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Thread: The California Drought

  1. #41
    Senior Member whitehonky's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SoMuchBetterThanU View Post
    We're gonna be ****ed if we don't get rain.
    http://www.accuweather.com/en/us/sou...monyr=2/1/2014

  2. #42
    The number I have usually read is that California agricultural water usage is about 75% and other people-usage is about 25%. You can't make up an agricultural water shortfall by drying out the cities; and blaming water problems on LA is a distraction (of course anyone who knows about the Hetch Hetchy probably understands that).

    Figure 1 of this source says 77% agriculture: http://www.environment.ucla.edu/repo...?parentid=4870
    and this legislative analyst office report addresses a number of points including agriculture > urban use, the amount of groundwater use, and the prices of agricultural water: http://www.lao.ca.gov/2008/rsrc/wate...er_102208.aspx

  3. #43
    Quote Originally Posted by BillyFromTheHills View Post
    My thinking was that groundwater could stave off the the worst of the "predicted" ag disaster, for this year, at least. Deficit spending, though....
    Have you ever been in the Central Valley of California? Salinas Valley? These ag areas are huge and incredibly productive, if these water shortages pan out as predicted it will have national and global implications for food shortages.

  4. #44
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    Its a recurring problem, folks in Calif have been living off prehistoric water for decades, gradually the water is running out.

    Food production will shift elsewhere in time, the problem is quantity, as the central valley is quite productive.

    There are some classic books on water issues in the West, oldie but goodie is Cadillac Desert.

    My mom's family came from Oklahoma during the Dust bowl, settled in Bakersfield, made a living from ag, oil, and rail.

    It ain't gonna get better...
    Last edited by Nurse Ben; 24th January 2014 at 07:47 PM.

  5. #45
    Quote Originally Posted by SkaredShtles View Post
    If California is anything like Colorado - the amount of water consumed by ag simply DWARFS the amount used by residential/urban.
    The CA Dept of Water Resources says: "In an average year California agriculture irrigates 9.6 million acres using roughly 34 million acre-feet of water of the 43 million acre-feet diverted from surface waters or pumped from groundwater." http://www.water.ca.gov/wateruseeffi.../agricultural/

    If I understand what they're saying, agriculture uses just under 80% of the water used in California. The kind of shortage that's possible this year necessarily affects agriculture in a big way. A 50% reduction by all non-ag uses would supply one-eighth of typical ag use--and of course, even such an (impossibly) huge reduction in non-ag use would not release much actual additional water for agricultural use in a year when the non-ag supply is also way below normal.

    Folks without much exposure to water issues in California may not appreciate how big a deal water is here. Water and water use are distributed very differently geographically--all the large urban areas import water, some from very far away. The San Joaquin Valley, probably the biggest agricultural producing area in the state, depends on imported water. Transforming semi-desert to urban development, and creating water intensive agriculture in arid areas like the west side of the San Joaquin Valley or desert valleys in Imperial and Riverside counties, has massively changed the face of the state since the years when John Muir could cross the San Joaquin Valley through a sea of wildflowers. Not surprisingly, there are conflicting claims on water and longstanding policy disagreements.

    I'm not an expert in any of this, but pumping and distributing additional groundwater in large quantities, for instance, requires identifying owners of water rights who are willing to let their water go, environmental review, permitting and paying for infrastructure. None of this is likely to come to fruition by summer in a state where a lot of voters have environmental concerns and readily accessible water storage and export projects have already probably been done.

  6. #46
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    Here are the historical allocations for the Central Valley Project: http://www.usbr.gov/mp/cvo/vungvari/...historical.pdf

    Look at "South of Delta Ag" vs. Urban to see how much the comparative cutbacks are. The percentages are based on percentages of their full contract allotments. That data shows up through last year. This year's initial allocation was only 5%. Here's the letter from DWR for the State Project: http://www.water.ca.gov/swpao/docs/notices/13-14.pdf The Bureau of Reclamation gave the same number for the federal Central Valley Project. Edit: That 5% number for the State Project is for both Ag and Urban. So Metropolitan Water District, Santa Clara Valley Water District, Alameda County WD, and Zone 7 (Pleasanton area) get cut back as much as Kern County Water Agency, which is the biggest (primarily) ag State Contractor.

    The South of Delta Ag CVP contractors (of which Westlands is the best known) don't all have high quality groundwater to pump. Westlands is the home of Kesterson... http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kesterson_Reservoir The Tulare Lake Basin area can generally pump GW to make up for it. They're mining ice age water, sure, but there's still plenty there. For now.

    Here's a #longread on State Water Project reliability: https://msb.water.ca.gov/documents/8...t_20131210.pdf And the older version: http://baydeltaoffice.water.ca.gov/s...L_2011_DRR.pdf

    Also, it's not so easy just to say, "Oh. Ag should cut back." We have a highly complex system of water rights. So that rice farmer in Colusa, whose land sits over a clay pan and is only really good for producing rice, can flood irrigate because he has higher priority than the almond farmer in Westlands and urban Southern California and parts of the Bay Area. The drought declaration the Governor made the other day makes it easier and more attractive for Sacramento Valley farmers to sell their water South and alleviate shortage by using market mechanisms. Here's a Powerpoint that kind of explains it: https://sunsite.berkeley.edu/WRCA/WR...7thNiblack.pdf
    Last edited by LightRanger; 24th January 2014 at 09:06 PM.

  7. #47
    Senior Member Baaahb's Avatar
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    Here's an interview with California's Secretary of Agriculture.

  8. #48
    Senior Member Baaahb's Avatar
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    I'm scratching my head on this one . It has some good info, but the focus on horse ranchers is so damn stupid. An entire economy (California's agriculture) is in danger of collapsing, dragging the rest of the country into hardship as well, and the writer is concerned about people's pets.

    This article says personal water use in CA is only 4% and that beef and dairy producers are the biggest users.
    Last edited by Baaahb; 25th January 2014 at 08:35 AM.

  9. #49
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    Quote Originally Posted by Baaahb View Post
    and the writer is concerned about people's pets.
    Baaahb is a troll*, who knew? I know a lot of people, albeit not in CA, that consider their "pets" to be family members. And no, I didn't read the article.

    * I meant that in the most affectionate way.
    "Nobody ever got my name right." - Me

  10. #50
    Ok, so I work in the water industry inCalifornia, specifically in groundwater. As has been said before, Ag/industrial water uses are largely ~80% of water consumed in California and domestic water in ~20%. While conservation by us home folk is very good it really doesn't amount to much in the end.

    Agriculture in California makes up a huge part of our state/nation and world food supplies and supports a tremendous proportion of our state’s economy. Much of agriculture is dependent upon surface water allocations, but has also supplemented their supply with groundwater. Many ag users rely heavily on groundwater alone. The ag users in the Sacramento Valley (north of the delta) have a tremendous groundwater resource at their disposal that does not have the compressible nature (subsidence) observed in the San Joaquin Valley (south of the delta). Crops in the north are being converted to fruit and nut crops(trees) which require some water even on the driest years to survive, in the south largely row crops which can be allowed to go fallow in the dry years. So it seems that the ag industry is making some changes based upon where the water is located in our state. However, SIGNIFICANT water conservation changes need to and can be made in the agricultural industry (this costs $$ too). A 10% savings in this industry alone results in a tremendous volume of water.

    As many are aware, California is bound in a mess of water and environmental law. For example, in the Sacramento Valley we are limited by environmental law from injecting or allowing for large percolation basins to recharge groundwater. Southern California is very active in this arena. Aquifer storage and recovery can be viewed as our savings account for the dry times. We have been too complacent about our surface water resources to push to get these programs going and now we are facing already depressed groundwater tables with many water quality issues from past industrial uses (solvents, rocket fuel, metals, and salts).


    Here is some additional doom and gloom to throw on the pile for this year. I have lived in Folsom for a little over 20 years and have never seen the lake this low, it has been very low before on a number of occasions, but wow. Here are some cool videos a friend shared with me:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0XKlT...ature=youtu.be
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BvCIw...ature=youtu.be
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lzfJx...ature=youtu.be
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n-Ysh...ature=youtu.be
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KzAyB...ature=youtu.be

    PUNCHLINE HERE: So the water intakes in Lake Folsom for the City of Folsom, City ofRoseville, and the San Juan Water District which serve roughly half of the greater Sacramento area will likely suck air soon if we do not receive significant storms. This results in the region turning to groundwater to supply the needs of the region. All the pumps turn on (read high electricity needs), groundwater levels begin to drop, and this in turn requires additional power to pump the groundwater from deeper and deeper levels. The power generated for the area is highly dependent upon hydro-electric power from Lake Folsom and up stream sources, Folsom will be in dead pool and cannot generate power. The result is that SMUD must purchase high$$$ power from other sources. So we will have little water to begin with and it will cost a lot more to get it. This will not only affect those of us who live directly in the middle of it as these cost will also hit the ag industry hard and be passed along to the consumers. It’s going to be a tough year. Hopefully, these events will spur significant changes in our approach to water resource management and begin dialog on reform of our environmental and water rights law.

    Enough doom and gloom…this is a ski site. I’m holding out for a FABULOUS FEBRUARY, a MIRACLE MARCH, an AMAZING APRIL, and what the hell a MAGNIFICENT MAY and skiing into July! Pray for snow, we are in need of some good turns. Cheers.
    Last edited by godwin916; 25th January 2014 at 09:27 AM.

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