A City Girl

This is the story of a city girl who came out west with her new husband. She was shocked to discover how little water was available on the land and how barren it was. What do the cattle eat? Rocks? She rediscovered an ancient method of harvesting water.

Over three decades later, thousands of rock dams in the mountains are now capturing water and silt. Soil behind a dam becomes a sponge which holds water over long periods of time. Canyons that were dry before are now damp and able once again to grow flowers that had long since disappeared. The tall, stately trees in the canyons, once fuel for forest fires, are now able to survive a fire.

Eventually the project grew into Mexico. Along the border between Mexico and the U.S., crews are building much larger structures, putting rocks into wire baskets and digging the line of baskets into areas that flood during the monsoons or rainy period. By this method, a river that was formerly dusty and dry most of the year is now a stream flowing for many miles. Trees and grasses are flourishing. Animals are returning to the area and using it as a migratory corridor.

A foundation has been formed to teach others how to do this work in arid regions. The foundation is called Cuenca Los Ojos. Cuenca means watershed and ojos springs. Cuenca also means “eye socket” and ojos “eyes” so the meaning is “watershed of springs” and also “seeing deeply.”

Valer Austin