mbender
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Re: Western USA drought worst in modern era

Wed Jun 03, 2015 1:03 pm

At the very least however ;-), I am on one group's mailing list, and even though they're quite narrowly-focused*, they do provide some good/general "watch dog" alerts. This one arrived just this morning:


In a nutshell for anyone unfamiliar, the "Pumps" export large amounts of fresh water from the delta down south. Even prior to the drought, this practice had harmed the ecosystem here by allowing salt water to come farther and farther inland. Now in the drought, with less fresh water present to begin (the year), the threat and consequences of further incursion of salinity become worse and worse.


* "Restore the Delta" is single-mindedly focused on defeating Jerry Brown's ill-conceived "BDCP/Tunnels Project". While their aim and activity is also noble (imho), more needs to be done to solve the water problems here than just not making things worse!
I think I just felt my paradigm shift.

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Sondy132001
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Re: Western USA drought worst in modern era

Wed Jun 03, 2015 1:18 pm

mbender wrote:I hope that people here appreciate that all of the actions in the above two posts, while admirable, are so tiny compared to the magnitude of the water problems (and their requisite solutions) that the state faces. Even if every single resident cut their water use in HALF, which would be a small miracle, it would only conserve 10% of developed water in California. The big problem is cheap/subsidized water for agriculture, large corporate farms that take advantage of both it and (as smkettner says) the outdated system of water-rights, which allow them to suck as much groundwater as they can for next to nothing.

So even though personal sacrifices and the design & implementation of new efficiencies are all well and good, fighting for changes at higher levels might actually be a more effective use of time and energy... albeit a little less comfortable, certain in outcome, and/or "tangible". (And this is not to imply that I am a model of such behavior!)


Agreed but I am doing my part and we have been mandated by our water department to cut 24%, so I am willing to do this, even with the prospect that by the end of summer we'll get a hike in costs because we did "too good" and they lost money and didn't make a profit. Just wait till El Nino hits, who'll be laughing then ?
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mwalsh
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Re: Western USA drought worst in modern era

Wed Jun 03, 2015 1:27 pm

Sondy132001 wrote:Agreed but I am doing my part and we have been mandated by our water department to cut 24%, so I am willing to do this, even with the prospect that by the end of summer we'll get a hike in costs because we did "too good" and they lost money and didn't make a profit. Just wait till El Nino hits, who'll be laughing then ?



+1. I'm positive that mbender is speaking to our efforts in the nicest possible way, but for me it's fighting the battles I have the time and energy to fight right now, while trying (very hard) to keep my other collective sh*t together.

Taking on Big Agriculture is a step too far for me at this point in time, though I laud those with the time, energy, and commitment to do it on our behalf.
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edatoakrun
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Re: Western USA drought worst in modern era

Sat Jun 06, 2015 10:09 am

Those of you trying to save a few gallons of precious Colorado or Sacramento river water by filling a bucket when you take a shower, might want to reflect on the gross insanity detailed in the excellent report below, on why farmers are still planting cotton in these watersheds, even though a world-wide glut resulting from overproduction has already caused the price of cotton to plummet:

Today, as the Colorado River enters its 15th year of drought, the nation’s largest reservoirs have been diminished to relative puddles. Power plants that depend on dams along the river face shortages and shutdowns that could send water and electricity prices skyrocketing. Many of the region’s farmers have been forced to fallow fields.

The still-blooming cotton farms of Arizona are emblematic of the reluctance to make choices that seem obvious. The Wuertz family has received government checks just for putting cottonseeds in the ground and more checks when the price of cotton fell. They have benefited from cheap loans for cotton production that don’t have to be fully repaid if the market slumps. Most recently, the government has covered almost the entire premium on their cotton crop insurance, guaranteeing they’ll be financially protected even when natural conditions — like drought — keep them from producing a good harvest...

The payments, part of the U.S. Farm Bill, are a legacy of Dust Bowl-era programs that live on today at the urging of the national cotton lobby and the insurance industry. Similar subsidies support corn, rice, wheat and, indirectly, alfalfa — all of which also use lots of water. But in Arizona one of the driest states in the nation, it’s cotton that has received the most federal aid, tipping the balance on farmers’ decisions about what to plant.

Over the last 20 years, Arizona’s farmers have collected more than $1.1 billion in cotton subsidies, nine times more than the amount paid out for the next highest subsidized crop. In California, where cotton also gets more support than most other crops, farmers received more than $3 billion in cotton aid...

https://projects.propublica.org/killing ... ght-crisis
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Nubo
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Re: Western USA drought worst in modern era

Sat Jun 06, 2015 7:42 pm

Just washed LEAF Thursday, first time since maybe January so I don't feel particularly guilty. Thanks to drought, lazy/cheap people like me with dirty cars and brown yards can now appear virtuous. :P
I noticed you're still working with polymers.

edatoakrun
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Re: Western USA drought worst in modern era

Sun Jun 07, 2015 11:11 am

Click the link for a good drought map of the western States, showing how widespread the drought is (pretty much the entire contiguous USA west of the continental divide) and how the worst (exceptional drought) conditions have hit central California and west-central Nevada.

http://www.capradio.org/articles/2015/0 ... alifornia/

Woranuch Joyce / Capital Public Radio

Extreme drought conditions expanded by 3 percent in California the past week, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor released June 4.

"Dry conditions and increasing temperatures returned to the Southwest U.S. after an unseasonably cool and wet May led to an unexpected green-up of ranges and pastures in parts of southern and eastern California, Nevada, and western Arizona," the report stated. "But the May weather did nothing to ease the long-term drought."...
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GRA
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Re: Western USA drought worst in modern era

Sun Jun 07, 2015 3:46 pm

Nubo wrote:Just washed LEAF Thursday, first time since maybe January so I don't feel particularly guilty. Thanks to drought, lazy/cheap people like me with dirty cars and brown yards can now appear virtuous. :P
My car gets washed once a year whether it needs it or not, on my birthday (if I'm in town). A local car wash gives free washes on your birthday. Otherwise, that's what rain is for. :D It's a good thing I'm allergic to many grasses too -unfortunately it only developed in adulthood, or I wouldn't have had to mow the lawns for my allowance. So, I don't have any grass or lawn where I live (and had a 'medical' excuse for not mowing when I did have them), although the live oak overhanging my yard keeps me busy picking up its dead leaves and putting them in the organic recycling bin - damned natural litterbug and fire hazard! I do water the young sapling curb tree with my sink and shower warm-up water, especially the last year or two, but that's the extent of my watering. You're right, I'm not cheap or lazy, I'm _virtuous_, at least I am once every five years or so when drought recurs :lol:

Meanwhile, some reading recommendations. Our latest drought has recently got me reading 'water and the west' type books again. I'm reading Wallace Stegner's "Beyond the Hundredth Meridian", an account of John Wesley Powell's career (where he fought back against all the boosters claiming that 'rain follows the plow' etc., by pointing out with scientific facts that the west is desert and semi-desert, and water is the controlling factor. I've just finished "A Great Aridness: Climate Change and the Future of the American Southwest" by William deBuys. Here's one review:

http://www.americanscientist.org/booksh ... ter-future

but there are many more. The most interesting thing to me is that deBuys points out that even if there's _no_ climate change, the _existing_ population in the Southwest is already overdrawing water to an unsustainable extent, and the population is forecast to keep increasing. I like deBuys 'style, as he lays out the situation calmly, factually and quietly.

I'm about half way through "When the Rivers Run Dry: Water--The Defining Crisis of the Twenty-first Century" by Fred Pearce. This looks at water shortages in many countries instead of just one part of the U.S. Pearce's tone is more polemical than deBuys, and I dislike that so am finding it a somewhat harder read, as it tends towards the "alarmist, Armageddonist factoids" tone of too much environmental writing. The facts are disturbing enough for me.

It's been at least a decade since I last read "Cadillac Desert", so it's time for another re-read. And I've also just read Stegner's essay collection "Where the Bluebird Sings to the Lemonade Springs: Living and Writing in the West". Inevitably many of the essays are repetitive, but I'm just getting into Stegner, and like his style; I've also got "Angle of Repose" here, and "Desert Solitaire", as it's also time for a re-read of that. Like many conventional environmentalists I have a love/hate relationship with Edward Abbey, and even in this, his best book, there are often jarring notes (e.g. the rabbit bit), but when he wasn't playing the buffoon, he could write. ISTR I read much of DS on a solo trip into the (California) White Mountains, particularly an afternoon spent sitting at Patriarch grove which is certainly dry enough for Utah, if basin and range rather than plateau province.

The trigger for (re-)reading all of these now (plus one of Bernard DeVoto's books on the west) has been "All the Wild that Remains" by David Gessner: http://www.amazon.com/All-The-Wild-That ... 0393089991

which quotes from all of these and more.
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Sondy132001
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Re: Western USA drought worst in modern era

Mon Jun 08, 2015 3:25 pm

No offense but you're missing the point here, our Water District is mandating a 24% cut in water consumption or get fined, so this is something we "HAVE TO DO", so I can read these articles all day, but it doesn't negate the fact I have to cut 24% so I am !

edatoakrun wrote:Those of you trying to save a few gallons of precious Colorado or Sacramento river water by filling a bucket when you take a shower, might want to reflect on the gross insanity detailed in the excellent report below, on why farmers are still planting cotton in these watersheds, even though a world-wide glut resulting from overproduction has already caused the price of cotton to plummet:

Today, as the Colorado River enters its 15th year of drought, the nation’s largest reservoirs have been diminished to relative puddles. Power plants that depend on dams along the river face shortages and shutdowns that could send water and electricity prices skyrocketing. Many of the region’s farmers have been forced to fallow fields.

The still-blooming cotton farms of Arizona are emblematic of the reluctance to make choices that seem obvious. The Wuertz family has received government checks just for putting cottonseeds in the ground and more checks when the price of cotton fell. They have benefited from cheap loans for cotton production that don’t have to be fully repaid if the market slumps. Most recently, the government has covered almost the entire premium on their cotton crop insurance, guaranteeing they’ll be financially protected even when natural conditions — like drought — keep them from producing a good harvest...

The payments, part of the U.S. Farm Bill, are a legacy of Dust Bowl-era programs that live on today at the urging of the national cotton lobby and the insurance industry. Similar subsidies support corn, rice, wheat and, indirectly, alfalfa — all of which also use lots of water. But in Arizona one of the driest states in the nation, it’s cotton that has received the most federal aid, tipping the balance on farmers’ decisions about what to plant.

Over the last 20 years, Arizona’s farmers have collected more than $1.1 billion in cotton subsidies, nine times more than the amount paid out for the next highest subsidized crop. In California, where cotton also gets more support than most other crops, farmers received more than $3 billion in cotton aid...

https://projects.propublica.org/killing ... ght-crisis
2012 Nissan Leaf SL with QC 23,362 miles as of 3/5/15 Cayenne Red Mission Viejo, CA

Lost my 4th bar @ 49,474 miles 11-19-17

mbender
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Re: Western USA drought worst in modern era

Mon Jun 08, 2015 6:16 pm

Sondy132001 wrote:No offense but you're missing the point here, our Water District is mandating a 24% cut in water consumption or get fined, so this is something we "HAVE TO DO", so I can read these articles all day, but it doesn't negate the fact I have to cut 24% so I am !

Also... having unfortunately become a "comment reader", I noticed that more than a few readers of that long piece took issue with it, in what it focused on and/or omitted. One such:
J. Wechsler wrote:I am a great fan of ProPublica but this article is seriously off the mark and both misrepresents and obscures the problems. The most important of these is western water law, which emanated from placer mining rather than from farming, and which gives rights based on first to claim rather than on best use. Read 'Cadillac Desert'. Water rights turned into power; power dictates politics. The idea that, if senior water rights holders did not have Federal subsidies for cotton, there would be enough water is ridiculous. If it were not cotton, it would be another crop; if it were not a senior water right holder, it would be a junior right holder. Water rights far exceed the existing water. Then, add the fact that ground water was categorized separately and, at first, not understood as connected to surface water, and you begin to get a better picture. Finally, your story focuses on Arizona with the most failed water project and with the most junior claim on the river because of a bargain it made. The water shortage, which has indeed been coming for decades, is from unfortunate polices, with fooish, self-serving and often corrupt policies and actions piled on top, but the fundamental error was and is treating the southwest desert as a greenhouse with water on demand for farming and other human uses.

But "having said that", I am no fan of conventionally grown cotton, particularly due to the heavy use of pesticides and insecticides on it, and the fact that so much of it now is genetically modified. And even though this thread isn't really about the effect individual actions might make ;-) , my response is to buy less and to buy organic (cotton, within reason).

Back to water, though: I so look forward to serious desalination efforts -- discussion, funding and construction, on a massive level and (yes) federally subsidized because of the great benefits they will yield -- but am not confident that I will see them (i.e., in time, before they become desperately needed, painfully obvious, and hastily designed and built).
I think I just felt my paradigm shift.

2012 SL (One of the colors): 2-year lease, 2012+,
2015 S w/QC (A different color): 3-year lease, 2014+,
2017 SV (Same color as 2015 S): 3-year lease, 2017+, lower monthly than either above(!)

edatoakrun
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Re: Western USA drought worst in modern era

Tue Jun 09, 2015 9:31 am

="mbender"
Sondy132001 wrote:No offense but you're missing the point here, our Water District is mandating a 24% cut in water consumption or get fined, so this is something we "HAVE TO DO", so I can read these articles all day, but it doesn't negate the fact I have to cut 24% so I am !

...I so look forward to serious desalination efforts -- discussion, funding and construction, on a massive level and (yes) federally subsidized...

Desalinization is much more expensive and energy intensive then treating wastewater for reuse, which is already being done on a large scale, though those on the tap side of toilet to tap seem to prefer not to notice.

I'm not "missing the point" that California residents face mandates to restrict their water use, I am pointing out that almost unimaginable quantities of water are still being wasted in inefficient uses, due to various government subsidy programs, make many of these government mandates absurd.

Maybe these points are best illustrated by the Redding CA municipal water system.

Even though the city is located on the Sacramento River, it has very limited rights to use the water that flows through it each day. Like all other municipal water agencies, Redding residents face mandatory cutbacks (and are also taking measures such as collecting buckets of water in their showers) even though all the water that enters the Redding sewer system is not "wasted", but treated, and then released back into the Sacramento river.

This treated wastewater is available (some time later) at the Delta pumping stations, and eventually flows from the taps of Central and Southern California residents.

Notice that Redding's two wastewater treatment plants are placed on opposite banks of the Sacramento River:

http://www.ci.redding.ca.us/municipalut ... _11x17.pdf
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