OT Just how bad is the drought? Just curious OT


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mouse from merced

Trad climber
The finger of fate, my friends, is fickle.
Aug 22, 2014 - 08:27am PT
Thanks for posting the Merced article, DMT. I'd have likely not seen it.

"Green, who’s credited with drafting Stanislaus County’s groundwater ordinance, brings nearly four decades of technical expertise to the job."

The author of the article has a way with gerunds.

When I spoke with Stan Callen yesterday in the Cinema Cafe, he was ready to harvest his almond crop this year. His friends like to come help and drink his beer while doing so. As always with good old Stan, he's a party dog and looking for ways to beat the cost of living. My brother Tim and Stan rented places together in Tahoe and at Kirkwood in the past.

He said he'll always be a drip irrigation orchardist, mainly because it is precisely what is called for in this type of permanent agriculture in an arid place like Merced County. Besides, the flooding makes a mess of your boots if you haven't rubberized ones when you walk the orchard and it's all muddy from flood irrigation, which he never used, but his father did until he convinced him to swing to plastic lines and spitting. Cheaper in the long run, too.


Trad climber
greater Boss Angeles area
Aug 22, 2014 - 08:34am PT
The grovers in Redlands switched from flooding the orange groves to drip irrigation years ago. The only orange grove I know of that still floods is the grove owned by the City of Redlands in Prospect Park, although the new orange grove The City planted across the street from Moore Jr High has gone plastic.

In my neighborhood, a bunch of the orange groves have been replaced with avocados, which need much less water. Flooding avocados is a good way to kill them.

Mountain climber
Colorado, Nepal & Okinawa
Aug 22, 2014 - 08:48am PT
Here's how the Japanese solved the water problem in Okinawa when I first moved there. They simply turned the water off at the city storage tanks for longer and longer periods of time. The worst was one 18 month stretch when our water was completely off for 48 hours and on for only 24. We lived with big barrels of water that we dipped into for flushing the toilet and taking bucket baths. Nobody ran dishwashers or washing machines except every three days. No lawn watering or washing of cars ever. Car washes were shut down and compensated by the Japanese government. Restaurants used paper plates.

Later on, when restrictions eased, the wealthier put water tanks on their roofs. Even so, they had to be careful with water usage so as not to run out. Finally, the Japanese government had built enough dams and reservoirs to store enough water to get us through dry times since our only water came from rainfall. One good typhoon a year was enough to fill them.

The situation had been allowed to deteriorate enough to get to the 24 on, 48 off stage, by the American military authorities who governed the island from 1945 - 1972. And that was the good old days when our government functioned better than it does now.

I think when the crisis gets bad enough in California and you too have dry faucets for a day or two at a time, then finally a sensible solution will emerge. Crisis management seems to be one of our cultural characteristics. As the British say,"the situation is desperate, but not yet serious".


Social climber
Aug 22, 2014 - 12:12pm PT
hey there say, ed... thanks for sharing, along with DMT's share...

say, so now, can you share any info on what this means, as to these
movements of the earth?

is it something that can cause fault lines, to trigger
earthquakes in any more of a way, than they
'may be set for' now?

thanks, as i was wondering about this, as, calif
has this earthquake activity going on behind the scenes,
daily, as it is, for years now... is this a 'getting worse' type kick-in... ?
that drought will allow?
mike m

Trad climber
black hills
Aug 22, 2014 - 12:30pm PT
How much water would be in those lakes if human use were eliminated? Would there still be a drought?
Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
Aug 23, 2014 - 10:12pm PT

I was driving back from Tuolumne Meadows today and saw a very low Lake Don Pedro, I thought it might have been the lowest I've seen it since moving back to California... I usually get a look on the trip to the Valley or Tuolumne Meadows.

Downloading the data

and a bit more work I confirmed that it is the lowest since 1995, the year I returned...

Credit: Ed Hartouni

though you can see there have been other low years recently, just not as low as this year. And the recent draught seems to have lasted a but longer.
Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
Aug 23, 2014 - 11:41pm PT
240 Gt is a lot of water...

I had wondered as the amount of energy to pump that much water to the surface...

in California, well depths in San Joaquin county average something like 3500 feet (1067 m) where as in Sacramento they're more like 500 feet (152 m).

The science article shows the "mass deficit" map:
Fig. 3 Maps of estimated loads and predicted and residual displacement...
Fig. 3 Maps of estimated loads and predicted and residual displacements.

Credit: Ed Hartouni
(A) Loading estimate for the western USA in March 2014. Redder areas indicate negative loading (mass deficit relative to the 2003-2012 mean), bluer areas indicate positive loading (mass surplus), and white areas are unchanged. (B) Vertical displacements corresponding to loading model in left panel, at the locations of the GPS stations used in this analysis (compare to actual displacements in rightmost panel of Fig. 2).

So calculating the total energy required to pump the water:

E = mgh/e

where m is the mass of the water, and h is the height it is pumped, take this to be 1067 m... g is the acceleration of gravity = 9.8m/s^2, and e is the efficiency of the pumps.

I took e = 0.1 which is a 10% efficiency (30% efficiency to generate electricity, and 30% efficiency to pump)

7.22E19 Joules

which is 23,000 GWh of electricity

it's quite a bit of energy.

So we should notice this in the California energy consumption... I can get that for yearly values:

If I take the annual Lake Don Pedro capacity and plot it on the same plot as the natural gas energy use (which is where most of the electricity is generated) we find an amazing anti-correlation:
Credit: Ed Hartouni

that is, when Lake Don Pedro capacity is down, California energy use is up, by about 20,000 GWh.

so that's not a bad estimate...

This isn't so evident before 2003, that was the year that the EPA started regulating diesel pumps in the central valley... I wonder if there was a switch to electric pumping...

The article in Science should have "seen" the 2008 pumping if it had been at the same level as the recent pumping...
Credit: Ed Hartouni
but it doesn't seem to be there at the same magnitude...

Social climber
Aug 29, 2014 - 01:23pm PT
hey there say, all...

for us folks from san jose, lost gatos, gilroy, areas... etc...



Trad climber
South Pasadena, CA
Aug 29, 2014 - 02:48pm PT
30 seconds ago at the big reservoir east of Gilroy
San Luis Reservoir from Romero Visitor's Center 2014-08-29
San Luis Reservoir from Romero Visitor's Center 2014-08-29
Credit: NutAgain!

Social climber
Aug 29, 2014 - 07:48pm PT
hey there say, NutAgain... thanks for sharing that...

also, just saw this for us former and now-recent san jose folks, etc, los gatos, etc...

video on los gatos creek being affected by water cut-offs from lexington:


lost, far away from Poland
Aug 31, 2014 - 12:38am PT
More bad news.

'Megadrought' risk up to 50 percent, scientists say.

The odds of a potentially devastating Southwestern “megadrought” due to human-caused climate change are as high as 50 percent in this century, a new study finds.

The chances of a megadrought lasting more than 35 years are 10 to 50 percent, says the study, in which University of Arizona researchers played key roles. The highest risks are in parts of Southeastern Arizona and in southwest Texas, they say.

Those chances are a lot higher than many other researchers have thought.

Moreover, if the current drought plaguing Tucson and Southern Arizona lasts another 15 years, “this would almost certainly constitute a megadrought” — the kind that typically strikes a particular place once or twice in 1,000 years, says the study’s lead author.



Trad climber
Santa Cruz Mountains and Monterey Bay
Sep 2, 2014 - 07:06pm PT
California Water Infrastructure on Verge of Historic Collapse
By Jonathan Benson, www.naturalnews.com | September 1, 2014

By Jonathan Benson, contributing writer to Natural News

Water is increasingly hard to come by in drought-stricken California, where many farmers are struggling to get enough water just to pay the bills. But the situation in the Golden State is far worse than many people realize, according to new reports, as underground aquifers that take decades to recharge are being sucked dry, and water infrastructure that has long sustained the agricultural growing regions of the state continue their collapse.

Writing for The Washington Post (WP), journalist Joby Warrick draws attention to what many scientists say is an unprecedented collapse of California’s vast water infrastructure, which is marked by an elaborate system of canals, reservoirs and wells that transfer water from the mountains and other areas to the Central Valley. Altogether, the state contains some 27 million acres of cropland. This system is now failing, say experts, and the consequences will more than likely be unparalleled in California’s history.

According to the report, many of California’s underground aquifers, which are typically drawn upon as a last resort when all else fails, are now the go-to for watering food crops throughout the state. In some areas, these aquifers have dropped by as much as 100 feet, an unprecedented decline that, even if the drought suddenly ended, would likely take several decades or longer to fully recharge.

“A well-managed basin is used like a reserve bank account,” stated Richard A#@&%e, a professor emeritus of resource economics from the University of California at Davis, to WP. A#@&%e co-authored a study published back in July that estimates a 5.1 million acre-feet loss of water this year from California’s underground reserves, a volume the size of Lake Shasta, the state’s largest water reservoir.

“We’re acting like the super rich who have so much money they don’t need to balance their checkbook.”
Thousands of California Farmers Could Lose Their Land if Water Runs Out

But many farmers have no choice. They either have to pull the water now to save their crops or face potential bankruptcy and the loss of their farms. Because of the immense scarcity of water this year — some 60 percent of California is now recorded as being at the highest level of drought, dubbed “exceptional” — many farmers didn’t even receive a share from the infrastructure.

One such farmer is Joe Carrancho, who grows rice in Willows, California. The 71-year-old lost 25 percent of his usual water allotment this year — and he is considered lucky, since some farmers received no water at all — and is now struggling to make payroll. He is also having to make payments on a $500,000 rice harvester that, despite the water losses, still costs the same every month.

“I have 25 percent less production, but no one is giving me a 25 percent break in my bills,” he told WP.
Lawmakers Propose Drastic Water Restrictions to Avoid Collapse

Agriculture is by far the largest water consumer in the state, representing more than 40 percent of California’s water usage. Even with about 35 million residents, California’s urban areas only account for about 9 percent of overall water usage, which is minimal in the larger scheme of things.

But state lawmakers are moving to impose tighter water restrictions, including a $7.5 million bond measure that, if passed this fall, would expand the state’s reservoir system and improve water recycling and other conservation efforts.

“We’ve reached a tipping point where the surface water is no longer enough, yet there are increasing demands from both agriculture and the environment,” added groundwater management expert and hydrologist Graham Fogg to WP.

For some reason Richard A#@&%e's name triggers control charters instead of his last name: H O W I T T

Boulder climber
Salt Lake, UT
Sep 2, 2014 - 08:26pm PT
So, according to that last quote, I'm supposed to have sympathy for a rice farmer in CA? Pretty sure that plant wasn't really meant for that type of climate. Surely there are better uses of water than trying to grow a water intensive grain in a dry Mediterranean climate?

East Bay, CA
Sep 2, 2014 - 08:47pm PT
I'm skeptical of that article too. Ag accounts for more than 40% of total water usage as the article states. I think it's more like 80%.

Yeah, rice farmers in CA going out of buisness? 'Bout time.

Trad climber
South Pasadena, CA
Sep 2, 2014 - 09:14pm PT
Producing rice in California seems like a 5.13X type of business.

On the bright side, if the economy tanks hard enough, he can afford to pay 3rd world labor rates to formerly too-good-for-manual-labor unemployed white collar workers, decide every day how many of those begging for work to take, and get rid of his expensive machine payments.

Now that's back to basics, sensible management.
Ken M

Mountain climber
Los Angeles, Ca
Sep 2, 2014 - 11:43pm PT
The farming lobby has a story about water use that they regularly peddle, which is that the largest use of water in Ca is not farming.

They describe it in various ways, but it amounts to "the environment", which they mean by allowing water to flow down a river.

They have the clear agenda of grabbing that "wasted water".

So, they do use 40% of ALL THE WATER THAT FALLS IN THE STATE. but 80% of the water collected in the various dams and water projects.

This is a video of a recent water forum that I attended, with a bunch of experts from different sources, including a farming advocate:

Ken M

Mountain climber
Los Angeles, Ca
Sep 2, 2014 - 11:51pm PT
here's another interesting article:

mouse from merced

Trad climber
The finger of fate, my friends, is fickle.
Oct 5, 2014 - 09:45pm PT
Merced River water trapped in a canal.
Cool, clear...
Cool, clear...
Credit: mouse from merced
Dingus Milktoast

Gym climber
Maestro, Ecosystem Ministry, Fatcrackistan
Oct 6, 2014 - 05:23am PT


mouse from merced

Trad climber
The finger of fate, my friends, is fickle.
Oct 6, 2014 - 05:47am PT
Hey there say, "Goodnight," Gracie.
Hey there say, "Goodnight," Gracie.
Credit: mouse from merced
"Since 2011, the amount of water removed from these river basins each year added up to 4 trillion gallons.
That’s 'an amount far greater than California’s 38 million residents use in cities and homes annually,' NASA noted."

"4 trillion"
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