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The ongoing drought in the Western United States has caused so much groundwater loss that the earth has risen 0.16 inch on average in the past 18 months — up to 0.6 inch in the snow-deprived mountains of California.

That is the grim finding of a new joint study by the University of California San Diego's Scripps Institute of Oceanography and the United States Geological Survey. The greatest rise of the earth's surface has been along the Pacific Coast and Sierra Mountains.

Groundwater loss from early 2013 has been 63 trillion gallons. That is the equivalent of flooding four inches of water across the land west of the Rocky Mountains.

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Javajoe25 Aug. 23, 2014 @ 12:42 p.m.

Gulp. That's a lot of water, Don. I would think the absence of water underground would result in the earth surface sinking, not rising, but what do I know?

I do feel we all need to do our part so I've eliminated the water from my scotch and water. I don't know if it's helping, but I do feel happier about the whole situation.

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Don Bauder Aug. 23, 2014 @ 4:13 p.m.

JavaJoe25: You will win a medal of honor for drinking Scotch straight to help the Earth. If you drink any hard liquor straight, it is more difficult for people to lace your drink. Best, Don Bauder

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ImJustABill Aug. 24, 2014 @ 8:26 a.m.

Thank you for your difficult sacrifice!! Every bit helps!

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Don Bauder Aug. 24, 2014 @ 7:03 p.m.

ImJustABill: JavaJoe25 deserves a Purple Heart for bravery. Best, Don Bauder

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shirleyberan Aug. 23, 2014 @ 3:06 p.m.

Yes, I have found that straight vodka is a help to the drought too. About the ice...

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Don Bauder Aug. 23, 2014 @ 4:14 p.m.

shirleyberan: Check the label on that vodka. You may be helping the Russian economy. Best, Don Bauder

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shirleyberan Aug. 23, 2014 @ 4:32 p.m.

I like Russian writers but I'm thinking of switching to Swedish vodka. I understand it's natural and rich.

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Don Bauder Aug. 23, 2014 @ 4:43 p.m.

shirleyberan: That reminds me of a Woody Allen story. He boasted that he had taken a speed-reading course. He said, "I read War & Peace in 30 minutes. It was about Russia." Best, Don Bauder

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shirleyberan Aug. 23, 2014 @ 4:54 p.m.

Ha ha - Woody is a simp, same movie, different decade. Boris Yeltsin was my favorite drunken dancer. Love that guy!

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Don Bauder Aug. 23, 2014 @ 7:41 p.m.

shirleyberan: I didn't know Boris Yeltsin was a dancer. Drinker perhaps. Dancer? Best, Don Bauder

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shirleyberan Aug. 23, 2014 @ 5:09 p.m.

Didn't flag. Want to explain to Don the Swiss vodka is the red bottle. I don't know the difference, Swede or, but I will find out.

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Don Bauder Aug. 23, 2014 @ 7:43 p.m.

shirleyberan: You don't know the difference between Sweden and Switzerland? The latter is the place to stash your funds and dodge taxes. Best, Don Bauder

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shirleyberan Aug. 23, 2014 @ 5:54 p.m.

Don - Swiss is where I should put my illegally obtained money, or Caiman Island banks? I'm just trying to move closer to Shelter Island where I met my husband.

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Don Bauder Aug. 23, 2014 @ 7:45 p.m.

shirleyberan: Actually, some obscure tax havens like Mauritius are grabbing market shares from Switzerland, which is beginning to cooperate with officials in other countries. Best, Don Bauder

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shirleyberan Aug. 23, 2014 @ 6:10 p.m.

Don - The only book review I faked was in 5th grade. I felt like an idiot after. Ed and I had the same engiish techer at Hoover High so I thought it would work the same. When they ask you what you thought, you can say "it was okay". No one in my family ever had the brains to help me in any growing. Ed is a defeated family message.

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Don Bauder Aug. 23, 2014 @ 7:46 p.m.

shirleyberan: I trust your English teacher insisted that you capitalize "English." Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder Aug. 23, 2014 @ 9:05 p.m.

shirleyberan: Helped? How? Best, Don Bauder

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Ponzi Aug. 23, 2014 @ 8:55 p.m.

Why add ice to vodka or other high-proof liquors. Just keep them in the freezer where they get icy cold but do not freeze.

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Don Bauder Aug. 24, 2014 @ 6:58 a.m.

Ponzi: OK, but don't you get a kick out of swirling the ice around your drink? That fun would be over. Best, Don Bauder

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shirleyberan Aug. 23, 2014 @ 11:20 p.m.

Capital E nglish and teAcher, whatever dude. You're the most normal of us.

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Don Bauder Aug. 24, 2014 @ 6:59 a.m.

shirleyberan: How many of us on this blog are normal? Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder Aug. 24, 2014 @ 7:14 a.m.

Peggy Sue Adamson Loughery, Vic Right, JavaJoe 25; Scripps says that the loss of water causes the Western U.S. to rise up like an uncoiled spring. The tectonic plate on which the U.S. West rests rises as a result of the water leaving. However, this does not worsen the risk of earthquake. Best, Don Bauder

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Ken Harrison Aug. 24, 2014 @ 8:01 a.m.

All this back and forth has made me dizzy. I'm going to go flush my toilet for no reason.

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Don Bauder Aug. 24, 2014 @ 7:06 p.m.

Ken Harrison: Bad boy. A water shortage is California's most serious problem, long range. Best, Don Bauder

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ImJustABill Aug. 24, 2014 @ 8:32 a.m.

So I'm a bit torn. Based on the prior posts I should curb water use in my alcoholic beverage. But my beverage of choice tends to be a San Diego based microbrew - maybe a Green Flash IPA or a Ballast Point Sculpin IPA if I'm willing to splurge for a $12+ 6-pack.

But San Diego microbrews are using local water - so maybe I should switch to a beer brewed in a non-drought area?

Ah to heck with it - I'm just going to drink whatever I like.

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Don Bauder Aug. 24, 2014 @ 7:07 p.m.

ImJustABill: That's one way to forget the water shortage. Best, Don Bauder

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MURPHYJUNK Aug. 24, 2014 @ 9:22 a.m.

so, the water loss happens regardless of what we do as occupants of the planet .

no one to take up a collection this time around.

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Don Bauder Aug. 24, 2014 @ 7:09 p.m.

Murphyjunk: The best things we can do are stop polluting the atmosphere and stop wasting water. Best, Don Bauder

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shirleyberan Aug. 24, 2014 @ 10:56 a.m.

A lot of articles out there say depletion does increase the risk at the fault for earthquake. Makes sense to me. San Fran seems worried.

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Founder Aug. 24, 2014 @ 2:36 p.m.

Sub-surface Water acts like a lubricant to fault zones, and if there are not many small slips (no pun intended) then there will be larger potentially more destructive ones because the Earths crust is constantly shifting...

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danfogel Aug. 24, 2014 @ 9:44 p.m.

founder/captd' I've read many studies on the hydrogeologic responses to earthquakes and subsurface geology and geophysics, but I haven't hears of any characterizing the effects of sub-surface Water to fault zones. Do you have links to any? I would be quite interested in what they have to say. I guess you're "technically correct that the earth's crust is shifting. Modern plate tectonic theory states that the surface crust of the Earth is composed of many independent segments called plates and that these plates have the ability to move horizontally by gliding over the plastic asthenosphere ( the upper mantle just below the lithosphere). In some cases, the plates can collide with each other at the plate boundaries causing subduction and the production of earthquakes, volcanoes, mountain building, and oceanic trenches. At other plate boundaries, the plates can move away from each other because of sea-floor spreading or horizontally move past one another creating faults and earthquakes.

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Don Bauder Aug. 25, 2014 @ 6:16 a.m.

Founder: I am just going on what Scripps said -- or what I thought it said. Best, Don Bauder

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danfogel Aug. 26, 2014 @ 8:57 a.m.

founder/captd BTW, I neglected to include something in my initial reply. These researchers also say that shrinking groundwater levels, the subsurface water you refer to, are not a cause for alarm in terms of increasing earthquakes along the San Andreas. They said the difference in pressure on the fault due to shrinking groundwater levels over the last two years was very small compared with the seismic forces. An older study said it does make a difference and the most recent says it doesn't. Since they both can't be right, who ya gonna believe???

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Don Bauder Aug. 26, 2014 @ 7:26 p.m.

danfogel: The Scripps study said that the departure of groundwater and the rising of the earth's surface in the West does not increase earthquake risk. Best, Don Bauder

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danfogel Aug. 27, 2014 @ 11:23 a.m.

Uh, yeah, That's what I said: "They said the difference in pressure on the fault due to shrinking groundwater levels over the last two years was very small compared with the seismic forces."

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Don Bauder Aug. 29, 2014 @ 9:36 a.m.

danfogel: You did not argue with the Scripps conclusion. Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder Aug. 24, 2014 @ 7:10 p.m.

shirleyberan: If San Francisco was worried before, it will be more worried post-Napa. Best, Don Bauder

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Founder Aug. 24, 2014 @ 2:32 p.m.

Here is my short and long term solution to all of CA's water problems:

No more Residential or Commercial construction in CA until we have developed at least 15% more new drinking water from desalinization of Ocean water, along with the understanding that we will continue to add at least 5% per year until we do not have to import any more potable water to supply all of CA's needs.

What is good for those living in California is one thing but this will force all the BIG money groups to demand that ocean desalinization be installed ASAP, because as we all know, our Elected Leaders always do what is best for their biggest donors.

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Don Bauder Aug. 24, 2014 @ 7:12 p.m.

Founder: I agree with a moratorium on construction. And I am all for desal. Best, Don Bauder

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danfogel Aug. 25, 2014 @ 10:10 a.m.

founder/captd your short and long term solutions remind me of an Aerosmith song!

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Visduh Aug. 24, 2014 @ 5:53 p.m.

While all that water is missing from the area west of the Rockies, it hasn't escaped from Earth. It is somewhere else now. One area that has had "too much" water in recent years is the plains states and Canadian provinces of the upper mid-west. Remember the flooding in North Dakota that inundated Grand Forks? The plains area, maybe the greatest wheat-growing region in the world, turned out a record crop last year and looks for a crop just as big this year. The corn growing regions in the US mid-west will have a huge harvest this year. Last winter in the upper US was long, cold, and snowy, setting records. All of the foregoing means they are getting ample moisture, and have been getting it for many years.

This doesn't take away from our far West shortage of water, misuse of the limited supply we have, and implications for the future. A few wet years will not end this crisis; at best they would kick the can down the road. But we can't even count on a few normal years now.

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Don Bauder Aug. 24, 2014 @ 7:14 p.m.

Visduh: We face the possibility that the U.S. West already has far too much population, given potential long-term water problems. Best, Don Bauder

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ImJustABill Aug. 25, 2014 @ 9:53 p.m.

According to climate change models the new normal for Southern CA will be drier than the old normal. So chances are we're not going to get a general increase in rain as time goes on and the climate shifts. Certainly odds are we will get a lot more this year than last year.

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Don Bauder Aug. 26, 2014 @ 7:29 p.m.

ImJustABill: Some scientists say the 20th century was aberrationally wet. Yet the models we currently follow are based on 20th century experience. Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder Aug. 25, 2014 @ 6:21 a.m.

danfogel: That is a good article. We have a lot to learn in this area. Best, Don Bauder

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Ponzi Aug. 24, 2014 @ 11:39 p.m.

The problem is distinct in two categories. Grass... hay (alfalfa) that uses 50% of the agricultural water used that is shipped to China to feed their growing cattle industry. And the rest is wasted on the lawns and golf courses of Southern California. That "curb-side appeal" of homes with a big green lawn is fashionable but is wasteful. The problem also is that the people who are already living here do not see a reason to conserve when their bills continue to climb and development continues to go unabated. It's rather a Catch 22, if we conserve, they allow more development and our bills go up a little, if we do not conserve they continue development and out bills go up much more. The climate is changing and it's getting more arid in San Diego and our water supply is at emergency levels yet we continue to allow development because we "need affordable" housing for the low paid service and hospitality workers that serve the tourism industry. Then we have a mayor, who is not very bright, insist a living wage (raising the minimum wage) is worthy of his veto. This cities populace is going to need to apply some critical thinking and quit buying into the Manchester lies, propaganda and double-speak to blindly vote in puppets like Kevin Faulconer, an ignorant and establishment-controlled tool.

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Don Bauder Aug. 25, 2014 @ 6:29 a.m.

Ponzi; Very well stated. It makes no sense to go on developing in a huge water shortage. Development is NOT to produce more affordable housing. It is to line the pockets of developers who in turn line the pockets of politicians, including the mayor who is a little slow on the learning curve and in the pocket of the downtown boosters.

The establishment and Manchester put a subsidized football stadium and convention center expansion ahead of bringing infrastructure up to date and providing long-neglected basic services. It is insanity. Best, Don Bauder

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Ponzi Aug. 25, 2014 @ 11:47 p.m.

Don, I know that Manchester is too cheap to get his own Russian bride, so he settles for sloppy seconds... but you would think when he is anointing his own personal mayor puppet he would pick someone with an IQ higher than the temperature of the San Diego Bay. Just saying. For a dude with so much money, Manchester sure low-balls his acquisitions. Oh, but then again, I guess that's why he's rich. He's such a tightwad.

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Don Bauder Aug. 26, 2014 @ 6:25 a.m.

Ponzi: What Manchester has done to the U-T tells the story. Best, Don Bauder

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danfogel Aug. 25, 2014 @ 10:29 a.m.

The rise of the Sierra Nevada and Coast Mountain Ranges is not all that unusual. In fact, according to what I have read, it's a fairly regular phenomenon and is fairly constant. The winter rains and summer groundwater pumping in California's Central Valley causes the mountains to sink and rise by a few millimeters each year. "Gradual depletion of the Central Valley aquifer, because of groundwater pumping, also raises these mountain ranges by a similar amount each year—about the thickness of a dime—with a cumulative rise over the past 150 years of up to 15 centimeters (6 inches), according to calculations by a team of geophysicists." "The height of the adjacent central Coast Ranges and the Sierra Nevada is strongly seasonal and peaks during the dry late summer and autumn." So apparently, this process has been going on for a while.

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Don Bauder Aug. 26, 2014 @ 6:26 a.m.

danfogel: That is quite interesting. Best, Don Bauder

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shirleyberan Aug. 25, 2014 @ 12:37 p.m.

Don't be afraid to say global warming, it does exist. Some natural changes happen but I believe the theory of stupid human.

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Don Bauder Aug. 26, 2014 @ 6:27 a.m.

shirleyberan: Yes, global warming does exist, much as some would like it to go away. Best, Don Bauder

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Founder Aug. 25, 2014 @ 4 p.m.

Instead of the XL pipeline, we should be building large water pipelines coast to coast so that excessive water in one area could then be shifted to where it is most needed.

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danfogel Aug. 25, 2014 @ 5:14 p.m.

founder/captd That subject was already brought up, by you as it were, on this thread.: http://www.sandiegoreader.com/news/2014/jul/15/ticker-water-hogs-lament/#c174132
As I recall,at that time, you never responded to my comment reqarding such a proposition, despite Don Bauder's strong belief that you would. Perhaps you will reply now???

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Don Bauder Aug. 26, 2014 @ 6:28 a.m.

Founder: Water before oil, I say. That is one reason that I oppose fracking. Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder Aug. 26, 2014 @ 9:55 a.m.

John Thurston and Panos Lambrou: As I read it, Scripps is not arguing your point. It is talking about groundwater. That doesn't mean there is not water in other forms. Best, Don Bauder

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