OT Just how bad is the drought? Just curious OT

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Ken M

Mountain climber
Los Angeles, Ca
Jul 22, 2017 - 09:52pm PT
I think I posted this link before, but here is a new posting. This is from an anonymous person who works in the State water bureaucracy. They give an "insiders view" of things.

https://onthepublicrecord.org/author/onthepublicrecord/

Watching a progressive water platform for the San Joaquin Valley take shape.


I am seeing more local newspaper op-eds opposing the San Joaquin Valley water dogma than I ever have before. Part of it is about replacing Nunes, but it also opens the door for new ways of thinking about water If this is the work of the local resistance, you guys are doing a great job. They are feeling the pressure.

The longstanding water dogma of the San Joaquin Valley has been narrow. The premise is that farmers need more (extracted from the environment), and the only other lens for water policy is farmworker jobs. I don’t pay as much attention to the water quality news stories, but I don’t remember many of them from the Valley before 2011-2016 drought, even during the 2006-2009 drought. Post drought, I’m seeing a few topics emerge:

Drinking water supply in rural Valley towns. (Related: longstanding racism, paying for ongoing O&M for water treatment, nitrates in the groundwater, arsenic standards, special district consolidations). This is getting well-deserved attention, primarily because of the local organizing done over the past several years.

Urban water quality in Fresno, particularly fear of lead poisoning.

SGMA implementation, including the formation of water markets and who will have access when Groundwater Sustainability Plans are being written.

Having living rivers in the region, with access for everybody.

These are all relatively undeveloped issues, from a statewide policy perspective.

I am sure locals have been aware and working on these for decades, but at my remove, I haven’t heard anything on water policy out of the San Joaquin Valley besides the standard clichés.

Further, these issues are tremendously susceptible to the wonder powers of the progressive left: community organizing, developing policy based on science, and throwing money at problems.

Imagine if Nunes and Valdao had spent any effort on these or had brought home any money towards these objectives? The few issues they have harped on for years are deadlocked; the discussion around them played to exhaustion.

I am inspired by the new themes emerge in the Fresno Bee, the Visalia Times-Delta, the Hanford Sentinel. I greatly admire Lois Henry’s work at Bakersfield.com.

The local community organizing on drinking water done during the drought is bearing fruit now.

There are concrete bills and proposals that California can implement (imagine if the State had constructive local Congressmembers to work with). The Resistance to Trump is opening new arenas for progressive work on Valley water. I love to see it. Please let me know if I can help.

There are a number of hyperlinks in the actual article at that website.
Dingus Milktoast

Trad climber
Minister of Moderation, Fatcrackistan
Jul 23, 2017 - 08:18am PT
The few issues they (edit: the local politicians who have great influence over water politics) have harped on for years are deadlocked; the discussion around them played to exhaustion.

From my perspective, in the described 'Narrow View' of San Joaquin Valley water politics enviro concerns have taken some hard body blows lately. I dunno from where the author of the cited article draws his inspiration but from where I set:

1. Westside Water District won a 5-decade old fight, replete with federal and state lawsuits, and will not be compelled to complete the long promised drainage canal. Huge, huge win for ag interests and a complete capitation on the part of environmentalists. They lost, utterly.

2. Twin Tunnels are moving forward, many hurdles have been made lately. While not strictly a Valley issue, there is a component.

3. Sites and other reservoir projects are moving forward too.

4. They stopped the effort to restore the San Joaquin River. This more than anything tells me farm interests still own the water, and the future of the San Joaquin valley.

I am inspired by the new themes emerge in the Fresno Bee, the Visalia Times-Delta, the Hanford Sentinel. I greatly admire Lois Henry’s work at Bakersfield.com.

The local community organizing on drinking water done during the drought is bearing fruit now.

I hope so and will read up some more on these efforts.

There are concrete bills and proposals that California can implement (imagine if the State had constructive local Congressmembers to work with). The Resistance to Trump is opening new arenas for progressive work on Valley water. I love to see it. Please let me know if I can help.

Forgive my pessimism here, there are walls of opposing cash and I don't think discomfort with President Trump makes any difference whatsoever. Oh, it might be a battle cry for otherwise disinterested urban dwellers to look up from their water faucets, but arrayed against them are the greatest terraformers and water pirates there world has ever known. Wresting control of the aquifers from them is a Herculean task, make no mistake.

Water is life and these guys play the long game, for keeps. Some flighty assed, here today grown up and gone to the coast tomorrow left wingers really doesn't have much of a chance against the Big Ag Machine, in the end.

DMT
Ken M

Mountain climber
Los Angeles, Ca
Jul 23, 2017 - 11:02am PT
Long foreseeable.

Three weeks after the tunnels received a crucial green light from federal environmental regulators, the $17.1 billion project got a cool reception from nearly 100 growers who farm in the powerful Westlands Water District. Provided with detailed financial projections at a Westlands board meeting for the first time, the farmers suggested they aren’t ready to sign onto the plan.

Investment bankers from Goldman Sachs & Co. said debt repayment could balloon farmers’ water costs to as much as $495 an acre-foot under the most expensive scenario, or about triple what Westlands growers currently pay. …

“My initial thought, right off the bat, is no way this will work,” the tomato and almond farmer said in an interview. “Those numbers might work for a city, Metropolitan and them. For a farmer, none of the crops that I grow can support these numbers.”

I am sorry these farmers are only hearing about these estimates now. The cost range for this water has been available knowledge for half a decade now. We’ve known for years that tunnel water wouldn’t be agricultural water.

This is another illustration of how dedication to ideology over reality is penalizing the conservative farmers of the San Joaquin Valley. The rough price range for water out of the Delta tunnels has been known for almost a decade. Wise district managers should have relayed this reality to their farmers. Messrs. Neve and Bourdeau should not be learning about this now.

Instead, the leadership at Westlands continued to pander to the fantasy of additional new low cost water. Over the years they’ve paid millions into the BDCP planning effort. (In the end, that may end up being a subsidy for the cities that can take water from a small tunnel alternative.) I don’t know why Westlands management didn’t explain to their farmers years ago that it was time to cut their losses. One unflattering possibility is that they were more willing to throw their growers’ money at a project that wasn’t going to deliver ag water than they were to challenge the conservative water management philosophy of the region. Another unflattering possibility is that the district managers and lobbyists enjoy the lifestyle that their growers support, and aren’t going to tell them unpleasant truths until they absolutely must. Either would explain bringing in outsiders from Goldman Sachs to explain the real costs of the Delta tunnels. In either explanation, the management and leadership at Westlands aren’t working in their growers’ best interests. Even if their growers demand it, perpetuating the fantasy of additional low cost water will not give them the knowledge they need to plan for their farms in the long term.

Ken M

Mountain climber
Los Angeles, Ca
Oct 5, 2017 - 06:17pm PT
regarding the issue of dams (surface water storage):

https://law.ucla.edu/centers/environmental-law/emmett-institute-on-climate-change-and-the-environment/publications/surface-water-storage/?utm_source=Fall+2017+Newsletter+&utm_campaign=Fall+2016+Newsletter&utm_medium=email

Dams MAY be a solution, but they are certainly not a quick solution.
Dingus Milktoast

Trad climber
Minister of Moderation, Fatcrackistan
Oct 5, 2017 - 06:40pm PT
Btw recently the westlands water district surprised me and effectively halted the L.A. Water Theft Grab aks Delta Bypass Tunnels project by withdrawing their critical financial
Support for the project. A well deserved stick in Jerry Brown's and DWR's eyes.

They did it because they realized they got to pay for a project but still didn't get control of the water. In drought years LA would get all of it, with no restrictions on SoCal's unrestrained growth. They understood The Big Fix was about fixing LA's water access not theirs.'

Without the tunnels there's no reason to build the Sites Reservoir. While the fat lady aint singing yet (never count out DWR in a water theft fight) things are starting to look a lot like Christmas :)

DMT
Timid TopRope

Social climber
the land of Pale Ale
Oct 6, 2017 - 06:52am PT
So Sites may not be out of sight after all?
The cypress get a reprieve from death row
The cypress get a reprieve from death row
Credit: Timid TopRope
Dingus Milktoast

Trad climber
Minister of Moderation, Fatcrackistan
Oct 6, 2017 - 06:59am PT
Nothing is sure, my friend. But the purpose of the Sites Reservoir was/is specifically to store water bound for the twin tunnels. DWR does not / did not want to let that water slip by simply because the tunnels would have only so much capacity.

Another sticky point - the so called big fix; they did not / do not intend to shut the other pumps down either.

DMT
Dingus Milktoast

Trad climber
Minister of Moderation, Fatcrackistan
Jan 9, 2018 - 06:25pm PT
We went from 35% of rain to date average to 80% rain to date average. Got nearly 4" here in two days. Deer Creek is flooding the roads. Deadly mudslides in exclusive Montecito and Burbank too. The hammer of god is back.

Fascinating.

DMT
Reilly

Mountain climber
The Other Monrovia- CA
Jan 9, 2018 - 06:37pm PT
State missed problems that led to Oroville Dam near-disaster, report finds

http://www.sfgate.com/news/article/State-missed-problems-that-led-to-Oroville-Dam-12476316.php
Dingus Milktoast

Trad climber
Minister of Moderation, Fatcrackistan
Jan 9, 2018 - 06:41pm PT
The dam failure was a direct result of shitty design and decades of malfeasance on the part of DWR. No wonder Governor Brown hid his father's legacy from public view!

DMT
BBA

Social climber
Feb 11, 2018 - 04:23pm PT
The drought may be back big time, at least in Santa Rosa CA. The water supply line is passing below 2015 which was the worst in the previous several year drought...

Credit: BBA

Dingus Milktoast

Trad climber
Minister of Moderation, Fatcrackistan
Feb 11, 2018 - 08:01pm PT
I was just up in the Mendo highlands, made it up to Plaskett Meadows from the east side. Stunningly dry up there. No real rain in the forecast. The drought is definitely continuing.

On the plus side the Sierra reservoirs with the exception of Oroville, are all looking pretty good.

DMT
neebee

Social climber
calif/texas
Feb 11, 2018 - 09:40pm PT
hey there, say, BBA... and DMT... thanks for the updates...

oh my...
couchmaster

climber
Feb 13, 2018 - 06:02am PT


Just like in a zombie movie where the zombie is dead and buried but then suddenly pops back up out of the dirt to everyones horror and shock, it's BAAACCCCKKKKKKKK .....

If February joins December and January into record-setting dryness, "then California is marching into unprecedented territory, which has never been seen before in the recorded climate history," Steve Johnson, long-range forecaster with Atmospherics Group International, said in an email. "Unless March and/or April bring abundant rains … this rainfall season could end up being one of, or possibly THE driest in our climate history."

LA Times archive link to full story: https://archive.is/Hn6bu
Bad Climber

Trad climber
The Lawless Border Regions
Feb 13, 2018 - 06:44am PT
Yeah, lookin' bad. I think that guy means "recorded" climate history. We have no way of determining absolute rainfall in the distant past. However, we do know from tree ring and other analysis that Cali has had droughts that last for DECADES. Got some snow here on the East Side yesterday down to about 6,000 ft. Pray for more.

BAd
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.

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