Inspiration for Spotty Rain
For us, Spotty Rain is a place to wonder about the relationship between people (land and livelihood) and water (rain and groundwater) in times of agricultural drought.
The idea for Spotty Rain came after Nicole visited the Union County Fair, and then evolved as she interviewed farmers, ranchers, and community members for 6 weeks in the Summer and Fall of 2014. The UC Fair would be her first event in the community and she brought a groundwater display to share with the kids who visited our booth. They seemed to love it. We played with a rising and lowering water table, used food coloring to trace water flow, and tried to recall our previous knowledge about the water cycle. The fair kept students busy showing animals, but before long the kids were stopping by to do their own demonstrations and test experiments involving wetlands, wells, and rivers.
One important point about the groundwater display is the way it oversimplifies our understanding about the timescale and geography of water flow. This fun animation describes the big picture. For the 5-states area, some research from Kansas State explains the past, present, and future of the Ogallala Aquifer--and the impacts for folks in agriculture.
At the fair, I learned that several New Mexico Soil and Water Districts have contracted with Zielger Geological Consulting to map area water resources. You can learn more about this homegrown hydrogeology effort which includes several counties in NE New Mexico.