OT Just how bad is the drought? Just curious OT

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Jon Beck

Trad climber
Oceanside
Feb 21, 2018 - 10:19pm PT
Food is cheap so it contributes a small amount to the the GDP, but we grow lots of food here. Lots of almonds, lots of citrus, lots of stuff that people eat lots of.

yes, mans gotta eat and nobody is close to starving in this country, in fact we are in an obesity epidemic. Yes food is cheap and it is reflected in the jobs it creates, the worst jobs in the country. And society ends up subsidizing those workers, another hidden subsidy for the agribusiness.
10b4me

Social climber
Janie's
Feb 22, 2018 - 07:29am PT
I have no problem with family owned farms, but big agribusiness. . . .
Ken M

Mountain climber
Los Angeles, Ca
Feb 22, 2018 - 12:26pm PT
I will add that both urban and ag interests have gotten much better at conservation over the years. But I'll also point out that both interests will seize and consume all the water they can get their hands on.

I can't speak for all cities in Ca, but I can speak for LA.

This is not even remotely true. LA has contracts that would cover as much water as it might need, without taking any from groundwater or the LA Aqueduct (Owens Valley). This was largely the situation 2 years ago, where over 80% of the city's water came from NoCal and Colo River. Last year, we took virtually none from those sources, although we had the legal right to it (due to the bumper crop of snow on the eastside)

Just three weeks ago, LA broke ground on a Superfund cleanup of the San Fernando Aquifer, which the city has waited decades for the Feds to clean up, but which we finally decided to pay for ourselves, I think to the tune of $1B. This has the potential to produce up to 25% of the city's water needs, displacing the same amount of water from importation. This is a big deal.
10b4me

Social climber
Janie's
Feb 22, 2018 - 02:00pm PT
I’m a lot less judgemental about agri-business and the demonization of success.

Dingus, I am not demonizing success. What I am questioning is at what costs was that success made.

So is a 5th gen family owned corp that owns 5000 acres and leases another 20000, and grows a variety of cash crops to manage risk and make a living for all their employees using irrigation from canals and wells, one of those evil agribusinesses?

Is that ConAgra?
August West

Trad climber
Where the wind blows strange
Feb 22, 2018 - 02:20pm PT
Looks like the state wants to impose permanent water restrictions, regardless if there is a drought or not.
Not a bad thing imo.
My pet peeve, amongst others, is the irrigation of golf courses.

Permanent water restrictions for who? Everybody?

If you have a string of wet years, using that water to grow cheap fruits and veggies seems to me a pretty reasonable use. Not sure I see the point of a permanent water restriction.

In drier years, using water to grow grass, whether is someone's front lawn or a golf course seems pretty extravagant compared to the societal benefit, but in our mostly free market economy, that is hard to combat.

You can try and make the water more expensive, either after a household uses so much in total, or so much per person, but it doesn't come out that fair.

If it is per house hold, some cheap rental with a bunch of students get unfairly hammered. Trying to figure out per person would be a nightmare.

And golf courses and people with McMansions aren't that much effected by higher priced water.

And the key question, for most places, isn't how much comes out of the faucet, but how much comes out that doesn't go back into the drain. If you live in Sac, and left the shower running all day, most of that water will go down the drain and back into the Sac river where it could still be pumped south. A little bit is lost to leaky pipes and humidity, but not much. Water that you put on the lawn is not available downstream. Huge difference but rarely taken into account with water restrictions. Although in some places you can get fined if your lawn watering drains off your property or for even watering the lawn in the first place.
Ken M

Mountain climber
Los Angeles, Ca
Feb 22, 2018 - 06:17pm PT
Just got this new report on an approach being piloted in LA:

https://static1.squarespace.com/static/5a21b552bce176df59bb9c8e/t/5a8749e1c8302534e9d4a1a8/1518815745818/WaterLA_Report_0218_web.pdf
Ken M

Mountain climber
Los Angeles, Ca
Feb 23, 2018 - 06:17pm PT
Here is a study done in LA County, on the issues involved in underground storage in an aquifer:

https://dpw.lacounty.gov/wwd/web/documents/LessonsLearnedAquifer.pdf
Ken M

Mountain climber
Los Angeles, Ca
Apr 22, 2018 - 09:13pm PT
There have been several posts that have placed blame on the City of LA for the twin tunnel proposal, and continuing to push it.

There was an article in the LA Times today, in which it notes that both the LA and the San Diego delegations to MWD voted AGAINST the twin tunnels, and went so far as to threaten litigation.

Just keeping the record straight.
Ken M

Mountain climber
Los Angeles, Ca
May 25, 2018 - 10:42am PT
New post on On the public record

Fortunately, my friend left for another field.
by onthepublicrecord

For a while, I went to school with a woman who had just left working for Cadiz. She is shockingly funny, and told me stories about how great it was to work for Cadiz. It was pretty fun, I hear, to zoom up to the desert on a Friday night and stay at Sun World and drink at rural bars and eat amazing fruit. That does indeed sound great. When we realized we were both in the water field, she told me about the Cadiz project; how they were going to sell their groundwater to LA. I winced at that and she reassured me. It was no problem, she said; the aquifer wasn't connected to anything. At that moment, I knew the project was bullsh#t, because "not connected to anything" isn't a possible thing. It was the early 2000's and she told me that the Cadiz project was definitely going to happen, because Keith Brackpool was very good at Grey Davis' preferred type of fellatio(her explanation, my classy paraphrase).

Now friends of this blog, if you study a map, you will see that neither the Mojave Desert nor Los Angeles are in the Central Valley. Since you are all long-time readers, you know that my small and limited attention goes only towards water issues in the Central Valley. So even though the Cadiz project has been self-evident bullshit since the very first I heard of it, and even though I have found its opponents to be brilliant and its supporters to be paid hacks, I don't believe I've ever written about it here.

I'm still don't have much to say about Cadiz, but I do want to answer a related question my friend asked me. When I said there's no way that water in a desert aquifer is unconnected to the surface desert ecology, she asked, but what if it were? If it were unconnected, why not send that water to Los Angeles? For the sake of that question, I will set aside the potential harm of the pipeline itself and the cost and pretend that this project is both spherical and frictionless. I'll also answer that question as someone who is partial to Los Angeles.

My answer is no, even were it costless, Cadiz shouldn't be built. It shouldn't be built because Los Angelenos can live within their existing supply. Decoupling was evident even in the early 2000's; hell, it had been obvious since the '80's, when the Mono Lake Committee proved that L.A. could replace Mono Lake water with conserved water. I do understand that many more people will live in L.A., but I also know that we have not begun to approach a gppd so low that Angelenos (or, more broadly any Californians that have reliable water service) drop out of a first world quality of life. Further, the region has the money to pursue the next-most-expensive chunks of internal water. I reject the assertion that growth for southern California requires Cadiz's water, and for that matter, I don't want Californians tied to the traditional economic concept of growth.

I have come to a conclusion, here in 2018, as I look at the sleazy f*#ks who have resuscitated Cadiz. As #MeToo develops, I am realizing that it is all the same extraction mindset. Either people believe that the other has inherent worth and should be met in mutually beneficial agreement, or people believe that the other is not as important as themselves and is a target for extraction. Desert water; living rivers; people's labor; environmental absorption capacity; Tribal land; sex, time, attention from a weaker party. To a taker, they're all just stocks, insufficiently guarded. Witnessing extraction in one realm should alert the viewer that they are viewing someone with an extractive mindset; it is likely that person is dangerous in multiple realms. Which is a long way of saying what the last nearly twenty years have made clear: Cadiz is a terrible project supported by terrible people.
August West

Trad climber
Where the wind blows strange
May 25, 2018 - 05:22pm PT
The ignorant worry that the twin tunnel promoters wish to fan, mostly among those who live in high quake risk zones of course, is that a catastrophic, quake-induced levee failure in the Delta region (again, NOT Sacramento) could disrupt the flow of water into the aqueduct. Its the OMG fear that is used to drum up support for another 10s of billions in Jerry Brown Boondoggle Spending. I'm sure those who's spigots are fed from the California aqueduct are scared straight into their daily showers for relief.

And why do you think it is an ignorant worry? I read quite a bit about this scenario some years ago (maybe there has been more recent research?). If a sizable earthquake hit during a period of high river flows when the water was high up on the levee, the water would slosh back and forth and over the top of the levees. There are a lot of unknowns but I think there are academic types, who do not have an obvious political agenda, who think the levees could collapse.

And the collapse could be especially catastrophic. During a large flood, when a section of levee fails, water flows out and reduces the pressure on the rest of the levee. Maybe you have a half mile of levee that needs replacing.

During a 60 second earthquake, a collapse in one spot won't have time to relieve the pressure on the rest of the system. Instead of needing to fix a half mile of levee, you could potentially need to rebuild hundreds of miles of levees. Certainly it is a black swan type of event, But that in itself is no reason to pooh-pooh the threat.
August West

Trad climber
Where the wind blows strange
May 25, 2018 - 05:32pm PT
I'm not gung-ho on a tunnel project.

But I nevertheless think a well-built and well-run project would be a win-win all the way around.

The Sacramento river typically has huge flows in the spring and then very low flows in the fall. A lot of water could be pumped out in spring with essentially no environment impact. The flows in spring can easily be ten times as much as the flows during other times of the year. If more water was moved south during this period and correspondingly less was moved at other times of the year, the environment in general and the fish in particular would come out way ahead.

Moving the intake further upstream would likely reduce the impact on fish. I would think it would get the pumps upstream of the delta smelt habitat.

Having a system that was more robust against earthquakes would be a nice added benefit.
Ken M

Mountain climber
Los Angeles, Ca
May 25, 2018 - 10:10pm PT
Los Angeles does not want, nor need, the twin tunnels expansion water. In fact, we want to get rid of the water from that source, altogether. We are deep into the planning to make that a reality, and to cut our needs.

We have gone through massive conservation programs, with the result that we use the same amount of water as we used in 1970, in spite of the very significant growth of the city.

The plans in place have us moving away from distant water, and it changes the dynamics of water needs and management for the future.

We don't need to build a single dam to deal with earlier season mountain water---we simply need to use that water to replenish the MASSIVE aquifer that are overdrawn in the central valley. We just need the legal framework to make it happen, and build the infrastructure.

As for earthquake risk, I think it is ridiculously overblown. I learned a lot about this from the First Gulf War, in reading Colin Powell's analysis of bombing......bombing oil pipelines, or railroads, or other structures that run straight along the ground, is basically futile. Modern engineers are able to rebuild such things with GREAT speed. The same would be true of an aqueduct.
Ken M

Mountain climber
Los Angeles, Ca
May 25, 2018 - 10:25pm PT
Just to look at reality, here is a paper that assessed the damage from the 1994 Northridge Earthquake (6.7), which occurred right in the middle of the San Fernando Valley.

The aqueducts were taken out for 4 days.

http://www.iitk.ac.in/nicee/wcee/article/WCEE2012_0364.pdf

As shown in Fig. 3, the water
delivery service was restored to 100% at about 7 days,

Power service loss and restoration had a significant influence on quantity service loss and restoration,
similar to that described for the delivery services.
August West

Trad climber
Where the wind blows strange
May 26, 2018 - 02:35pm PT
Which levee, specifically, are you worried about? Take into consideration the intakes for the CA aqueduct are in the southern end of the Delta, tucked behind Mt Diablo.

The prospect of a levee failure caused by a big quake is real. But which levee? The prospect of a levee failure cutting off the CA aqueduct flow of water to SoCal is vastly overblown and hyped, to fan the flames of anxeity for folks who have no frickin clue about the conveyance system used to get their water there.

I'm worried about all the levees in the delta. My understanding is that they are in generally poor shape. My understanding, it is not just the levees immediately around the pumps that are the issue. But that if there is significant enough failure of levees downstream there will be salt water intrusion upstream. Basically it becomes a big lagoon instead of a channelized river where the fresh water can push the salt water downstream.

Ok, the fear might be vastly overblown but I think you also have to look at the consequences. It is not likely that anyone currently alive will see a magnitude 9 earthquake in Seattle. But it has happened in the past and it will happen again someday. We should analyze that risk not just belittle it. The folks at Fukushima pooh-poohed the tsunami risk for their nuclear power plant. A very black swan event that did indeed happen.

While I know many in Norcal would initially cheer if the water delivery system to the south collapsed, it would have a really big, negative impact.
August West

Trad climber
Where the wind blows strange
May 26, 2018 - 02:54pm PT
There's that notion again, that flood waters flowing down the river, through the delta and bay and out to sea, are 'wasted' and must be 'reclaimed.'

The situation with the Mississippi river delta sinking into the Gulf is exactly the result of this thinking, that harnessing a river and siphoning off the flood waters has no environmental consequence. It actually has vast consequences but because a lot of that is not immediate nor readily visible to casual newspaper readers it can be pretended there is no consequence at all.

Rivers are supposed to flood. Flood waters are supposed to take vast fans of sediment down stream. Entire ecosystems depend on it. I know you have voiced the opinion you feel it's too late to save those ecosystems but I can't let you get away with the notion that because you've written them off there is no enviro consequence.

Look, I would say I'm on the thin tail when it comes to environmentalism. Climate change is an existential risk for our advanced society. If I was in charge, we would be radically redoing our energy infrastructure. Even if we were doing that, which we aren't, we should still also plan on walking away from New Orleans and the southern third of Florida over the next 100 years or so. There is no economically feasable way to protect them. But I imagine our society will spend hundreds of billions in a futile attempt before reality is faced.

But neither do we live in a state nature. I think it is short sighted to build cities in deserts, but it is really agriculture where it is at. I like to eat healthy and I don't think eating healthy should be restricted to the middle class and above. Moving water south to grow fruits and vegatables strikes me as pretty reasonable, all things considered. In dry years, the fruit and vegatable crop can be reduced without too much impact. Growing almonds and avocados is much more problematic because the trees have to be kept alive even during drought years.

The high flows for moving sediment absolutely applies to the Mississippi river delta. Not so much for the Sacramento. Whether we move water south or not, we are not letting sediment rich water over the levees to replenish farm land in the central valley. SF is not perched on a sinking delta the way that New Orleans is.

If the average flow in the Sacramento is somewhere around 5000 cfs, and there is a period in spring when the flow is 50,000 cfs. There is going to be very little difference between 50,000 cfs going under the Golden Gate or 40,000 going under the Golden Gate. In the context of our industrial/consumer society, there just isn't going to be a measurable impact from doing that. On the other hand, when the flow in the river is 5,000 cfs, diverting just 1,000 cfs will have a noticeable impact especially for fish.

I want to protect the environment but 7.5 billion people are not going to be able to organically live off the land in a state a nature. Instead of knee-jerk opposition, we need to think through the various trade-offs.

Finally: Not sure why you think I have written off any ecosystems. Maybe you are confusing me with someone else?
rottingjohnny

Sport climber
Sands Motel , Las Vegas
May 26, 2018 - 07:06pm PT
Ken M...the Northridge earthquake was in 94....rj
Ken M

Mountain climber
Los Angeles, Ca
May 26, 2018 - 08:14pm PT
rj, so true. It was right there in the link, I don't know why my fingers hit those keys......
rottingjohnny

Sport climber
Sands Motel , Las Vegas
May 26, 2018 - 08:17pm PT
Ken...Probably the san andreas fault..?
Ken M

Mountain climber
Los Angeles, Ca
Jun 12, 2018 - 08:21pm PT
Got this today.....So Germany is going to be the next leader in water?

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Ken M

Mountain climber
Los Angeles, Ca
Jul 15, 2018 - 05:18pm PT
Instead of dam building, here is some innovative thinking going on!

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/07/15/climate/california-is-preparing-for-extreme-weather-its-time-to-plant-some-trees.html
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