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No water problem — it's a no-water problem

Survey says San Diegans are more aware of it than last year

The implications of California's mega-drought seem to finally be setting in.

A study released Wednesday (June 3) by the Public Policy Institute of California indicates more than twice as many residents (36 percent in San Diego) see the drought as the biggest problem facing the state as compared to the regional jobs outlook, the second-highest worry mentioned in a 1706-person survey.

The numbers flipped from a year ago, when a third of respondents said the economy was their biggest worry, as compared to only 12 percent who mentioned the lack of rainfall.

San Diegans are more critical of their neighbors when it comes to conservation as compared to the rest of the state. Just 29 percent of local respondents said regional residents are doing enough to conserve water, as compared to 65 percent who say their communities aren't doing enough to cope with water shortages.

The issue is likely to remain a contentious one, particularly as large and controversial developments such as One Paseo in Carmel Valley aim to add residents to an area whose finite water supply continues to shrink.

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The implications of California's mega-drought seem to finally be setting in.

A study released Wednesday (June 3) by the Public Policy Institute of California indicates more than twice as many residents (36 percent in San Diego) see the drought as the biggest problem facing the state as compared to the regional jobs outlook, the second-highest worry mentioned in a 1706-person survey.

The numbers flipped from a year ago, when a third of respondents said the economy was their biggest worry, as compared to only 12 percent who mentioned the lack of rainfall.

San Diegans are more critical of their neighbors when it comes to conservation as compared to the rest of the state. Just 29 percent of local respondents said regional residents are doing enough to conserve water, as compared to 65 percent who say their communities aren't doing enough to cope with water shortages.

The issue is likely to remain a contentious one, particularly as large and controversial developments such as One Paseo in Carmel Valley aim to add residents to an area whose finite water supply continues to shrink.

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Comments
57

Bravo!

However, there is a reality behind the money-driven media blitz that has created the public opinion. It's "Mad, Mad, Mad Ave." A PR campaign.

Trouble is, it is hypocritical. The water shortage is real--perhaps more real than the PR-driven public policy would lead you to believe, bee-leeeve, BELIEVE! "Ignorance in action," as Goethe once put it ("I abhor ignorance in action.")

This article, beautifully brief in its coherence, should be above the fold in every newspaper in the state. It opens the possibility that a give-away rag can be taken seriously (and, at long last, actually deserve to be). Make money at a time when the majors are in deep decline, AND tell the truth at the same time.

So let's get a few details straight.

Drought is a weather phenomenon.

Water shortages are a consumption phenomenon.

It is not "rocket science." Spend more money than you have in your bank account, and you get bad-check charges. You can go to jail.

"Use" more water than the water-delivery system has in its reservoirs, and you will have to move to a place that has no water shortage (thus creating a water-shortage there?). As a result, the economy will collapse. Won't it be ironic when Oklahoma has to turn back refugees from the California Dust Bowl as California did to the "Okies" in the 1930's?

A human can't survive for more than three days on no water, and the state of California needs almost a gallon per day per person to maintain good health, much less take showers, flush toilets, wash, and irrigate. That's almost a half a billion gallons a year (rounded up for basic dental hygiene). No agriculture. No horticulture.

It's too, too horrible to contemplate, so the solution is to not contemplate it. (A quick search of the Internet reveals a paltry 41,200,00 uses of the word contemplate.)

That wouldn't be so bad, but the "powers that be" and their political and bureaucratic lackeys have "arrived" at a set of "water-conservation" policies that are simply hilarious to anyone with an ounce of sense for the truth and any ability to project.

First, they won't tell us how much water is left in the system. (I've tried; they won't even answer.) They won't tell us how much water is used by government to irrigate public facilities, such as freeway landscaping. My 1957 letter to the California Division of Highways (now CALTRANS) on this subject also went unanswered, so it's nothing new.

June 4, 2015

RE: "I've tried; they won't even answer." 1. WHO specifically did you ask? What city or what agency, etc.? 2. Did you state that your request is per the California Public Records Act? They MUST answer (under CA law) if you do that.

June 4, 2015

I'm not much of an arm-twister, and by declining to answer, they are speaking more loudly than they could in any reply.

June 4, 2015

You didn't answer either question. Who is the "they" you refer to? And did you specify CPRA in your requests?

June 5, 2015

Go get 'em! I ain't got the talent obfeosly!

June 5, 2015

I thinks that's "whom."

June 5, 2015

. . . continued . . .

They want all of us to cut our consumption by "x" percent, regardless of how little water we have used for years. (This relatively rewards water-wasters and severely penalizes water-conservers. How bloody backwards is that?)

They will fine us severely if we are caught watering on the wrong day. (What does that have to do with water conservation?)

They want us to set our sprinklers to run for no more than five minutes, for a maximum of two times a week. (They apparently do not understand the dynamics of plant-soil-water relations. Short-periods of irrigation make sense to minimize runoff, but if only two five-minute irrigations per week are used on alternate days, most of it will evaporate rather than penetrate. And penetration will be very shallow, meaning that more evaporation can take place and root development will be shallow, requiring more frequent irrigation to maintain the illusion of healthy grass/plants. I will stop here, because going more deeply into this will take up too much space and be a bit "technical.")

They don't want me to wash off my "hardscape" with a high-pressure, low gpm hose nozzle into the adjacent soil, and they want my neighbors to turn me in if they catch me in the act. (They would prefer that I use a pollution-spewing, dust-raising, germ-spreading blowing machine to get the caked-on dirt off my driveway and patio.)

These are only a few examples, but you get my drift . . .

They are creating monstrous busybodies out of well-meaning, responsible friends and neighbors instead of asking the only question that matters but the lackeys don't want us to ask, "How much water do you use compared to how much water I use?"

June 4, 2015

Our City Council is promoting Build MORE, so even if all residents save water we will continue to be "a water shortage" which means that Potable water will become the new Oil.

I think everyone should use MORE WATER not less, because it will force our elected Leaders to act instead of just tell us to reduce our usage which only makes Big Water more profits.

Some suggestions: 1. Nobody should vote for any elected Leader that does not immediately support massive desalinization projects either along CA's coast line and/or slightly offshore. The price of water is nowhere near the price of gasoline and/or diesel so the solution is not conservation but increasing the supply, especially since so many in CA already get all the free water they want because of early contracts; which allows them to sell "their"water. 2. To increase the pressure on elected Leaders, we should immediately put a moratorium on all new construction in CA., that will speed the process up of providing more potable water, since Big Contractors want to continue to Build, Build, Build. 3. We should demand that all water carrying canals be covered with solar panels to both generate electricity (that will be sold to reduce the cost of water for state users) and prevent excessive evaporation which is excessive especially in the desert parts of CA. 4. Consumption should not be limited unless each person is allotted the same amount of water, to be used as they wish, so that those with huge homes cannot use more than anyone else.

June 4, 2015

Obviously such a moratorium will not be done. It's not an acceptable or sensible plan. We have a shortage of housing; that's why homes are so expensive. Also, the canals will NOT be covered with solar panels (unless you personally put up the $millions to do it).

June 4, 2015

dwbat That would be billions with a capital B.

June 4, 2015

You are so right. And I'm not sure if CaptD has $billions. Maybe Bill Gates will pay for it!

June 4, 2015

captd/founder Your item number 3 has been talked about since at least 2011, from what I remember. The problem is cost. It would take about 35K to 40 K panels per mile. That's over 1.5 million panels just to cover the open portions of the California Aqueduct. Then you still need the support structure for the panels and everything else needed to complete the installation, including labor costs. And that doesn't even address the infrastructure issue such as substations and power lines and towers, construction of service roads, purchasing of rights of way when necessary and probably a whole bunch of other stuff I haven't thought of. Then of course, you still have to be able to have access to the canals for maintenance. Any kind of water conveyance will have sediment accumulating in it that has to be removed periodically, as well as large obstructions every once in a while that also have to be taken out. The concrete has a long design life, but it has to be repaired sometimes, especially in seismically active areas. Then of course the panels have to be maintained. Can you imagine the amount of dirt that would collect on them. And of course, there is the replacement of the panels in probable less than the usual 20-25 yrs due to the harsh environment. I'm sure that you get the idea. It ain't as easy as just having a few panels put on your roof, something you haven't done.

June 4, 2015

Thank-you Twister. I hate media created histeria too. I pay the same water bill amount every month whether I use it or not, a drop in the bucket comparatively.

June 4, 2015

CaptD - How are they going to desalinate and degrease it?

June 4, 2015

It's done via desalination plants, like the one being built in Carlsbad. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carlsbad_desalination_plant

June 4, 2015

The dirtier the water, the greater the cost and the lower the production.

June 4, 2015

I tend to agree with all, but I suspect that there are a number of problems with desalination, such as:

  1. Cost

  2. Financing. In order for the profits to be high enough for investors in Big Water to reap tremendous profits, the price will have to be much, much higher than the total costs. This means taxes, taxes, taxes--largely from the 99%, I suspect. After all, "It's a helluva lot easier to find fifty million suckers with a buck than one sucker with fifty million. Water rates will be much, much higher, and public/private corporations, water districts, and other "authorities" having absolute authority with zero oversight will find millions of tiny cuts into our flesh from which to extract subsidies so's we hardly notice.

  3. Alteration of the littoral environment.

Just to name a few . . . Others?

"Whisky's for drinkin.' Water's for fightin' . . . " --Mark Twain

June 4, 2015

Maybe they should use desalination to clean up the oil spills. Still can't clean up what's coming here in waves from Japan.

June 4, 2015

Desalination is not used for oil spills.

June 4, 2015

For every surface acre in the Central Valley, the annual water loss is at least three feet, or more than 130,000 acre-feet, or close to a million gallons per year. I don't know how much of that loss would be recovered by covering canals, but it would be significant. I presume the geniuses at some Water Authority have calculated the net cost/benefit, but try and find out. Some kid in primary arithmetic could win a Noble Prize for figuring it out. I will send $100 via the Reader to the first grammar-school kid that figures it out and shows her or his work and sources and publishes it in the Reader.

The ancient Persians knew this principle. They had underground reservoirs and canals, and even passive air-conditioning.

June 4, 2015

Wikipedia says: "Persia was a cradle of science in earlier times, contributing to medicine, mathematics, science, and philosophy." They were brilliant scientists and engineers back then (and still are). What a shame that our two countries have to be enemies. Hopefully that will change one day (as it did with Japan, Germany, etc.).

June 4, 2015

I don't know about such a study o cover he canals in California. However, there was a cost estimate run on covering the canals that make up the CAP in Arizona. The average size of the aqueduct is 80 feet across the top and 24 feet across the bottom and the water is 16.5 feet deep. The Bureau of Reclamation made the study and estimated the cost to be prohibitive. Covering the canal would have quadrupled the project's original cost to nearly $16 billion for 385 miles. I believe that the California Aqueduct has about 400 mile of open canals, so that would give a baseline to start from on the cost.

June 4, 2015

Danfogel - I think we may have talked about this before but I still say that if Solar panels were fitted above the canals, they would help pay for themselves and also help save water evaporation. One problem is that water is very inexpensive, so all losses tend to be "business as usual", when in fact they all add up, especially over time.

June 4, 2015

captd/founder do this calculation. 40k 300 watt panels @ $.75 per watt. That's the cost of JUST the panels to cover 1 mile of canal. Now multiply that by the 444 miles for just the California Aqueduct. Now at least triple, and more likely quadruple that amount and you get an estimate of covering ONLY the California Aqueduct. You can do the math. How long do you think it would take to generate enough electricity to cover that much expense?

June 4, 2015

A thousand years?

June 4, 2015

Some canals are apparently (Google Map measurement) more than 200 feet across and some are more than 100 feet. The average annual water loss to evaporation alone is over 4.5 feet in the Central Valley. But let's stick to the 80-foot average until/if we learn different and figure the water savings for a mile of 80 foot canal. That's about 43.6+ acre-feet per year, or over three million gallons per year, per mile of 80-foot wide canal. 400 miles would be around one billion, two hundred, sixty-four million gallons.

Not that this paltry amount would offset the huge cost of covering the canals, but that value would have to be included in any cost:benefit study. Further, I suspect that the CIMIS values might be conservative due to the difference between the real world of the canals and the measurement methodology. The real evaporation loss might be as much as double or more . . .

June 5, 2015

Hard to fathom more plunderlust favoring the rich but we have it. By the way, since sharks have been on the protected list thery're back to summer school and warm water close to shore now that food is scarce. Enjoy the beach.

June 4, 2015

shirleyberan your chances of getting killed by lightning are 30 times greater than being attacked by a shark and on average more people are killed each year when they knock over a vending machine to get a stuck soda or bag of snacks than by shark attacks. I will enjoy the beach this summer.

June 4, 2015

And more likely to get killed in a car crash or from falling down in the bathroom than from a shark attack. I think too many people are watching those "Sharknado" movies.

June 4, 2015

More on BIG Water: Holy Crop: How Federal Dollars Have Made America’s Drought Crisis Worse How federal dollars are financing the water crisis in the West. https://projects.propublica.org/killing-the-colorado/story/arizona-cotton-drought-crisis

June 4, 2015

Semi-arid areas in the Southwest cannot suport existing populations. Deep wells have already tapped into fossil water. Central and Southern California needs the water. Northern California, not so much.

Agriculture uses and Western water law complicate the picture. It is complicated from a legal standpoint. There will be realocation through eminent domain proceedings to pay just compensation for the "taking." Courts are interpreting the water rights under a reasonableness standard. The legislature is changing laws where possible.

The problems in agricultural subsidies in Arizona and California will need to ve reevaluated. Meanwhile, climate change will make droughts deeper, longer, and more frequent. I accept Stanford and NASA and Scripps Institute of Oceanography climate scientists' conclusions. It will get worse around San Diego.

June 4, 2015

Diogenes - I agree and it will really get worse if Big Water has anything to do with it since they will promote what is best for themselves instead of what is best for everyone, which is why we are in the "fix" we are now in, since Big Water and Big Ag. are already CASHING IN, while getting their Politicians to limit water use by residential home owners "who waste too much".

I'd support have different water use allowances for anyone moving to CA than those that have been living here already, which would help maintain the quality of life for all those that have helped CA become the great state is was. Otherwise look to Big Water to dig the deepest wells and then start to raise prices for "their" water, which is already being done in India and other places since BIG Water and BIG Corp.s can dig the deepest wells.

June 4, 2015

captd/founder Exactly who is this "Big Water" that you keep referring to?

June 4, 2015

I was wondering that myself. And I'm not sure what "Big Contractors" he's talking about.

June 4, 2015

If we're going to solve the water-supply issue here (and why not?), we're going to have to get good, verifiable information--indisputable information, in fact. For that, we'll have to depend upon the word and honor of others who collect, maintain, and analyze real, solid data. Because such data are inherently "squishy," we'll have to deal with estimated ranges, not single, firm figures. But we will have to evaluate the bases upon which those data are derived. We will have to rely on "best-case" and "worst-case" ranges, somewhere between which lies the truth. Picking the true "worst-case" (upper range or lower range, depending upon the kind of measurement involved) numbers for planning purposes; that gives us a safe, conservative fudge-factor, yet not an exaggerated one.

Guesses, presumptions, and unverified, un-evaluated numbers have no place in any serious consideration of the issue. It's time to "get real." DISCIPLINED thinking.

Alright, ready, set, go--give it your best shot. Take a shot at this for a start, and modify it as necessary, then proceed to a plan through the same process, allocating the work according to the time and talents available so that no one person has to make undue sacrifices. If the authorities will be forthcoming with solid stuff, it might be as easy as asking for it, but I wouldn't count on it. So let's all send some emails to the authorities (let's make a list and post links and other contact information) and move this blog from gossip to professional. It should be a very satisfying ride, and we might just save the state from collapse.

Are we together on this?

June 4, 2015

You can start by providing the list of "authorities" you are talking about. And, once again, when one requests information that has not been forthcoming, specify the CPRA (California Public Record Act) in your request. P.S. It's basis (not "bases"). ;-)

June 5, 2015

dwbat, I'm suggesting a team effort, using the best talent available; since you are the most knowledgeable about how to get information out of the relevant authorities, I nominate you for the job.

bases = the plural of basis.

June 5, 2015

I'll pass on accepting the nomination, but thanks for the offer. It's easy to ask someone ELSE to do the grunt work. Why don't YOU do it? Plus I don't do water stories.

June 5, 2015

I suggested a TEAM effort, with VOLUNTEERS. I've lost count of the inquires I've made. Have you kept track of yours? Can I hold you to that "don't do water stories" promise? It's not "grunt" work, it just takes a lot of time, and time is of the essence. You're always welcome on the team.

June 5, 2015

All this is way above my pay grade. All I know is the less I use the more I pay.

June 5, 2015

California is making efforts to solve its water shortage. The existing legal and administrative structure is a restraint upon the ability of the state to provide long-term relief.

You are correct in assuming that there is vast complexity in these serious structural impediments. The state lacks a rational regulatory scheme for groundwater, despite recent legislative action; water rights allocations far exceed the state's mean annual runoff; water rights law reflects late 19th century visions of societal needs, rather than a regime designed to allocate a limited supply of water in an arid region experiencing rapid growth, and on which more recent judicial decisions have overlaid additional requirements addressing beneficial use and environmental concerns.

Water conservation, recycling, use of improved agricultural irrigation methods, further curtailment of urban use, groundwater storage and regulation and storage, and facilitation of water marketing are all needed responses...... but they are yet to be implimented on the requisite scale.

Water Rights - surface water - groundwater - the 1928 Constitutional Amendment......Protection of the Environment - the Public Trust Doctrine - the Delta curtailment of tbe Exercise of Water Rghts - "Reasonable use - Can Water Rights be Recorded or Curtailed without an Unconstitutional."taking?"

See? Very simple soulutions than any blogger should have very strong opinions on without any study of the problem. Just like cable news - you must have an opinion just like the talking heads we so often see.

I am currently studying this myself.

June 5, 2015

Watching the movie "Chinatown" offers some insight, too. For those who never saw it, it's actually about water rights.

June 5, 2015

Well stated. Since we have you, perhaps we don't need a team. But should you wish to direct others to accelerate the process, you could post requests for assistance here. It the team approach doesn't work here, maybe we should move it on over to Bauder's blog, which has a running start on peppering opinion with facts and logic. A kind of self-filtering process.

I have held out hope that the "blogosphere" would one day sort itself out on the basis of quality, but unfortunately, some of the "highest" forms still devolve into presumptuous popoffery whilst eschewing facts and logic.

June 5, 2015

Oh, I forgot to ask. Just what IS California doing to "solve" its water crisis?

June 5, 2015

Cutting back on usage for starters. Doing away with lawns. If people switched to newer toilets, that would save a lot of water right there. Don't run the dishwasher until it's full. Don't run the faucet while shaving.

June 5, 2015

California would never today adopt the legal scheme that has evolved historically. It is unfair, irrational, and dysfunctional. It is wasteful and lacks flexibility.

It will take 20 years or more to "fix" these problems. There are too many vested rights from past centuries. The state will have to pay off holders of these rights to free the rest of us. I would simply nationalize some of these resources. I would redistribute water rights. Right wingers want to own resources. So there you have it; it is a political problem.

June 5, 2015

True, but we do not do these thinks because they are easy; we do them because they are hard (Thanks to John F. Kennedy or his speechwriter.)

Yes, it is a political problem, and will probably require legislation to fix. Good legislation won't get passed the first time, and it may take a long time and too much compromise to fix. But context is everything, and context is in a constant state of flux. However, the chickens are coming home to roost very fast, and an earth-shaking shift in context (public opinion, etc.) may be great enough to accelerate the process.

True, but we do not do these thinks because they are easy; we do them because they are hard (Thanks to John F. Kennedy or his speechwriter.)

Yes, it is a political problem, and will probably require legislation to fix. Good legislation won't get passed the first time, and it may take a long time and too much compromise to fix. But context is everything, and context is in a constant state of flux. However, the chickens are coming home to roost very fast, and an earth-shaking shift in context (public opinion, etc.) may be great enough to accelerate the process.

Still, “chance favors a prepared mind” (Pasteur) and there’s a lot of preparation to do.

June 5, 2015

*things" (not "thinks").

June 5, 2015

Hey, I tink youse is right--unless it wuz a pun. Eggscept in Brooklyn. Anyway, tanks f' the edit!

June 5, 2015

And since Washington is bought and paid for by wealthy big business, the rest of us will always suffer for it.

June 5, 2015

RE: " dwbat June 5, 2015 @ 4:20 p.m.

Cutting back on usage for starters. Doing away with lawns. If people switched to newer toilets, that would save a lot of water right there. Don't run the dishwasher until it's full. Don't run the faucet while shaving. "

Maybe doing away with all irrigated landscaping? How about switching to composting toilets? How about prohibiting diswashers? How about not shaving?

Which would conserve the most, drying up the biggest water users like California Bank and Trust's huge ornamental lawn at 32.873029, -117.213672 on the Google map, or the little lawns that kids play on?

What if everybody was allowed only as much as they actually need, based on the size of their property and their location on the CIMIS ECo map at http://wwwcimis.water.ca.gov/App_Themes/images/etozonemap.jpg ?

June 5, 2015

Twister - dwbat spends too much time on anybody else's spelling corrections. (See Don Bauder articles where he must be right.)

June 5, 2015

Self righteousness doesn't help us in the comment section.

June 5, 2015

Aye, lassie, 'tis true--but common.

June 5, 2015

San Diego gets 90% of its water from out of the county. Increasing its population by two million will severely exacerbate the situation.

Those on the East Coast want to move here even more to avoid ever more harsh winters as disrupted jet streams dip further south bring frigid temperatures, even as Arctic ice melts.

California's climate is disrupted by a high pressure zone that prevents deep deposits of snow on the mountains. It is that snow pack that slowly melts throughout the Spring and Summer that supplies the reservoirs. This system is broken.

Climate change makes droughts in California more frequent, deeper, and longer.

Our legal system does a poor job of water allocation. This problem is beyond this blog. Tighter water supplies will drive reform.

Our politicians are bozos run primarily by campaign contributions and to a lesser degree, affiliation with one of two political parties. Central and Southern California have shortages; Northern California, not so much.

The hope that snow-packed mountains will suddenly reappear, and that ancient wells will have bountiful replenishment as water tables suddenly rise to support unlimited population growth, is probably nothing more than a pipe dream. It is much more likely that our climate will revert to a historic norm of semi-arid desert - but one without snow-packed mountains, as Spring will arrive too early each year. The mountain water will run off prematurely as snow packs will melt in early Spring.

The age of drilling deeper each year to satisfy the needs of agriculture is quickly vanishing.

The science predicts disaster for increasing population unless agriculture is diminished. Canada can grow the food. San Diego can house an aging population of people with a lot of money. No lawns, no golf courses, no swimming pools, expensive water, more reclaimed water in urban areas, native drought-tolerant plants....

Livestock and dairy consume huge amounts of water. Becoming a vegan reduces climate change and conserves water both.

We must change our lifestyles drastically.

June 6, 2015

All true, but don't count on any timely reforms--hope springs (pun intended) eternally, if water doesn't. And, the recharge rate is largely irrelevant for deep water. You can drill deeper than there is water already. (pun intended--with so much irony, they can't be avoided. Oy vay!)

June 10, 2015

So True 'Dat Diogenes.

June 6, 2015

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