Water Flow: Agriculture vs. Urban

When humans interact with the land, it effects the environment. How much? According to Michael Cahn, Irrigation and Water Resource Advisor Monterey County UCCE, presents that dissolved salts in irrigation water present numerous challenges to growers. “Soils irrigated with alkaline water (high bicarbonate) may have reduced availability of micro nutrients such as iron, copper, manganese, and zinc. This has a dangerous effect on the crops. In addition, “salts reduce the osmotic potential of water and the high sodium levels can also reduce the rate that water infiltrates into soil.” As a result, it has dramatic effects to the water flow, for instead the water evaporates instead of infiltrating the soil. And since California is currently in a drought, it can’t afford to have water evaporate, especially, when growers already use excessive water for agriculture.

How does this agriculture space differ from urban space? Urbanized surfaces do not collect and contain water like natural surfaces. According to Bertrand’s CSUMB capstone/thesis paper, “Monitoring Urban Sprawl in Salinas City (1985-1999): Using Remote Sensing Techniques” (2000), he argues that infiltration is one of the most important components of hydrological cycle, through which the soil system is recharged with water. “Infiltration allows the soils of an area to be recharged with water until it can be released safely back into a stream system or evaporate.”Urbanized surfaces do not collect and contain water like natural surfaces. Bertrand argues that the construction of parking lots, streets, sidewalks, homes, and buildings created impervious surfaces that typically do not allow infiltration to occur.


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