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Southern Baja – Unique and Universal Water Challenges

The Baja Peninsula forms an unusual geographic feature – running about 800 miles as the crow flies from the Mexico/California border at Tijuana down to the holiday and fishing port of Cabo San Lucas on the southern tip.

On the western side of the peninsula lies the vastness of the Pacific Ocean, running cold currents and seasonally large surf up against the Baja Desert shorelines, and creating mist and moisture under certain conditions. The Sea of Cortez (also known as the Gulf of California) lies to the east, a relatively shallow, narrow, calm and warm body of water – home to a unique and rich ecosystem. Endemic creatures are common including resident populations of Fin Whales and Sperm Whales, as well as migratory species such as the Humpback Whale, California Gray Whale, Killer Whale, blue whales, Manta Ray and Leatherback Sea Turtles. The area has been badly affected from the practical cessation of flow of the Colorado River, which historically emptied into the northern tip of the sea.

Notwithstanding abundant sports fishing records from the area, fisheries management has been an issue, as is coastal development – which is now part of a macro-level, tourist development vision for the Gulf promoted by the government and private interests. The future of the region will be in part determined by the way in which such a vision can be implemented. Traditional models of development will need to be modified in order to harmonize with the desert climate. If done successfully, it could bring needed resources into the region and provide an alternative to the fishing focus of some parts of the region, and contribute to a more conservation focused model of regional development.

A spine of mountains – the Peninsular Ranges are a group of mountain ranges which stretch 1,500 km (900 miles) from southern California in the United States to the southern tip of Mexico’s Baja California peninsula. They are part of the North American Coast Ranges that run along the Pacific coast from Alaska to Mexico. Elevations range from 500 ft to 11,500 ft (150 m to 3,500 m). The southern end of the Baja California Peninsula includes the Sierra de la Laguna, which rise up to about 7,500 feet. Formerly an island, this region evolved in relative isolation from the northern part of the peninsula.

Classified as being part of the Neotropic ecozone, it is linked by species affinity with southern Mexico and Central America. It includes three distinct ecoregions, the Sierra de la Laguna dry forests, Sierra de la Laguna pine-oak forests, and San Lucan xeric scrub.

The Project

Our 20-acre project site for Baja BioSana is nestled into the base of La Laguna Biosphere Reserve, and includes sections of both dry forest and xeric scrub vegetation. 80% of the land was formerly cleared for grazing and some farming; the site falls within the rain fed irrigation ejido community of El Chorro. The La Laguna mountains act to condense moisture and provide year round stream flow. This is dammed at the village of El Chorro to provide the basis of the irrigation water. Hot springs also erupt from the rocks just above the small barrier dam – providing for a refreshing soak after a hard day’s work.

Our northern site boundary falls literally within 50 yards of the line of the tropic of Cancer. Abundant sunshine and decent sandy soils evolved from the granitic base make for fertile production and food quality – the key though is water. This same key has pushed tourism development on the coast towards desalination and greywater/sewage water reclamation. A 9-hole golf course may draw up to 1 million liters of water per day during the dry season to maintain the greens using current management techniques. Pumping of such quantities of water from coastal aquifers typically leads to saltwater intrusion, particularly in a desert climate.

The dry season typically follows a pattern spanning 8 months of the year, with rain concentrated in the months from July – October (87% of precipitation falls during this wet season). The key then to water management is capturing as much of this wet seasonal flush as possible, mainly in the soil, and extending the impact of the short wet season into the drier time of the year.

Water is the focus of rising consciousness, being expressed in different forms. "LIVE H2O: Concert for the Living Waters" is a planetary event featuring Grammy Award winning musicians and music lovers from around the world, called to social activism based on new discoveries about water, 528Hz Frequency, and other revelations fundamental to science and religion. Dr. Leonard Horowitz and Dr. Masaru Emoto are the co-creators of LIVE H2O. Organizers plan to embed 1440 video players on websites worldwide, broadcasting concerts from more than a dozen international stages. Full details about this historic event can be found at www.liveh2o.org. Baja BioSana is taking part in this historic event promoting love and unity.

  • Friday June 19: Drumming, Music, and Celebration of Breath at Baja BioSana and hot springs at El Chorro in Agua Caliente.
  • Saturday June 20: Live Music, Aguamo Exhibit, and the film “Water,” celebrating the opening of Il Forno Di Gio restaurant in the Grand Mayan Golf Course Lounge, San Jose.
  • Sunday June 21: Showing the film “Water” and concert by the ocean with the band “Jaya” at the Yandara Yoga Institute near Todos Santos.

Following this musical celebration of water, wet season extension will be the focus of our week long drought proofing and water-harvesting workshop, taking place from June 24-30. The workshop is structured to combine theory and practice, as we initiate key water harvesting earthworks on the Baja BioSana site.

The region of southern Baja is also unique climatically in that an estimated 65% of the world’s biota can be grown here. Dry tropics means much less issues with fungi, mold and some of the common challenges of the wet tropics. It is also a region that has a focus on the promotion of organic agriculture.

An abundant mix of opportunities and challenges is present, so come and join us as we explore solution-based approaches to water management in Baja, break ground on earthworks at Baja BioSana and share some of the knowledge so pertinent to the Baja region. Take some extra time to explore the unique ecology of the area and learn a little of the magic of Baja that keeps many returning or setting up their base in the region.

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