Take a proactive approach to another year of drought

Take a proactive approach to another year of drought

By: By PETTUS L. READ Tennessee Farm Bureau

A few days ago, I passed a church sign that had some really good words of wisdom lettered upon it. It said, “Don’t be caught leaning on the handle of a shovel while praying for a hole.” If that is not profound then I don’t know what is.
Last year, on Tennessee farmers, we spent a lot of time involved in very needed prayer due to cold weather, hot weather, high costs, no water, no rain and a lot of other negatives that were way beyond our power to change. The only hope seemed to come from the heavens above and finally did in the form of needed rain in many parts of the state.
That was back in 2007 and now we are off and running in 2008 with hopes of a better year this go around. And now is not the time to be leaning on the proverbial shovel handle as mentioned in that church sign I saw while traveling Tennessee’s back roads. It is time to act! The good Lord will help where He can, but it is up to us to also get involved and help ourselves.
There is a very good possibility that this year could also be another growing season without the rainfall we really need. The current drought began way back in 2004 and many professionals are predicting that we are only halfway through. There has not been normal rainfall in many parts of the state in four years, which means current groundwater levels are still low even though we have had some pretty good rains in some parts of the state. The rains seen recently in West and Middle Tennessee were not realized in the southern Cumberland Plateau, extreme southeast counties of the state, and in northeast Tennessee east of a line from about Gatlinburg to Morristown to Sneedville.
In a recent report from the National Weather Service, Brian Boyd, senior service hydrologist in Morristown said, “Rainfall deficits remain substantial to critical. While the recent rains have been a huge help, unfortunately they are not drought busters. Droughts are not typically ‘busted’ but rather go away quietly over a long period.”
Unfortunately, most of us tend to focus on drought problems when it is right upon us, like it was this last year. When that happens it usually ends up costing us more in the long run. Often, it also can be help coming too late with too little to do away with the problem. Maybe this early in 2008 it is time to quit leaning on the shovel handle and use it for what it is intended for. Of course, that is to dig a hole.
With spring not that far off and winter rains not currently closing in on the state’s rainfall deficits, maybe we need to take a proactive approach to dealing with the possibilities of another year of drought conditions. The big question however is just what are the proactive measures we must take.
Maybe a renewed interest in how our lakes are used in the future could be a start. At one time lakes around the state were built for the prime purpose of providing flood control. They also became a source of low cost energy and today they are looked at by many as only a provider of outdoor recreation which had very little to do with the early intent of these water sources. It is time to place recreation lower on the list of lake usages and work more toward water storage.
Since this past summer, every major waterway, lake and pond is considered as someone’s water supply. It is starting to look like we may be entering an era of water wars with state against state, city against city and even state agencies against farmers. In the Bible in Matthew 5:45 it says He sends rain on the just and unjust alike and when it rains on my property I consider that moisture from above as mine. However, some of our state agencies currently are not seeing it that way and are wanting to control those few drops that splash on my and your side of the fence. If we are going to make it through another year like the last one, it will take a lot of understanding on everyone’s part. That includes those going overboard on the environment as well. Especially some government regulators who for some reason no longer understand who they work for which are the people they serve.
It is time to start planning for the possibility of another dry year. Maybe it will not happen, but if it does we need to have our game plan ready. Working together and using common sense will be a good start.
We will need to continue to pray for God’s help, but He does not expect us to rest on the shovel handle while He does all the work. It is time to start digging some holes.
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Editor’s note: Pettus L. Read may be contacted by e-mail at pread@tfbf.com.
Published in The Messenger 1.8.08

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