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California water

Discussion in 'Off Topic' started by derekt75, Apr 13, 2015.

  1. derekt75

    derekt75 Member

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    It hasn't rained much in the last couple weeks and it's getting warmer, so I just turned on my lawn sprinkers. Three days a week. which is what I'd be doing if the reservoirs were full. My 2yr old daughter takes a bath 3 days a week now. just like she always has. In fact, the only change to my water habits has been that I do a lot more laundry now that I have a second daughter who spits up all over her clothes and whoever's-holding-her's clothes every hour or two.

    I'm not really sure what to make of it. Water is still inexpensive. Everyone in my neighborhood has a green lawn, so I'm going to water mine. I turn on the faucet and water comes out.

    What should we be doing?
    Agriculture uses something like 80% of California's water. Do we tell the farmers, "Sorry, you can't work."? That seems foolish. Food prices go up for the whole country while CA's unemployed population goes up? No thanks.
    They're talking about desalinization plants for CA. One of the most energy intensive ways to find fresh water will increase carbon emissions and possibly contribute to the climate change that's causing less rainfall in CA in the first place. That sounds foolish. Taking shorter showers has little downside, but I don't think it has realistic upside, either. When rainfall is half what is needed, saving a half a percent on showers doesn't seem like it's going to cut it.
    We can all let our lawns die off. I'm not really opposed to that solution, but that's going to require something from the state lawmakers. It's not realistic to hope that I'm going to allow my lawn to die off when all my neighbors have green lawns.

    What happens if we don't?
    It seems unthinkable that I'd turn on my faucet and no water would come out. and yet it seems unthinkable that we can continue to use more water than we have and still have water left. What happens and when if we don't change our usage habits?

    It seems like now is the right time to change. I remember last year shaking my head about the November headlines saying that California was now in an exceptional drought. as if we didn't know that was going to happen when the rainy season ended in April. Well, now another disappointing rain season is ending. It's time to do something now because we know that the reservoirs and snow pack aren't going to get charged for 7 more months. We don't know if next winter will be another disappointment or if next winter will be an El Nino year, but we do know how much water we have to work with through November. Let's not act surprised that it doesn't rain in the California summer.
     
  2. Stoneymonster

    Stoneymonster Active Member

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    Agriculture uses inefficient irrigation methods because they can since water for them is still ridiculously cheap. Raise the price on water and they will be forced to find better, more efficient systems of irrigation. We can stop all urban use of water and it still won't make much more than a small dent in the problem. Agriculture is the elephant in the room, and punches above its 2% of the economy weight politically. Pricing is a fundamental signaling and allocation technique that is just ignored due to outdated agreements and grandfathered rules from the early 20th century.
     
  3. ecarfan

    ecarfan Well-Known Member

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    The solution to a limited water supply is to establish a minimum floor rate per resident and significantly raise the price of water for everyone for usage above that rate. Businesses have to pay more as well as residential customers.

    Water in California is too cheap. Appeals for voluntary conservation do next to nothing.

    When a resource becomes scarce and expensive, usage habits will change and technological innovation will be applied to come up with solutions.
     
  4. Cosmacelf

    Cosmacelf Active Member

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    There is no water crisis. Hello? CA has an ocean of water on its coasts. All it takes is desalination plants which may make water more expensive, but we will never run out.
     
  5. deonb

    deonb Active Member

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    Not if you use Integrated Nuclear Desalination plants.

    It's sad that desert-covered countries like the U.A.E and Saudi Arabia has solved this decades ago, and California is still struggling.

    PS: Global warming isn't the root cause of the CA rainfall cycles. It may make the effect of it worse, but even if the entire world stops producing CO2 tomorrow, you still would need to solve the CA water problem by itself.
     
  6. trils0n

    trils0n 2013 P85

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    Correct. Most large agribusiness pays a fixed (trivial) cost for water. There is no (financial) incentive to efficiently use water. Ditch irritation is still used, even though it is many times more water intensive than spray watering. Drip irrigation is many times more efficient than spray watering, yet almost no farms use it because it is expensive. Since water has fixed cost for most farms, regardless of usage, there is no desire to cut usage. A huge, complicated legal system around water usage has been created to ensure that large ag business has cheap (essentially free) water.
     
  7. clea

    clea Member

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  8. FlasherZ

    FlasherZ Sig Model S + Sig Model X + Model 3 Resv

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    Meanwhile, I haven't been able to cut my grass in 2 weeks because if I try, I have to send in the trackhoe to pull the lawnmower out once it's declared sunk and buried.

    *ties a cloud to the back of a few westbound jets*
     
  9. Stoneymonster

    Stoneymonster Active Member

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    While frustrating, that is a (cough) drop in the bucket. It's kind of like climate change arguments where people suggest replacing incandescent bulbs while China burns megatons of coal for cooking and heat. Feels good, likely doesn't make a difference.

    - - - Updated - - -

    We thank you for your efforts :)
     
  10. FlasherZ

    FlasherZ Sig Model S + Sig Model X + Model 3 Resv

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    I flew to San Jose last Monday night. That rain Tuesday morning? I brought it with me. Too bad it ended up depositing more over here when I returned.
     
  11. 1208

    1208 Active Member

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    #11 1208, Apr 13, 2015
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 13, 2016
  12. WeazL

    WeazL Moderator - Hawaii

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    Indeed--necessity is the mother of invention.


    @ derekt75, desalinization is a promising strategy to help overcome water shortages now and in the future, not just for California, but other western states like Nevada too. In an ideal scenario, these plants would be powered by alternative energy sources such as solar, wind, hydro (ocean), etc.
     
  13. Stoneymonster

    Stoneymonster Active Member

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    That cracks me up. Ocean! Desalinate yourself!
     
  14. WeazL

    WeazL Moderator - Hawaii

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    :tongue: Tidal power.
     
  15. cpa

    cpa Member

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    Stoney, I presume that you are referring to the Sacramento-San Joaquin Valley irrigation methods.

    Please explain your fact that ag uses "inefficient irrigation methods." I do a lot of work for farmers of all sorts of crops in the Valley, and all of them use underground drip for tomatoes, almonds, vines and pomegranates with sensors to monitor the levels of soil moisture. I would hardly consider drip irrigation that is directed at the root zones of the plants "inefficient." UC Extension Services' studies indicate that underground drip is nearly 90% efficient. What method do you propose to increase this efficiency? Very few farmers in the Valley are growing row crops any more just because of the water situation. Canneries and packers have extensive recycling and filtering processes to reuse water in their businesses. I concede that certain areas of California still use sprinkler, flood and pivot irrigation, but those generally are in the desert areas or in the inland valleys off the Coast. So, I would like to know the basis of your assertion.

    Yes, some farmers are still stubborn or stupid or cheap to consider better irrigation methods. But our agricultural boom and bust cycles have ways of weeding out (pun intended) the marginal players.

    What is overlooked by most people is that California has gone from 3,000,000 people about one hundred years ago to nearly 40,000,000 today. When the Central Valley Project was undertaken in 1961-62 our population was around 16,000,000. People keep coming to California, breeding and staying.

    But I do not see anyone proposing that we kick 20 million people out of the state back to wherever they came from. That would free up about 5-8 million ac-ft of water per year (more than the capacity of Shasta Lake) for the rest of us to share. Instead, Coastal California wants more so the rest of us have to do with less.

    Something tells me that the return on investment for a gallon of water used in the Silicon Valley is many times greater than the return on investment on that gallon of water used to produce food and fiber, and that is the underlying reason for trying to eliminate agriculture from picture.
     
  16. Kbra

    Kbra Member

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    Not a bad idea if its ran of clean energy sources like Solar and Nuclear.
     
  17. Johan

    Johan Took a TSLA bear test. Came back negative.

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    It would be better to use electricity generated from renewables to offset/cancel out coal and natural gas and instead find less energy intensive solutions to the fresh water issue (conservation + better methods of desalination if necessary, such as integrated nuclear which works "hand in glove" for this).
     
  18. Stoneymonster

    Stoneymonster Active Member

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    Cpa- are you saying that agriculture has reached the limit of efficiency and there are no farms practicing outdated methods? All the sources I've read indicate that while progress has been made, there's a long way to go and at least a strong plurality using sprinkler and flood irrigation still.
     
  19. Lloyd

    Lloyd Active Member

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    #19 Lloyd, Apr 13, 2015
    Last edited: Apr 13, 2015
    The California Costal Comission has denied all permits for new contruction of desalination plants on the Central Coast. With a degree in Marine Biology, I feel their denial was not justified.

    Recently Cambria was able to get an emergency order from the state which allowed them to proceed without permission from the Coastal Comission, but the order expired while everyone was trying to figure out who will pay for the 58 million to build it and the power to operate it in the future. Construction will take several years once started.

    At California's peak rate, just the power to desalinate a gallon of Water is $.01 Thus the power requirement for one Unit of water is $7.50 at peak residential rates. Locally community water users pay $7.82 to 9.80 per unit now. Desal water will triple rates for local users, but better than no water!!! I am lucky and on a well, in a good area with more water than usual.
     

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