OT Just how bad is the drought? Just curious OT

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SomebodyAnybody

Big Wall climber
Torrance
Feb 13, 2018 - 07:29am PT
I'm not knowledgeable on these western water issues, so I'm compelled to ask, because one of you smart people will know -

Why do we not install a bunch of desalination plants, and surround them with solar/wind/wave power supplies? What is the deal-breaker, point of failure there?

It seems less expensive and less destructive than trying to dam, pump, overdraw aquifers, build giant water tunnel projects, and the other madness we currently do.
mouse from merced

Trad climber
The finger of fate, my friends, is fickle.
Feb 13, 2018 - 07:44am PT
Why do we not install a bunch of desalination plants, and surround them with solar/wind/wave power supplies?


Fat cat pols take the fall for this. And large-scale farming in arid deserts. And foolish bullet trains. And foolish peripheral canals.

"Gee whiz, no money left for smarter uses of tax money, guys."

I'm way over-simplifying, but you get the idea.

It's all too much to bear to think about for me. I've lived here all my life and I am an average Joe whose jobs were never dependent on the water supply, so I lack the knowledge of many of those who have been posting to this thread.


I got a message for Patrick Sawyer: You struck oil with this thread after so many dry wells. I'm glad for you, butty! Cheers!
10b4me

Mountain climber
Retired
Feb 13, 2018 - 07:59am PT
Why do we not install a bunch of desalination plants, and surround them with solar/wind/wave power supplies? What is the deal-breaker, point of failure there?

costs, plus the fact that your alternative energy sources are opposed by the present administration.
Malemute

Ice climber
great white north
Feb 13, 2018 - 09:38am PT
Why do we not install a bunch of desalination plants, and surround them with solar/wind/wave power supplies? What is the deal-breaker, point of failure there?

that would be a public relations nightmare for Exxon
Dingus Milktoast

Trad climber
Minister of Moderation, Fatcrackistan
Feb 13, 2018 - 10:55am PT
Why do we not install a bunch of desalination plants, and surround them with solar/wind/wave power supplies? What is the deal-breaker, point of failure there?

Desalinate what water? The where is important. If we're talking the Pacific its notoriously foggy for months at a time. And certainly in proximity to civilization and the sunniest spots the land is madly expensive, among the most expensive real estate in the world. Anywhere away from the coast and you have to pump seawater to the facility. It would have to be sunny and windy, too. If we're talking floating facilities, well, I don't have a handle on the start up costs. Plus I don't think its environmentally sound to be covering up large swaths of ocean with solar panels.

It seems less expensive and less destructive than trying to dam, pump, overdraw aquifers, build giant water tunnel projects, and the other madness we currently do.

How much does it cost one farmer to drill one well? How would that farmer compare costs to facilities not yet built? How does that farmer make payroll and bring a crop to market this year, another year of drought. Where should she spend her investment?

At the core of California and indeed western US water issues are the Byzantine water rights laws that date from the gold rush and tested repeatedly all the way to the Supreme Court. Senior and Junior water rights, first dibs to the most senior, and unless they sell them, folks own the aquifer located beneath their property and can tap it at will.

The only sensible way forward is inter-regional control. This involves either voluntary or forced surrender of water rights. This is the issue. Gaining control will be fantastically expensive, either to the group (government or private it makes no difference) taking control of the water or to the consumers who will increasingly go without. Look to old Mexico for examples of what happens to towns depending on aquifers that are subsequently drained by neighboring private enterprise - dead towns. Look to Mesopotamia for examples of over-farming, over-use, over-irrigation and ultimately, desertification.

To think that water rights holders will simply surrender their rights is wishful at best. Water is life and it is the single most valuable commodity in the West. Nothing else even comes close. The big water interests play for all they are worth and they play for keeps.

Desalination holds promise though. Saudi Arabia has thrown billions at the the problem and made progress. I think San Diego has done some pretty good work there too. Desalination, or at least my last understanding of it, takes a lot of electricity; a lot. Getting technology to the point that small-scale desalination self-served by solar or wind, as you stated, is sort of the holy grail. But keep in mind you have to get the water to the user, still. It still takes pumps and pipes and canals and reservoirs to create a functional distribution system.

The cheapest path has been taken, heretofore. That's a huge part of our present quandary. The solutions will cost far more, in the short term. The issue is, we know we need water a decade from now, but we also need it right now too and interruption of the supply is catastrophic to economy for water is indeed life.

These folks play for keeps and the big players know a thing or 2 about water politics. One can't wave a magic wand from Canada or some other gooberville and fix things here in the golden state.

Cheers
DMT

ps. Oh right, blame it on Exxon. Idiotic.

Dingus Milktoast

Trad climber
Minister of Moderation, Fatcrackistan
Feb 13, 2018 - 10:59am PT
Instead, the leadership at Westlands continued to pander to the fantasy of additional new low cost water.

Incredibly deceitful for the author of that article to lay this all at the feet of 100 farmers in the Westlands Water District. But not nearly as deceitful as the twin tunnel project promoters, who have repeatedly lied about the true costs of the project.

If LA wants that water so bad, LA can pay for the project, in total. But we all know the project costs will far exceed the bullshit projections and LA won't go it alone. That all by itself, says what those decade old cost projections are worth.

Bullsh#t.

DMT
Ken M

Mountain climber
Los Angeles, Ca
Feb 13, 2018 - 03:12pm PT
Why do we not install a bunch of desalination plants, and surround them with solar/wind/wave power supplies? What is the deal-breaker, point of failure there?

It seems less expensive and less destructive than trying to dam, pump, overdraw aquifers, build giant water tunnel projects, and the other madness we currently do.

The simple answer is a technical one: cost.

It is HUGELY expensive to desal seawater. HUGE. It would require a phenomenal increase in electricity generation. The specifics matter, but as a rule of thumb, it is twice as expensive as virtually any other alternative.
Ken M

Mountain climber
Los Angeles, Ca
Feb 13, 2018 - 03:20pm PT
DMT, I'm not sure why you are so intent on blaming LA. While LADWP supports the twin tunnels, it is not because of increased water availability, it is because of reliability of the water, made much more survivable of earthquakes. The fact is, the plans for LA see a tremendous reduction of need from distant sources over time.

https://grandchallenges.ucla.edu/sustainable-la/
Dingus Milktoast

Trad climber
Minister of Moderation, Fatcrackistan
Feb 13, 2018 - 03:28pm PT
DMT, I'm not sure why you are so intent on blaming LA. While LADWP supports the twin tunnels, it is not because of increased water availability, it is because of reliability of the water, made much more survivable of earthquakes.

That is now it's being sold. LADWP doesn't just support it, LADWP is the reason for the twin tunnels project.

When you dig into it, the reason for the Twin Tunnels is to avoid the backwards flow of water to the pumps at Byron. It is there that the Delta Smelt and other species get sucked into the pumps and chewed to pieces. The backward flow of water serves to draw brackish and salt waters into the Delta. This harms other species. This happens primarily during late summer and primarily during droughts, when there is not enough fresh water coming into the Delta from the Sacramento and San Joaquin river systems. The California Aqueduct pumps are so powerful they make water run uphill and suck San Francisco Bay water up the Carquines Straits and into the delta. Environmentalists have successfully sued to get the pumps shut down or restricted in these droughts and L.A. water got restricted in the process.

The purpose of the Twin Tunnels is to shunt Sacramento river water around the Delta and around the Byron pumps. This must be good, right? Less fish get chomped in the pumps and the threat of levee collapse in a big earthquake goes away. Only trouble is it means far less fresh water into the Delta, since it will never get there, having been shunted around in the twin tunnels.

What the real purpose of the bypass is to pump Sacramento river water with impunity and also bypass environmental restrictions, during droughts. With less water flowing into the Delta the salt water problem will grow worse. And there is no intention to retire the pumping stations at Byron, either.

Net net? This is about pumping MORE WATER to L.A. Everything else is just a dress on a pig. And the delta will grow worse, as a result of this Big Fix. The big fix being back room cigar chomping water barron Jerry Brown deals with LADWP.

DMT
Ken M

Mountain climber
Los Angeles, Ca
Feb 13, 2018 - 03:44pm PT
DMT, you obviously did not read my link.

Despite what you say, the planning that is going on in LA is to progressively reduce the amount of imported water, over time.

you say that is not how it is being sold. By whom? To whom?

I won't say that there might not be some of what you say being said, but I don't hear it.

The state should be making plans to deal with the reduced water needs of LA---and facilitating it, but I don't see it happening.

But LA is going to continue to work towards water independence, no matter what the State does.
Dingus Milktoast

Trad climber
Minister of Moderation, Fatcrackistan
Feb 13, 2018 - 04:41pm PT
Sure thing Ken, here is a case in point. The following was published by KPCC 89.3 "Member Supported News for Southern California" in Oct 2016 ahead of prop 53 vote, which had it passed would have put the twin tunnels to a vote of the citizens. I'll quote a few excerpts to illustrate my points but here's the link

http://www.scpr.org/news/2016/10/13/65576/8-things-southern-californians-should-know-about-t/

and also a link to the state site supporting the tunnels.

http://www.californiawaterfix.com/#solution

Some quotes:

Emily Guerin | October 13, 2016

The most powerful water agency in Southern California stepped up its lobbying this week in support of a project that would change how we get a third of our drinking water.

In order to save fish populations, state officials have at times cut back on the amount of water they pump out of the Delta. The drought has exacerbated the problem by reducing the amount of water flowing into the Delta in the first place.

The result is that in recent years, the people who depend on State Water Project – almost all of Southern California and farmers in the Central Valley – haven’t been getting the water they’ve been promised. This year, they got 60 percent, but in 2014 it was just 5 percent.

Why should Southern Californians care about this?

A third of the water that comes out of our faucets in Southern California is sucked through the pumps in the Delta. In some areas, like those served by the Las Virgenes Water District, imported water makes up 100% of the total supply.

Who is supporting it and why?

Gov. Jerry Brown and urban water agencies in Southern California, especially MWD, are the leading proponents of the project.

When the Westlands Water District pulled out of the deal I was happy. But Governor Brown is a tough bastards who never gives up. Just this week:

The troubled Delta tunnels project was officially downsized Wednesday, as Gov. Jerry Brown’s administration announced it would attempt to build a single tunnel in its effort to re-engineer California’s elaborate water-delivery system.

Unable to secure enough money from California’s water agencies for the original twin tunnels concept, the California Department of Water Resources said it would now try to build the project in phases: one tunnel now and a second tunnel years down the road.

The long-awaited announcement doesn’t appear to immediately solve the financial questions looming over the project, known officially as California WaterFix.

But even one tunnel is billions and SoCal so far won't pony up, so much for water independence

A letter to water agencies from DWR Director Karla Nemeth says the first tunnel would cost $10.7 billion. That’s much less than the price tag for building two tunnels, now officially pegged at $16.3 billion. But the one-tunnel option also is considerably more expensive than the estimated $6 billion to $6.5 billion that’s been pledged so far by participating south-of-Delta water agencies.

Read more here: http://www.sacbee.com/news/state/california/water-and-drought/article198973869.html#storylink=cpy

We will defeat this bad project yet.

Cheers
DMT
Ken M

Mountain climber
Los Angeles, Ca
Feb 13, 2018 - 06:52pm PT
I hope so, DMT.

However, in your numerous links, nothing referenced LADWP. It was all about MWD, which is a very different animal.
Dingus Milktoast

Trad climber
Minister of Moderation, Fatcrackistan
Feb 13, 2018 - 08:51pm PT
Touche.

Cheers
DMT
mouse from merced

Trad climber
The finger of fate, my friends, is fickle.
Feb 18, 2018 - 10:32am PT
March 3, 1948.
March 3, 1948.
Credit: mouse from merced
"Plus Ca Change Plus Ca Meme Shoes"
August West

Trad climber
Where the wind blows strange
Feb 18, 2018 - 02:02pm PT
What the real purpose of the bypass is to pump Sacramento river water with impunity and also bypass environmental restrictions, during droughts. With less water flowing into the Delta the salt water problem will grow worse. And there is no intention to retire the pumping stations at Byron, either.

The CA and Federal environmental restrictions wouldn't disappear because of the tunnels. If the tunnels were causing salt water problems that were causing problems for endangered and threatened fish you could still get restrictions on pumping, no?

From and engineering/environmental perspective, if you built the tunnels and new pumps and kept the old pumps, you could pump much more water during the few months of really high winter/spring flows, without any worries about salt water intrusions and then pump far less during the low flow times when salt water is an issue, but still provide as much water to the south.

Whether this makes financial sense, I don't know. But it is pretty clear that it doesn't make political sense.

The earthquake protection is by no means trivial. If the flows have been high for a while and an earthquake struck when the levees were water logged and the water was still high up on the levees, it might not take that big of an earthquake to destroy a lot of miles of levee. A levee breach usually relieves pressure on other parts of the levee because the water drops and this means that the levee breaches are usually somewhat isolated. But during an earthquake, the water is going to slosh around and a failure at one point is not going to relieve the pressure anywhere else during the time frame of the earthquake. So the failure could be on a really vast scale.

I don't know if anyone has much confidence as far as saying what size earthquake would cause what sort of damage. But the damage from such an event should be factored into the cost analysis of the tunnel project.
xCon

Social climber
909
Feb 18, 2018 - 02:15pm PT
doesn't current water supply for southern California pass through the age guarded by dikes over a one hundred years old?

peat moss edifices which the next earthquake of note will decimate

something must be done about that

the questions is what gets built given the authorization coming to address the imperative need to address the weakness in vital infrastructure...
Ken M

Mountain climber
Los Angeles, Ca
Feb 18, 2018 - 04:14pm PT
The craziest proposals are for the building of any dams.

First, cannot be accomplished in under about 20 years, it just takes that long.

Second, there is an existing alternative, which would be free: put excess water into the depleted aquifers, which are essentially huge reservoirs that have worked for millenia.

Third, it is far more efficient storage than above ground reservoirs, because there is no water loss due to evaporation.

Fourth, it would require little infrastructure to accomplish.

There is work being done on the feasibility of farm/orchard flooding in winter to allow water infiltration which seems very promising. Very cheap, very easy technologically, no risk.
Dingus Milktoast

Trad climber
Minister of Moderation, Fatcrackistan
Feb 18, 2018 - 06:34pm PT
The tunnel plan calls for a massive, off stream dam at Sites.

DMT
G_Gnome

Trad climber
Cali
Feb 18, 2018 - 07:18pm PT
In that Urban and industrial use of water consumes only 11% of the total water in the state, not much water is actually being used by the citizens of Los Angeles. Most of the water coming thru the aqueduct is going to farming the central valley. So why is DMT blaming the people of LA?
Jon Beck

Trad climber
Oceanside
Feb 19, 2018 - 12:04am PT
Farming is about 2% of California's GDP, while they use the lion's share of the water, approximately 80%. Solution seems pretty simple to me. unfortunately the ag lobby is pretty powerful. Once again big business infecting politics.
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