Sunday, August 31, 2014

Engineering a Drought

My wife and I had a few days to drive north through California past the largest reservoirs: Lake Oroville and Lake Shasta.  They are currently at 31% and 30% of total capacity, although they appear much lower per this.  The total amount of water stored is about half of what it normally is at the end of a summer.  This is bad, but there is still a lot of water up there.

A young man showed up at church who had been living in Africa.  He heard all the news about the drought, then was shocked to see all the lawn watering going on.  According to him, a real drought is when you turn the faucet on and nothing comes out.  A water crisis is when a baboon dies and falls into the village water supply.  Only a few central valley areas are facing dry faucets at the moment, so in some sense the drought really hasn't begun for the vast majority of Californians.  Another way we might feel the drought is through water charges.  Some areas of the state until recently were only charged for a water hookup, but not the water used.  A glance at historical water rates shows that this is significantly lagging inflation.

But to be real, urban Californians only use 20% of the water compared to 80% for the agricultural sector.  Or so it is misleadingly reported.  Actually, the environmental mandates come to almost 50%, with agriculture more like 40% and urban at 10%.  The environmental use is hard to find, but one link is here.  And here.  The documentation stops at 2010, which seems to be just before a bunch of court decisions to increase the environmental share of the water usage.  It is tempting to think that California's policy of being a magnet for illegals, welfare recipients and homeless contributes to this, but I suspect that this is negligible.  

The latest article on the subject is from the Washington Post.  As usual, there is no mention of water usage and environmentalism or marijuana growing.  What is mentioned is groundwater aquifers and global warming.  So we will muddle through as always.  


Ursula said...

Greetings from a country where they put on a water ban for sprinklers in April. IN APRIL. Who on earth, other than the English it appears, does sprinkle their lawn with water when the heavens are open? Only the English, only the English, Looney. Let's not go where lunatics congregate.

I haven't taken much notice of it but dare say it's all over the world: The cold water bucket challenge. The Angel who, on the whole, does restrain himself on anything to do with politics drily (!)remarked yesterday that, considering the shortage of water in many parts of the world, this blatant waste is a kick in the teeth to those who have to walk miles - if at all - to secure that most basic of human 'rights', namely water. Quite. It's a right so human that, in the Western World, you may be chased to pay your water bill but the one utility the law won't allow for you be cut off.

Yes, waste and charity. Please do let me know what you think. What I think that - in the name of charity ie raising money for the unfortunate - there is a vast wasting of resources. Take that water bucket challenge. If I want to give ten pounds to a good cause I give ten pounds. Why would I make an exhibition of myself, waste water and thus "raise" money for those who don't have water? I remember arriving in England and the concept of "sponsoring" was so foreign to me you might as well have plonked me into China. When people tried to sign me up for something I'd say: Here have the money. But I DO NOT want to run a marathon. Never mind the humiliation of finding "sponsors". Run your own mile. Maybe I am missing something.

Forgive me that little outpouring, Looney. Your mentioning of water was all the cold shower I needed.


Rummuser said...

Human beings have been muddling through for thousands of years and will continue to do so with great elan. But you and I have a lot of time before anything serious will happen to mankind.