As Bill Finch, the renowned gardening guru in south Alabama, points out, it can be successfully argued that Alabama is “the wettest state on the North American continent.”
Alabama cities are significantly wetter than their counterparts in Europe. They even get more rainfall than U.S. cities such as Seattle.
We are soggy statewide. This summer, Finch notes, it seems like “every inch of the 33 million acres of Alabama is on the verge of becoming a rainforest.”
That certainly seems the case here in the northeast corner of the state, where streams are out of their banks, lakes are full and farm ponds are lapping over their dams.
Finch’s emphasis, in a recent column on al.com, is on how ill-advised practices by gardeners, homeowners and farmers have altered the “architecture” of the soil so that it cannot handle the rain. His suggestions for how to better manage the soil and reduce the chance of droughts when there is less rain than we have today are wise. We should listen to them.
However, this abundance of rainfall should not cause us to forget that Alabama lags far behind other states when it comes to managing this precious resource. Because we have so much, our leaders have been slow in developing a comprehensive water-management plan, a design that would show where there is abundant ground water and where it is lacking. We do not have a sound scheme to inspect and certify the hundreds of farm ponds sprinkled around the state, ponds that hold water that could do considerable damage if a dam broke. Nor have we put in place a plan for irrigating farms when the rain doesn’t fall when and where it is needed.
Yes, we are a wet state, but so far we have not made the most of this blessing. It is time we did.