March 02, 2011
Could the solution be under the city itself in the vast and ancient irrigation networks of the Hohokam people?
At a time when water is still relatively inexpensive and abundant, at least in the industrialized world, it is easy to forget that controlling water
was a necessary first step to feed and quench the thirst of the people who built the first cities. Brian Fagan's soon-to-be-released book Elixir: A
History of Water and Humankind, provides an in-depth examination of the history of water control. For thousands of years, societies have found
inventive ways to provide water for their fields and their people in spite of fickle climates. It is no exaggeration to say that civilization itself
is built on a foundation of water. This excerpt from Fagan's book centers on the Hohokam people, who used an elaborate network of canals to support a
society that flourished in the area around Phoenix, Arizona, until about 550 years ago.
Looks like the problem of an upcoming water crisis and fix may right under their feet. It seems with so called modernization in the last century we
have covered up and paved over important resources. This problem is not only in Arizona but all of the Western states, the Colorado is drying up and
droughts are more frequent in those areas of our country.
Building dams and diverting water has caused a lot of problems, geologists are finding, here is an article pointing out some of the advantages and
disadvantages. It doesn't seem to have improved the quality of life in the long run. The Hohokam people may have had it right, technology doesn't
Dams - The Advantages and Disadvantages
Dams have been built with the intention to improve human quality of life by diverting water for power, navigation, and flood control, but have also
resulted in human health concerns and environmental problems. Dams benefit people by providing usable, reliable water sources. In the once swampy San
Joaquin Valley, Calif., they have created an area that now provides a quarter of America's food supply. Hydroelectric dams provide 13% of the total
power generation in the United States which prevents over 200 million tons of carbon dioxide emissions. They make 70% of the power generated in Latin
America. However, dam projects can produce greenhouse gases by flooding areas and increasing the rate of decomposition, emitting carbon dioxide and
methane. A UN commission was set up in 1997 to monitor and evaluate impacts of current, existing and future dams (both positive and negative). The one
thing that remains clear is that the need for energy and water will not go away.
The Hohokam Indians
The Hohokam inhabited the Tucson Basin from about 300 to 1400 A.D. These people lived successfully in the desert, even without the technology of
today's society. Using only the natural materials from their immediate surroundings, the Hohokam were able to meet all of their survival needs.
For shelter, they built "pit houses" by digging a pit one to two feet deep and as big around as the builder wanted with most ten to twelve feet
across. Although digging was difficult in the hard caliche soil of the Tucson Basin, the Hohokam used various tools including rocks, sticks, and clay
edit on 3-3-2011 by Aquarius1 because: (no reason given)