we go back historically, what this land looked like 100, 200, 300 hundred, or 1,000 years ago. And so this, as we start looking at the state of Texas and much of the center part of the United States, much of this was in grassland prairie. Or we get in the east side of Texas where our tall pines were. They were very scattered, large trees, lots of grasses underneath them. And as we start looking, this is going to represent that land. This is primarily sides oats grama, which is our state grass of Texas. Uh, little blue stem in the back. These are deep-rooted bunch grasses that were historically here at one time. This is land the same as this here, but I’ve taken out these tall grasses and I’ve replaced them with grasses that will come up real quick after a rain event, then make a mature seed head and go dormant or die back. And included in that will also be some forbs or wildflowers that would be in there. And then also some other things there. This is going to represent our turf. We have about 30 million acres of turf in the United States. And so this is going to represent that land. This is going to be an impervious area where we started looking at is we are sealing over much of our highways, land with highways, with streets, with buildings. This is area that is sealed over, and so that’s going to represent this land. And so I’m going to put about a 1-inch rainfall event in each one of these and we’ll start looking at where the rainfall goes. I like to use this to illustrate where rainfall goes simply because we start looking at the water that we depend on, either out of the ground from our aquifers to recharge to also supply for our cities. Also we get water from our lakes that are also dependent on those springs for that base flow. And so as we start looking at those, there’s basically some things that we need to look at. And one of those is the fact that there used to be several thousand springs or maybe up to 10 thousand springs in the state of Texas at one time. Most all agree that only about 60% of those springs are still flowing. Forty percent of the springs have dried up and the other are not flowing at the same rate they did 150, 200 years ago. And so we start looking at why those springs have dried up. Not only in Texas but nationwide and worldwide those springs are dried up. And so as we start looking at that, there’s basically three reasons those springs don’t flow like they did. The first is just the fact that we’re here. And when you start looking in the state of Texas, there are 14 million people or more now in the state of Texas and each one uses over 100 gallons of water per person per day. We get into over a billion gallons that are taken out either out of our lakes or out of our aquifers every day. And so as we start looking at that, just the fact that we’re here and we’re using water for irrigation, and we use it for our landscape, we use it for in-home, for industry. We’re pulling water out of the ground in many cases much faster than it can recharge into our aquifers. And so as we start looking at a second reason. . . And the other two reason really has to do with why we don’t put water back into the ground as fast as we used to. And the first of those I’d say is the absence of fire, the impact that fire had. If we go back historically, back 200 years ago to several thousand years ago, fire was a normal process that land was that it would move through the state of Texas from east to west to north to south, on a regular basis–either from lightning strikes or as we start out looking at the native Americans used fire on a regular basis for lots of different reasons. And so the land was constantly burned over. In some cases very frequent, others very infrequent. But that fire then–there’s plants that like fire and there’s plants that do not like fire. And so as we start looking at those that like fire, they were what we call our bunch grasses–those perennial, deep-rooted bunch grasses much as what we have right here. And those grasses then also have a very deep root system. And as we start looking historically, they like fire simply and burn off and suppress other woody plants. They have a massive root system as I’d like to show you here. This is one grass called green sprangletop and we start looking at the root system of it–a very massive, fibrous root system–that these roots are constantly dying and replacing themselves. They’ll live about 3 years and then they’ll replace themselves. And so they have and they’re able to pull out lots of water and lots of energy and store it there and use it whenever fire would burn off the top of it. They would help it to come back with vigor. And so as we start looking at that, that’s what the fire did. And then also, there’s plants that do not like fire. And many of those are the woody plants, the understory plants, the invasive woody plants that come in and then take over and choke out much of our grasses. Since fire has been stopped for the last 125 years in the state of Texas, we’re seeing that it is those woody plants continue to increase and so we got much of our land into a forested type situation. Work at Sonora Experiment Station has indicated that we increase canopy cover, especially in cedar and those invasive species, less and less water goes back into the ground to recharge those aquifers. So the fact that we stopped fire, we changed this from a grassland community to a forested area in much of the state of Texas, reducing the water’s ability to go back into the ground. Then the third reason has to be the way we’ve managed animals over the last 125, 150 years. Historically, buffalo would migrate through here, graze an area down and would not come back for seasons possibly, or even years. And so with that these plants were able to be able to be grazed down and then have lots of time to recover and rebuild not only a root system but also the tops and the leaf surface and the seed heads to go along with it. But as we have come in and built our fences in the last 125, 135 years and put our cattle and sheep in there and allowed them to graze whatever they want, these tall grasses that we have here are ones that are easily selected by the livestock. We call them “ice cream” grasses because they like to eat those grasses so much. And they’ll go and eat those grasses down, continually graze those down prior to going to any other plants. And as they do that, we start looking at these plants as they graze down, these roots will last about 3 years. But as this plant is grazed short, in order to survive, it has to have leaves to catch energy from the sun. And in doing that, then, it sends all of its energy up to build new leaves and then make a seed head for then sacrificing the roots. And if we continue to graze these down on a constant basis, these roots are dying but not being replaced. And as they get smaller and smaller, we’ll see that this plant is not being replaced. This plant then fades out when it’s being overgrazed. This is the third reason why we do not have the water going back into aquifers. And we can illustrate that by looking at these three scenarios. And so as we start looking here, a raindrop first is going to hit this leaf and then gradually go down. And then we have all those stems that that water has to go through. We have all the organic matter from those dead leaves that are there on the soil surface, and so that raindrop hits here, gradually slows down, then it has a chance to go back into the ground. So when we start looking here, how much water do we have as runoff? This rainfall event we didn’t have any. So as we start looking over here, the water’s still dripping underneath here and all this water was allowed to go back into the soil and then recharge our aquifer. But when we take out these plants, the first thing we do is see this raindrop. The first thing it’s going to hit is going to be bare soil. And as it does that, it hits it with lots of impact, knocking up that soil particle and then starts moving down rapidly because nothing is there to slow it down. And so when we start looking at that, how much water did we get back into the ground? In this case we didn’t get any. Every bit of this rain came over the top and then went down as runoff. And so we lost every bit of this event simply because we didn’t have anything protecting the soil so that we could keep that water there in place and get it back into the ground. And then when we start looking at these two, there are some differences in the water color as well. And so as we start looking at these here, this one is a lot very clear, which allowed that water to move into the ground without all contamination. But when we have that water runoff, that impact of the raindrop picks up that soil and then carries it along with it. And so we see a lot of sediment that’s also being carried in this water. So our water quality goes down at the same time. It takes several hundred years to wear away rocks to rebuild 1 inch of topsoil. Off of the state of Texas we have lost several inches, maybe even 10 inches in certain areas. Off of the state of Texas it’s going now filling up our lakes from the bottom up, filling up our streams and our rivers, and going out into our bays and estuaries and then, also, have an impact on them. And so it makes a lot of difference in where this raindrop goes. And so how do I get from here back to here? Certainly we’ve got to have good management. We’ve got to be able to be able to manage this grass. Get it back established some way so we can reduce the grazing pressure that we may have on some of our land and allow it to recover. When we get into the woody species, we’ve got to either act as fire or have fire come back in. And so we’ve got to either cut down those woody plants that are so easily taken away by fire. And so we can change it back to here so we can get this water back into the ground. When we start looking at our turfgrass and majority of this here the water runs into the ground. And I didn’t get any water runoff off of this one. As we start looking at our turf area, in the state of Texas, we get more runoff that carries more pollution off of it into our sewer systems, into our drainways, into our waterways, and with it, it carries more pollutants. We use more chemicals, more fertilizer on our turf than any other land in the state of Texas. And so as I get any runoff from that area, it’s going to go straight into our streams, straight into our waterways and carry those pollutions with that. And so what we need to do here is look at ways we can reduce the amount of turf and get it into some other kind of landscape that would help move that water back into the ground rather than reuse stormwater runoff. Now, lastly, want to look over here at this last one here, our impervious area, and see what happens here whenever we have a rain event. And that was a flood right there. But as we start looking at this here, where does this rainfall go? And when we start looking at it, very little of it is going to go into the ground. And every bit of it and probably all of it is going to go run off. And so as we start looking at our streets and our highways or parking lots, even our buildings there, then we see the water is going to run off and run off in as runoff. And stormwater that runs off. And as it moves across our landscape, then it’s going to carry those pollutions along with that. And so we want to do here, start looking at some way that I can reduce the amount of water that runs off. And so the one thing we can do is we can talk about catchment there. And I can use everything from a rain barrel into a larger catchment and be able to catch the majority of that water that comes off that roof. For every 1 square foot of roof we can get 1 inch of rainfall. We get about 6/10ths of a gallon of water that’s going to come off. But once we’ve got our containers full and it rains, especially on our landscape, we want to make our landscape a sponge so that we can slow that water down and get much more of it into the ground rather than have it run off. And so I not only capture off of a roof but also be able to capture in our landscape to reduce stormwater runoff and the pollution it carries along with it. So our rainfall simulator can give us an idea of where rainfall goes when it rains. And so we need to start looking at how I can manage from larger areas there to reduce stormwater runoff in my open spaces to looking at in our turf to make sure I get as little runoff as I can, and then we start looking off of our houses and our buildings and our streets and our parking lots to be able to capture that water and get as much of it as I can, keep it there on site. And then whenever it does leave, I want it to leave as slow and as clear as it can.