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Water Wars: Mormons Vs Las Vegas

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Matt Schiavenza, “ The Economics of California's Drought,” The Atlantic, March 21, 2015, online at http://news.yahoo.com/economics-californias-drought-211515148.html ,

 

As the U.S. Northeast emerges from yet another snowstorm, California has just concluded its hottest winter ever, registering average temperatures 4.4 degrees warmer than the state's 20th-century average. Warm temperatures and clear skies may strike a beleaguered Bostonian as the cause for celebration. But in California, the dry conditions mean that the state's drought has only grown more devastating. How devastating? Earlier this month, the title of a Los Angeles Times op-ed published by Jay Famiglietti, senior water scientist at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory and a professor at UC Irvine, got right to the point: California would run out of water in a year.

 

This headline—as Famiglietti himself pointed out—isn't exactly accurate: the one-year limit pertains only to California's reservoirs, which account for only part of the state's water supply. Nevertheless, the state is taking action. Last week, Governor Jerry Brown announced a $1 billion plan to aid communities most affected by the drought, and imposed restrictions on some aspects of personal use. With the state's snowpack at just 12 percent of normal, Californians figure to struggle more during the traditional dry summer months.

 

"California has no contingency plan for a persistent drought like this one."

 

California is known globally for its coastal beaches, mountains, and desert. But the state's most important economic region may be its Central Valley, one of the world's most productive agricultural areas. Virtually all of the almonds, artichokes, lemons, pistachios, and processed tomatoes grown in the United States originate from the valley, whose productive soil is unmatched elsewhere in the country. California's spinach yield, for example is 60 percent more per acre than in the rest of the United States. The state's marine climate allows it to grow crops like broccoli that wilt in humid climates. California is the world's fifth-largest supplier of food, a big reason why the state would, if an independent country, be the 7th largest economy in the world.

 

But California's agricultural output demands a lot of water. Irrigation claims up to 41 percent of the state's water supply, while cities such as Los Angeles and San Francisco demand comparatively little. Crops such as almonds, grown exclusively in California in the United States, consume 600 gallons of water per pound of nuts, more than 25 times the water needed per pound of tomato. These water-intensive crops tend to have high profit margins, providing farmers with an incentive to plant them.

 

Given the scarcity of fresh water resources, farms have begun drilling deeper into the earth in search for groundwater. This activity is expensive and environmentally damaging. In November, Governor Jerry Brown signed the first law regulating groundwater extraction in California's history, but have given local government agencies a leisurely 26 years to implement these regulations. Meanwhile, farmers desperate to irrigate their crops will continue to deplete California's precious groundwater supply—with little short-term relief in sight.

 

For Californian agriculture, the future does not look bright. The current drought cost the sector an estimated $2.2 billion last year, and nearly 17,000 farmers lost their jobs in 2014. Given the importance of California's agriculture to the food supply of the United States—and the rest of the world—the state's drought is far from just a local concern.

 

"California has no contingency plan for a persistent drought like this one (let alone a 20-plus-year mega-drought), except, apparently, staying in emergency mode and praying for rain," wrote Magliotti. Residents across the country might want to join them.

Edited by Robert F. Smith

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Robert:

 

In California we have reached the limits of our ecology. Without further significant rain and snow we face unpleasant and/or expensive alternatives.

 

I never said all alternatives are not viable or that conservation is the only solution. You are responding to a straw man of your own making.

 

I've long said it is a serious problem. But the viable long term options are limited because if this drought persists for 30+ years like projected. Then living here with 37 million + people becomes problematic. We just don't have the water. Shorter term strict conservation is essential. Again we just don't have the water. Desalination is viable ONLY if tied with strict conservation. We just don't have the technology available for large scale desalination plants to provide all the water cities and agriculture want.

We have some hard choices to make

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I don't want this to sound disingenuous , but what are the saints in the area, and there are quite a few, doing to alleviate the drought problem? Years ago, in my region we were faced with a prolonged drought. Experts said it would take years of rain and snow to refill the reservoirs . Church leaders here declared a regional fast and prayers were sent heavenward .Temple attendance increased and the people made significant efforts to increase righteousness. Not only that, but the people " bought umbrellas" in anticipation of blessings. The rains came, and came and came. Snow pack increase considerably. The reservoirs will filled to overflowing within a year or so. Of course we must do the engineering and projects to create long term solutions to drought, but the Saints, in conjunction with all people of faith in God, can bring to bear a power to affect nature for a righteous purpose.

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Praying can't hurt. Pray like everything depended on God. Then roll up your sleeves and work like everything depended on you. Here in California we've built dams, and reservoirs, catchment areas, ponds, and lakes. We use gray water and other non-potable sources for irrigation of non-food crops, and things like firefighting.  Xerascaping is gaining acceptance, and drip irrigation for trees and shrubs needs more wide spread use. Low flowshowers, and low to non-water use toilets needs to be encouraged. 

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I don't want this to sound disingenuous , but what are the saints in the area, and there are quite a few, doing to alleviate the drought problem? Years ago, in my region we were faced with a prolonged drought. Experts said it would take years of rain and snow to refill the reservoirs . Church leaders here declared a regional fast and prayers were sent heavenward .Temple attendance increased and the people made significant efforts to increase righteousness. Not only that, but the people " bought umbrellas" in anticipation of blessings. The rains came, and came and came. Snow pack increase considerably. The reservoirs will filled to overflowing within a year or so. Of course we must do the engineering and projects to create long term solutions to drought, but the Saints, in conjunction with all people of faith in God, can bring to bear a power to affect nature for a righteous purpose.

Yes, but these are California people we are talking about. I think God sends their prayers to voicemail.

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Praying can't hurt. Pray like everything depended on God. Then roll up your sleeves and work like everything depended on you. Here in California we've built dams, and reservoirs, catchment areas, ponds, and lakes. We use gray water and other non-potable sources for irrigation of non-food crops, and things like firefighting.  Xerascaping is gaining acceptance, and drip irrigation for trees and shrubs needs more wide spread use. Low flowshowers, and low to non-water use toilets needs to be encouraged. 

But, if someone points out that non-mechanical composting toilets eliminate the need for huge amounts of water, the nay-sayers just won't hear of it.

 

I like what you are saying here, but you simply don't go far enough -- nor does Jerry Brown and the state legislature.  I don't even dare suggest the most precocious plan of all, because they would apply a straitjacket immediately and reopen Camarillo State Hospital, just for me -- but wait, they have made it a State University . . .

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Yes, but these are California people we are talking about. I think God sends their prayers to voicemail.

Or to his spam folder . . .

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Robert:

 

In California we have reached the limits of our ecology. Without further significant rain and snow we face unpleasant and/or expensive alternatives.

 

I never said all alternatives are not viable or that conservation is the only solution. You are responding to a straw man of your own making.

 

I've long said it is a serious problem. But the viable long term options are limited because if this drought persists for 30+ years like projected. Then living here with 37 million + people becomes problematic. We just don't have the water. Shorter term strict conservation is essential. Again we just don't have the water. Desalination is viable ONLY if tied with strict conservation. We just don't have the technology available for large scale desalination plants to provide all the water cities and agriculture want.

We have some hard choices to make

Water, water everywhere (in the ocean), but not a drop to drink.

 

Maybe a cost-benefit analysis would be timely:  Need to decide which "hard choices" cost more, the ones you like or the ones you don't like.  One can think small, or one can think big.  Right now, a lot of small thinking is taking place. Moreover, if we cannot make real progress in the small things, how much more difficult will it be to do the big things (with big price tags).

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Water, water everywhere (in the ocean), but not a drop to drink.

 

Maybe a cost-benefit analysis would be timely:  Need to decide which "hard choices" cost more, the ones you like or the ones you don't like.  One can think small, or one can think big.  Right now, a lot of small thinking is taking place. Moreover, if we cannot make real progress in the small things, how much more difficult will it be to do the big things (with big price tags).

 

Robert:

 

Ocean water isn't good for terrestrial plants, and animals. Some means has to be employed to take the salt out of it. There are essentially two means by which to do that evaporation, and filtration. Neither one has been shown to be up-scalable in size necessary to provide even a small town with sufficient potable water.

Scientists and engineers are working on it. So I expect they will succeed in the hopefully near future. However it is very hard to drink water you don't have yet.

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Robert:

 

Ocean water isn't good for terrestrial plants, and animals. Some means has to be employed to take the salt out of it. There are essentially two means by which to do that evaporation, and filtration. Neither one has been shown to be up-scalable in size necessary to provide even a small town with sufficient potable water.

Scientists and engineers are working on it. So I expect they will succeed in the hopefully near future. However it is very hard to drink water you don't have yet.

I see that you have never read or heard those poetic lines I quoted, and haven't the foggiest idea what they mean, but, really, more pretending on your part, instead of coming to grips with the hard realities?  Perhaps that is why California is in serious trouble now.

 

As for your false claim that desalination cannot "provide even a small town with sufficient potable water," perhaps you are still pretending that a small town is around 50,000 population.  In 1991, at a cost of $4 million, Santa Catalina Island began operation of a desalination plant -- supplying a third of the water needs of the population (they also tap an aquifer), which is now around 4,000, plus a million tourists per year.  Instead of pretending that it was unworkable, Southern California Edison operates the plant.  It is taken as a practical matter, and the costs are high.  Cost-benefit analysis again, something you seem to eschew.  Indeed, based on what you say, I'd expect you to shut down Catalina and move the population elsewhere.  Is that really a solution?

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I see that you have never read or heard those poetic lines I quoted, and haven't the foggiest idea what they mean, but, really, more pretending on your part, instead of coming to grips with the hard realities?  Perhaps that is why California is in serious trouble now.

 

As for your false claim that desalination cannot "provide even a small town with sufficient potable water," perhaps you are still pretending that a small town is around 50,000 population.  In 1991, at a cost of $4 million, Santa Catalina Island began operation of a desalination plant -- supplying a third of the water needs of the population (they also tap an aquifer), which is now around 4,000, plus a million tourists per year.  Instead of pretending that it was unworkable, Southern California Edison operates the plant.  It is taken as a practical matter, and the costs are high.  Cost-benefit analysis again, something you seem to eschew.  Indeed, based on what you say, I'd expect you to shut down Catalina and move the population elsewhere.  Is that really a solution?

 

You are wrong. I've read The Rime of the Ancient Mariner many times and understand its context. If you want to invoke the Supernatural in English romantic poetry be my guest, but when dealing in the natural world, including our use of water, it is best to skip it. If you want to get into ad hominem's I can go there. But I promise you you won't like the results.

 

A small town of 4,000 doesn't even register in the context of the 37 million+ people in California. So your $4 million for 4,000 residents works out to $1000 per person. At that rate it would take me 50 years to use enough water to justify the cost, and I use all the water I want right now. Catalina can justify it because of the expense of shipping water to the island for the use by the people for drinking, and washing there. No effort is extended to maintain the rest of the islands' flora and fauna. As you said yourself California agriculture is essential to not only California but to the US and to the rest of the world.

 

You tell me how many people live in a desert without water? Some 2.5 million moved in the US Dust Bowl Era drought, and that was short lived at about 8 years. Lets extend this drought for 30 or more years. How many people are going to stay and how many are going to leave?

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Maybe the Church leadership could make a proposal, a proposition if you will, that calls for a California state wide fast for rain. They could reach out to all community groups and ask for support. OK, now I've gone too far. Sorry.

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Maybe the Church leadership could make a proposal, a proposition if you will, that calls for a California state wide fast for rain. They could reach out to all community groups and ask for support. OK, now I've gone too far. Sorry.

 

It worked last year in my area.

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You are wrong. I've read The Rime of the Ancient Mariner many times and understand its context. If you want to invoke the Supernatural in English romantic poetry be my guest, but when dealing in the natural world, including our use of water, it is best to skip it. If you want to get into ad hominem's I can go there. But I promise you you won't like the results.

Since you clearly do not understand those lines, allow me to explain:  Humans cannot drink ocean water.  Had you understood that, you would not have made your obstuse and ridiculous comments -- assuming that you are sincere.

 

A small town of 4,000 doesn't even register in the context of the 37 million+ people in California. So your $4 million for 4,000 residents works out to $1000 per person. At that rate it would take me 50 years to use enough water to justify the cost, and I use all the water I want right now. Catalina can justify it because of the expense of shipping water to the island for the use by the people for drinking, and washing there. No effort is extended to maintain the rest of the islands' flora and fauna. As you said yourself California agriculture is essential to not only California but to the US and to the rest of the world.

I see that you carefully ignored the figure of a million visitors a year, who (you seem to suppose) don't drink water.  Anything to diminish or obfuscate.  Anything to avoid real cost-benefit analysis.  Why?  Is it only war you seek?  Where does sincerity come in, if at all?

 

You tell me how many people live in a desert without water? Some 2.5 million moved in the US Dust Bowl Era drought, and that was short lived at about 8 years. Lets extend this drought for 30 or more years. How many people are going to stay and how many are going to leave?

Could happen, of course.  Especially with dedicated nay-sayers at the helm.

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for a short term solution, you need to invite Queen Elizabeth ll the British monarch to visit. It frequently rains during or after her official visits! I know the drought is very serious and I'm only partly joking, it really does rain a lot on her visits. Did you see the jubilee celebration? Poured down. And the UK has had a few periods of drought - the Queen toured and it rained!

You mean, it ever stops raining in the UK?! :huh:  Color me "shocked." :o

 

(Just don't drown on us, Sheila!  We'd miss you too much! :D:friends:)

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Since you clearly do not understand those lines, allow me to explain:  Humans cannot drink ocean water.  Had you understood that, you would not have made your obstuse and ridiculous comments -- assuming that you are sincere.

 

I see that you carefully ignored the figure of a million visitors a year, who (you seem to suppose) don't drink water.  Anything to diminish or obfuscate.  Anything to avoid real cost-benefit analysis.  Why?  Is it only war you seek?  Where does sincerity come in, if at all?

 

Could happen, of course.  Especially with dedicated nay-sayers at the helm.

 

The Rime of the Ancient Mariner is a metaphor for the love trials of ordinary men. Where did I ever say they could drink ocean water? That is the point in apparently futile exercise to get you to realize that the only alternatives you have proposed are either contrary to physics or have not been demonstrated to be up-scaled enough to make much if any dent in this drought.

 

I didn't ignore it. It is just not a factor for the non-humans that call Santa Catalina home. Tourists bring in dollars not potable water. There are major yet to be resolved problems at the key human population centers with water pollution. Plus even digging wells for use by people does nothing for the other flora and fauna that live on the island.

 

The last thing I want is war. But wars will come whatever my personal desires. I have consistently said use less water. I don't just preach it, I live it. My yard is zerascaped, except for my vegetable garden, and I use drip irrigation there. I have two low flow toilets, and two low flow showers. I do my laundry in a front loader which uses less soap and water than the old top loader types do. I'm constantly on the lookout for ways I can use even less and still maintain my standard of living.

Unfortunately I have little control over where a significant amount of water goes in this state(agriculture), and no control over the weather.

 

Also, I have repeatedly said that desalination could help. Though for problems associated with up-scaling it has yet to live up to its potential. We are working on it, and hopefully in the not too distant future that problem will be resolved.

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So next in line in your efforts to contribute would be relocation perhaps? Moving anytime soon?

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So next in line in your efforts to contribute would be relocation perhaps? Moving anytime soon?

 

I'd put a few more things in front of that move. B:)

 

1st Thing would be to pray like everything depended on God. I do believe in miracles.

2nd Thing would be to work like everything depended on me.

3rd Thing would be to find even more ways to conserve water.

4th Thing would be to write my water district about my ideas to conserve water.

5th Thing  would be to write my local/state representatives about my ideas to conserve.

6th Thing would push even harder for good desalination plants

7th Thing if all that fails would then be I'd move.

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I thought you were fatalistic about relocation of population being required. You actually see it as merely one of the possibilities then?

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"Long term California is going to have to lose about 90% of its population to areas with more fresh water."

It seems to me if one believes CA is going to have to lose that much of its population, one would be in the process of moving for three reasons:

If one's job was not essential to CA's infrastructure, one should consider oneself part of the 90% rather than privilege one's status.

No matter how much one conserves, the lowest consumption is no consumption, iow not being there.

Moving before housing becomes in extraordinary high demand in water high areas due to 90% of Californians being relocated to these areas will be easier than waiting.

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I thought you were fatalistic about relocation of population being required. You actually see it as merely one of the possibilities then?

 

I tend to be pessimistic but not fatalistic about a great many things. I'm fast approaching 64 years old and not likely to live another 30+ years. But my kids and grands will so I have to believe that we are capable of many great and wonderful things, but I see little evidence that enough will be done to avoid the really bad things. So while I do recognize moving as a final possibility. I prefer to be working with Gods' help to solve the problem, then if I must move I will. 

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I tend to be pessimistic

 

 

Ah now I understand. 

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...................................................................   

The last thing I want is war. But wars will come whatever my personal desires. I have consistently said use less water. I don't just preach it, I live it. My yard is zerascaped, except for my vegetable garden, and I use drip irrigation there. I have two low flow toilets, and two low flow showers. I do my laundry in a front loader which uses less soap and water than the old top loader types do. I'm constantly on the lookout for ways I can use even less and still maintain my standard of living.

Unfortunately I have little control over where a significant amount of water goes in this state(agriculture), and no control over the weather.

 

Also, I have repeatedly said that desalination could help. Though for problems associated with up-scaling it has yet to live up to its potential. We are working on it, and hopefully in the not too distant future that problem will be resolved.

https://us-mg205.mail.yahoo.com/neo/launch?.partner=sbc&.rand=c3t0f2iqe7e27#story531 .

 

I don't live there now, but I am a native Californian, and I was once on my city's environmental task force there.  I recall a very nice member of that task force telling me how he rode his bike in order to help the environment.  That's nice, but it didn't seem to me that he understood the larger issue, which had to do with behavior of the masses.  I didn't tell him that he was pretending, but I knew that his comment was meaningless.  The only other realist on the task force (aside from me) was an expert on logistics.  He understood that numbers don't lie, and that dealing with environmental problems required brutal and ruthless honesty.  Most people there and on the regional planning commission were more concerned with politics.  We made little headway.  Even now, with dire consquences facing California, I predict that half-measures and inaction will characterize the future devolution of the state.  That will be a blow to the remainder of the United States, but particularly devastating to the Southwest.

 

Action could have been taken decades ago to ameliorate our drift toward oblivion, but that is now "water" under the bridge.

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Yeah, this is why I live on a boat. I can be ready to leave in 48 hours. Well after I get some varnish and caulking put on. If it's too cold I go out the gate and turn left, if it's too hot I turn right. I'm getting another solar panel in 2 weeks at the boat show. I need 3 more total and I can make 6 gallons per hour with out burning diesel or gas.

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https://us-mg205.mail.yahoo.com/neo/launch?.partner=sbc&.rand=c3t0f2iqe7e27#story531 .

 

I don't live there now, but I am a native Californian, and I was once on my city's environmental task force there.  I recall a very nice member of that task force telling me how he rode his bike in order to help the environment.  That's nice, but it didn't seem to me that he understood the larger issue, which had to do with behavior of the masses.  I didn't tell him that he was pretending, but I knew that his comment was meaningless.  The only other realist on the task force (aside from me) was an expert on logistics.  He understood that numbers don't lie, and that dealing with environmental problems required brutal and ruthless honesty.  Most people there and on the regional planning commission were more concerned with politics.  We made little headway.  Even now, with dire consquences facing California, I predict that half-measures and inaction will characterize the future devolution of the state.  That will be a blow to the remainder of the United States, but particularly devastating to the Southwest.

 

Action could have been taken decades ago to ameliorate our drift toward oblivion, but that is now "water" under the bridge.

 

That's why I tend to be pessimistic. I do what I can, encourage others to do more. I want a better world for not only myself but my kids, and grandkids. So much waste for short term gain. Thus are the ways of the world. Sad really.

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