On Thursday, September 24th Stream Dynamics hosted a Bike Tour of water harvesting projects as part of the 11th annual Gila River Festival. Twenty bikes of all varieties joined us on a tour of 20 project sites. Although we have been building water harvesting projects within the Town of Silver City since 2008, our current project is to build 80 water harvesting projects! This ambitious mega-project is funded through a grant from the New Mexico Environment Department as part of their River Stewardship program. So far we have built 9 new projects, so we only have 71 more to go!
Water Harvesting creates public greenspaces within the right of way adjacent to the roads. These greenspaces are known to have a calming effect on the resident human population, especially drivers. As our streets become more shaded and beautiful, more people start walking and biking. This has been demonstrated effectively in Tucson, Arizona.
Last Fall, we went to a conference on Green Infrastructure in Tucson put on by the Border Environment Cooperation Commission. The best presentation was by guy named Dr. Richard Johnson, formerly with the Center for Disease Control in Washington, D.C. He has been studying the effects of infrastructure in cities for many years. He showed us amazing results. One example was of some public housing high rise complex in the industrial East. There were two identical high rise apartment buildings side by side, but they ran out of budget for landscaping and only landscaped one of the buildings. The front of one building had large trees and some nice grass and a relatively nice place to hang out, and the other building had bare dirt all around it. Low income people were randomly assigned apartments in the two buildings. A study was done years later about the living conditions at the complex. They looked at things like the incidence of various diseases, the crime rate, etc. The statistical evidence was overwhelming that the people who lived in the building with the nice landscaping led healthier, happier lives, spent more time outside, tended to know their neighbors, had a lower crime rate, and even a lower diabetes rate!
In Silver City, New Mexico we are following the good example of Watershed Management Group from Tucson Arizona. There is a growing culture of bicycling and water harvesting. These two things go hand in hand. We are creating beautiful spaces in our town, and then we enjoy walking and bicycling through them.
The last stop on the water harvesting tour was at the watering hole at the office of Stream Dynamics. Bike riding is thirsty work, and merits a cold beer at the end of the ride!