California Drought

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As of 1 May, the state-wide snowpack water content was only 3% of the average for that date. As the rain and snow season ends, the 12 most significant reservoirs were at 45% of capacity. The average for that date is 77%. Note that the averages include prior drought years, not only for the current drought but also for other droughts.
Oregon and Washington also declared various drought emergencies.
<rant> My local water agency imposed new restrictions on the use of water to irrigate my garden. Micromanaging my water use, the agency not only decreed that I can run my sprinklers only twice a week but also on which days -- Mondays, and Thursdays. Normally, I work in my garden on Thursdays; but now the ground will be too wet. I will have to change to Wednesdays. Will they next come into my house a time how long I shower?
In the meantime across California, land developers are still getting new water connections. While existing residents and businesses are facing rationing, developers are creating demands for even more water -- water that does not exist -- for homes, factories, offices, restaurants, etc. Also, rice and cotton -- both very thirsty crops -- are still being planted. </rant>
--
David E. Ross
Climate: California Mediterranean, see
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I understand Calif is getting closer to drinking some of that recycled waste water.
I'm for thinking bigger. We need Calif agriculture to feed us and the country. A mega project to build a pipeline to the Columbia River is a solution for the longer term.
As for the crude attempts to slow down water consumption, what do you expect? Without increasing supply none of "solutions" are going to work.
Don't expect any politician to endorse slowing or reversing growth.
--
Dan Espen

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Dan Espen wrote: ...

already does in some places, they pump it back through a wetland or put it back underground and then pump it back up and run it through a treatment plant again. these are now getting more and more common and people stop objecting because that's pretty similar to what people in the rest of the country also do (they drink treated water that comes from rivers that have other cities upstream).

peanuts compared to what they could accomplish if they just stopped dumping all their treated water and storm run off into the oceans and recycled more water. they'd be just fine. it's just that it's been so cheap now to just dump it that is what they've set up to do. this is changing...

there's plenty of places that won't develop any more as there is no water and they've so poorly managed their wells that the groundwater is gone now too. CA is a good example of how to be environmental on the surface but their overall system is not integrated or designed for arid spells longer than a few years instead it was designed to exploit cheap water and it's done that for 90 years.
if there continue to be low snowpacks for the Sierras and Colorado Rockies then things will get pretty interesting for Arizona and LV but we may not hit those too hard for a few years yet if we're lucky (hope the el nino gives a break this late spring and next winter).
songbird
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I don't think there is anywhere they go directly from sewage treatment to back into water supply. They do have plants that apply sufficient treatment.
Last I heard San Diego was getting close to giving it a try.

I've never seen the Columbia in person, but from the maps and pictures, I don't see how "peanuts" applies.
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On 5/19/2015 7:04 AM, Dan Espen wrote:

The Columbia River flows through Washington and Oregon. Both states have declared drought emergencies in some form.
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David E. Ross
Climate: California Mediterranean, see
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Yes, I heard that this AM so I knew that before posting.
I just checked what I "assumed". The drainage basin of the Columbia includes 7 states and a Canadian province.
Lets hope we don't have to tap the Yukon.
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Dan Espen

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Dan Espen wrote:

i'm reading too many project descriptions and statuses to keep them all straight, but seems i recall a pilot project there which is not yet feeding water to the mains, but it could be and if the drought persists it may get switched over. another near SF comes to mind too but i'm not sure that is online yet or just starting the next stage, but it's coming.

peanuts is what you can move via pipeline from there to California as compared to what you could do for the same money spent on projects that reuse existing sources.
the large CWP uses huge pumps to move water from the north to the south which also uses a lot of electricity (some which they regain on the other side from generation but the cost is still high). this is only a small fraction of the water used in CA for irrigation.
to move a much larger portion of the Columbia would need many more pipelines than one. that's not a minor expense for pumping, materials to build it, maintenance, etc.
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On 5/20/2015 2:02 PM, songbird wrote [in part]:

The California State Water Project is possibly the largest customer for electricity in the state.
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David E. Ross
Climate: California Mediterranean, see
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David E. Ross wrote:

i'd believe it because i've come across some of the numbers in recent readings.
with the drought it is lowering the ability of the state to generate hydroelectric power and you folks are lucky that the state mandate for solar and wind has increased those supplies as that has helped a great deal, but also it is causing more natural gas burning.
somewhat related:
as i'd recently been reading up on Owens River/Lake/valley i was interested to come across this in the news:
http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-ln-aqueduct-drought-20150514-story.html
for something that had been running since 1913 to be shut off until November gives an idea of how deep this drought has become.
recent rains/snows in Colorado have upped some of the percentages for runoff so we hope this continued gift from El Nino keeps on rolling...
songbird
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On 5/18/2015 11:22 AM, David E. Ross wrote:

My sympathy for drought hardships, but changing the day you work in your garden? I hope that is the worst that befalls you :o) Watering restrictions (hours, days, no run-off) have been in force in Florida for years. Clearwater installed an extensive reclaimed water system for watering lawns years ago. Some areas around Tamps bay also ban sale of fertilizer during certain months due to run-off polluting Tampa Bay. There are too many folks who follow the "if a little is good, then a lot is great" in fertilizer, herbicide, insecticide use; very sad.

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On 5/18/2015 11:32 AM, Norminn wrote [in part]:

The problem is not what day I work in my garden. It is the micromanaging of my use of water.
Originally, they decreed that I could irrigate only Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. In a three-week period, that was nine days. Until that decree, I chose to irrigate every third day. In three weeks, that would be Monday, Thursday, Sunday, Wednesday, Saturday, Tuesday, Friday, and (in the fourth week) Monday again. That would be only seven days. That is correct, their decree meant I could actually irrigate two extra days in a three-week period. I applied for a waiver to continue using less water. They rejected my request because it would make monitoring irrigation across the community too complicated.
We are already irrigating parks, school playfields, golf courses, landscaped street medians, and other large scale areas with reclaimed water. Individual gardens are not included because amateurs such as me might accidentally cross-connect reclaimed water lines with potable water lines.
I generally feed my garden only once a year, in the spring. Fertilizer promotes plant growth that requires additional water. With water bills exceeding the sum of all other utility costs -- electricity, natural gas, and phone -- before restrictions went into force, I could not afford to have my garden develop excess foliage. Even with a 19% reduction in water use compared with two years ago, my water bills are still close to the sum of the other utilities.
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David E. Ross
Climate: California Mediterranean, see
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David E. Ross wrote:

i didn't even think they bothered to measure it as there was so little to measure?
but, yep, the snow pack situation is not good for CA this snow melt season.
there has been a few rains recently and it looks like more will be possibly coming soon, but until it happens i sure wouldn't count on it.
this is the link i check (later in the day after things get more updated):
http://cdec.water.ca.gov/cgi-progs/reservoirs/RES
by far it isn't the whole story as there is much ground water being pumped and some sewage now being recycled and the water reused. desal is not really an answer as it is very expensive compared to what could be done instead with more storm water capture more recycling and more adjustments to rivers and ground water recharge basins.

there is so much more recycling and rain water capture/storage and reuse that can be done that the real shame in all of this is that the amount of water that is being cleaned up and then dumped into the sea that instead could be used for groundwater recharge and many other purposes. California has plenty of water, it's just that up to now it's been cheap enough to dump instead of figure out how to reuse and it's been easier to direct rain/rivers to flow through the cities instead of slowing and soaking in some of that instead.
right now the el nino is getting stronger and perhaps it will help this last bit of spring for some moisture, but they are also hoping it will help drive a wetter than normal year. we can hope so for the sake of CA and the other Colorado River basin states.
as i've been watching the radars lately it seems that there is a fair bit of rain and storms happening, but they are still not dropping a large enough amount of snow or rain into the CR basin or in northern CA. if we could have a few good storms in either of those places that would help a lot...
Lake Powell and Lake Mead are at interesting levels and forecast to still keep dropping. that means some interesting times possibly this year or next for Arizona as their water gets reduced and a slight reduction for Vegas, but Vegas has done a lot to recycle and reuse (they pump treated water back to Lake Mead so they can draw more water out, but they also require any places built to have a plan for recycling and reusing water and reducing water, so they're not quite as thirsty down there as compared to what they used to be). still they are finishing up their emergency intake from Lake Mead (that will work even if Lake Mead turns back into the CR again).
as for your rant, i suspect they stagger watering days to keep the load on the overall system more balanced.
in any arid climate, rain water harvesting, deep mulching, wind breaks, swales, etc are all very important elements if you're going to try to grow vegetables or fruits on plants that aren't acclimated to the climate.
it's been pretty dry here lately too, with perhaps an inch of rain the past few weeks. as usual the storms go north and south of us or break up due to the valley effect. i've had to water lightly a few of the seeded areas i put in and the ditch out back is down quite a bit from where you'd normally expect it to be this time of the year. it's just how it goes here sometimes. the well is holding up ok, we're down pretty deep and in the middle of the groundwater flow too, so not too likely to dry up, i also try not to use it too much as rainwater is much more preferable...
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On 5/18/2015 6:00 PM, songbird wrote [in part]:

No. Everyone in the community now irrigates on Mondays and Thursdays.
Thousand Oaks (a neighboring city) proposed specific days for irrigating gardens, with odd addresses on certain days and even addresses on other days. The Public Works staff, however, pointed out that if everyone ran their sprinklers on their permitted days before 9:00am (beyond that time irrigating was already prohibited), there would not be enough pressure in the mains during those times to support fire-fighting. In some parts of Los Angeles, having alternating days for irrigating gardens resulted in aged mains rupturing, wasting thousands or even millions of gallons of water.
By the way, see my "Gardening During a Drought" at <http://www.rossde.com/garden/drought.html .
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David E. Ross
Climate: California Mediterranean, see
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David E. Ross wrote:

i read your other post, so while it may not make sense in some ways it does make sense for the enforcement aspect. consider in the age of the cellphone that takes pictures. if the city had to deal with every nosy neighbor sending in pictures of the "deviants" then it would be more work to deal with those complaints (correcting them).

i did. while most of it i agree with you don't say much about rainwater capture/storage, landscaping to retain water (slow, spread, soak) and wind breaks aren't really mentioned either.
where you mention mulch it is to say enough to cover the soil which is better than nothing, but beyond that a deeper mulch can be much better, especially if you have drip irrigation below it.
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On 5/19/2015 4:46 AM, songbird wrote [in part]:

When we do get rain, more then 2/3 falls in December, January, and February; often, that is more than 3/4. A cistern large enough to supply water from March through November is quite out of the question.
My landscape does indeed retain rain. Last week, we had 0.34 inches, which is a lot for the entire month of May. I have not run my sprinklers since last Wednesday and will not run them tomorrow. (The Monday and Thursday only schedule does not go into effect until 1 June.)

I try to maintain several inches of leaf mulch where there is no ground cover. Although I place twigs and small branches on top, the wind often reduces the thickness of the mulch. My valley white oak cannot survive without a thick mulch of leaves; I applied the mulch and then anchored chicken wire on top. This will require quite some effort to renew the mulch as it becomes compost.
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David E. Ross
Climate: California Mediterranean, see
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On 5/19/2015 10:10 AM, David E. Ross wrote:

I've used bird netting to anchor mulch for that very reason: when it's time to remove it to add more mulch, it's just a matter of lifting off the anchoring rocks and bricks, after which the netting handles easily. Plus, the black color is very inconspicuous.
Even in the land of 10,000+ lakes, many cities routinely have watering restrictions, mainly due to our over-preoccupation with having thick, green, weed-free lawns.
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wrote:

Plastic deer fencing works well, inexpensive, and easy to roll/unroll so easy to apply/remove/store. http://www.lowes.com/pd_53046-13113-400066___?productId458958&pl=1&Ntt=plastic+deer+fencing
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David E. Ross wrote:

i wasn't meaning about your site in particular, but when speaking of arid climates there should be mentions that those sorts of things can help a great deal. many people have roofs and the downspouts go right into the drains, they have no features in their lawns to capture, slow, spread and soak rains, they have no mulch layers, they don't consider the wind and how it can dry out areas when it isn't blocked, etc.
as for roof capture of rain and getting through an entire season, that is good, but even if that is too big a consideration, even a few hundred gallons every time it rains would make a dent in the water bill for a few months and take some of the damand off the central water supply. an entire city setup with a few hundred gallons for each household would take a lot of storm water that they used to have to treat and use it instead to irrigate and help recharge the groundwater (which many cities are now drawing on via wells to supplement their other water supplies).

that's good and of course it all helps.

one of the nice things about an arid climate is that mulch lasts much longer. around here wood chips are good for a few years - well rotted wood chips turn clay into pretty good garden soil.
songbird
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On Monday, May 18, 2015 at 11:42:19 PM UTC-7, David E. Ross wrote:

Note what David said about "aging mains". Some of the municipal "plumbing" is 100 years old or more. Disaster waiting to happen.
HB

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On Wednesday, May 20, 2015 at 7:44:31 PM UTC-7, Hypatia Nachshon wrote:

Update: Disasters ARE happening. Every few days we get news that another ancient main has broken with resultant damage to houses, people displaced, traffic disrupted. Wonder who pays the bill for public safety personnel an d replacement of infrastructure. MWD (Metropolitan Water District) has had a lot of nasty reports about management.
HB

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