Tag Archive | "drought"

Xeriscaping. Low water usage doesn't mean barren or drab.

In drought areas, the big problem is grass – lawns, golf courses, parks

Xeriscaping. Low water usage doesn't mean barren or drab.

Xeriscaping. Low water usage doesn’t mean barren or drab.

In Las Vegas, as well as in other drought areas, lawns and grass use 70% of the water. Grass in semi-arid areas and deserts can no longer be tolerated. There are too many people and not enough water. Xeriscaping creates attractive landscaping in homes and parks and conserves water use. Grass is not needed. Neither are golf courses in deserts. They just aren’t.

The real water hog is not people, many say, but grass: About 70% of Las Vegas water goes to lawns, public parks and golf courses. A rebate program has already ripped out 168 million square feet of grass.

Las Vegas, although it still uses more water per capita than other cities, is becoming a model for water conservation. However, it charges too little for water. Rates, especially for piggish users, need to be expensive enough to be painful.

Interestingly, everyone’s favorite water villain, the Strip with its lavish fountains, uses 3% of the water and produces 70% of the economy. And the fountain water is recycled.

Posted in Water

Credit: wikipedia.org

California Central Valley race to the bottom to drain aquifers

Credit: wikipedia.org

Credit: wikipedia.org

The plight of Central Valley farmers fallowing land and frantically pumping water from wells not knowing when they will go dry is their own damn, greedy fault, says a California water blogger.

I have absolutely no sympathy for this predicament. It could not be more directly or more blatantly self-inflicted. This is the direct result of their own choices, and has been clearly evident to every observer for years. You know, even records and monitoring started in 2009 would be useful now. Fuck ‘em. Let them wonder how much water they have left in their aquifers. They have only themselves to blame for not knowing.

In the 1930’s, the San Gabriel Valley in California faced a similar problem, which they solved by coming together for the good of all, and imposing contraints on themselves. Their system is still working all these decades.

Which way do you want to go, Central Valley? Everyone grabs as much water as they can with no thought for consequences or create a plan that allows everyone to survive and prosper.

So, to summarize: If communities get together and take responsibility for the finite nature of their aquifers, their water can be reliably managed to last. If they don’t they water as long as it lasts and then, I guess, they’re done. Either way. Their choice.

It’s not just Central Valley farmers who made bad choices and paid little attention to the future. Most of California is ill-prepared for the drought. A Israeli company that specializes in water reclamation and delivery says they’ve been in conferences with many states in the US recently. They were astonished at the general US attitude of “we’ll cross that bridge when we get to it” when it comes to water. Cities in Israel are required to have plans and backup sources for water.

Posted in Water

Credit: ceres.org

Fracking uses enormous amounts of water in our driest areas

Credit: ceres.org

Credit: ceres.org

Fracking uses upwards of millions of gallons of water per well in ten of thousands of wells, often in the driest parts of the country. This is deranged. Short-term profits are being allowed to create long-term damage to water supplies and communities. The water used in fracking is mixed with various noxious and dangerous chemicals, poisoning aquifers, as well as depleting water supplies in areas already in drought or experiencing serious water problems.

The Ceres report title says it all, ‘Hydraulic Fracturing and Water Stress: Water Demand By the Numbers’.

Nearly half of the wells hydraulically fractured since 2011 were in regions with high or extremely high water stress and over 55 percent were in areas experiencing drought.

In Colorado and California, 97 and 96 percent of the wells, respectively, were in regions with high or extremely high water stress. In New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming, the majority of wells were in high or extremely high water stress regions. In Texas, which currently has the highest concentration of hydraulic fracturing activity in the U.S., more than half of the wells examined (52 percent) were in high or extremely high water stress regions.

Gosh, that sure sounds sustainable, doesn’t it?

The Ceres report provides a series of recommendations which include recycling of water used during fracking (a practice already becoming more commonplace among drillers); using wastewater or brackish water; disclosing more information, not only on water use from the company perspective, but also on water availability and requirements for the basin as a whole; and tougher regulations governing the use of water in dry regions.

Translation: Drillers have been using drinking water and lots of it for fracking and are now grudgingly using alternatives since the media is watching and there is a threat of more damned gummint regulation.

More from The Guardian, Inside Climate News, and Naked Capitalism.

Posted in Water


Sacramento CA area imposing mandatory water rationing due to drought


December is generally when the rains come in California. Not this year. The drought continues. The Folsom CA reservoir is just 20% full. The city has implemented a mandatory 20% reduction in water use, as has the county for unincorporated areas. Sacramento and Roseville are expected to do the same next week.

This year will probably be the driest in recorded California history. Folsom Lake is so low that contingency plans are in place to provide emergency pumps should the water level drop below the intake pipes. Water is still being released from the dam to provide habitat for salmon and steelhead. However, authorities are considering lowering the amount released. If they do so, water levels in the reservoir will be sufficient until mid-March, assuming no rains come.

The dry weather is caused by a stubborn high-pressure ridge looming over the Gulf of Alaska and stretching across most of the northern Pacific Ocean. It has diverted the normal storm track away from California for months.

The pattern shows no sign of changing.

Posted in Water

Calif Gov Brown wants task force to determine if there’s a drought?

clueless is no excuse

Multiple reservoirs in California are at extremely low levels. This year could be the driest on record. Yet Gov Brown is balking on declaring a drought emergency. Huh?

Groundwater pumping in the agricultural San Joaquin Valley is causing land to sink. Several small reservoirs are nearly dry, at 5% of capacity while major reservoirs are at 40%. The normal December rains have not come. Water allocations for 2014 for agriculture are at 5% or normal. Yet Gov. Moonbeam is still pretending everything is a-ok.

We concur with the reaction of state Sen. Andy Vidak, R-Hanford: “I’m scratching my head on this one — Governor Brown needs a task force to figure out there’s a drought? It’s time for leadership, not a task force.”

Brown needs to get ahead of this quickly to avoid a water emergency. Hoping for winter storms is not a strategy.

Posted in Water

Water wars happen in Connecticut too, not just the West


We’re headed back to California after several days in Connecticut. We talked with a local farmer about water wars. He knew about the Sacramento Delta and the coming mother of all water wars there over California Governor Jerry Brown’s plan to shunt water away from the Delta via two huge tunnels. Connecticut faces nothing like that, he said, but it does have its own water problems. Some outlying towns in the Hartford area that are not part of the reservoir system get much of their water from just a few prolific, deep wells. Attempts have been made to snatch control of some reservoirs away from those who control them now.

Moderate to exceptional drought covers 46.1% of the contiguous United States, an increase from last week’s 44.9%.However, the worst drought categories (extreme to exceptional drought) decreased slightly from 13.8% last week to 13.3%.

As you can see from the Drought Monitor, the eastern half of the country has no drought. But water wars continue to simmer there too.

Posted in Water

New Mexico towns that prepared have fewer drought problems


Some small towns in New Mexico have run out of water, others haven’t, mostly it appears, because they were prepared for drought and had reduced consumption.

But like Sherlock Holmes’ curious case of the dog that did not bark in the night, a key part of the story of the drought of 2013 in rural New Mexico may be the communities that have not been in the news, because they have not run out of water.

With the severity of the current drought, water tables all across New Mexico are dropping. But many communities threatened by drought last time around have upgraded their systems, making them more resilient.

Posted in Water

Remembering the Hohokam in a time of severe California drought

The Hohokam lived in baking deserts in Arizona and built canals by hand. Then the droughts came...

The Hohokam lived in baking deserts in Arizona and built canals by hand. Then the droughts came…

The Fresno Bee considers the severe California drought, especially in the Central Valley, and ponders the fate of the Hohokam.

Drought is a slow killer. But efficient. Give drought a decade and it can permanently drive humans from a region they may have inhabited for centuries. Ask the Hohokam.

The San Joaquin Valley is in a “critically dry” drought year and as each year passes the salinity problem in western Valley agriculture worsens. Although city folks are not yet scrambling for water, Valley farmers are.

Posted in Water

Drought Monitor. Still extreme in some areas


The East – West divide is quite pronounced, isn’t it? Virtually all the West is in drought except for the northern border. The heartland and parts of Texas have been in Exceptional drought for way too long. Worse, water forecasts this year for California snowpack, the Colorado River, and the Rio Grande are way below normal.

Posted in Water

Lake Mead and Lake Powell lowest level since Powell was filled

Credit: inkstain.net/fleck

Credit: inkstain.net/fleck

jfleck brings baleful news about water levels in two crucial lakes, Lake Powell and Lake Mead, that feed into the Colorado.

Ever the journalist in search of gloomy extremes, I just noticed that total storage in Lake Mead and Lake Powell, the two largest reservoirs used to manage flows on the Colorado River, is currently forecast (USBR pdf here) to end the current water year at its lowest level since 1968.

I’ll see your gloom, jfleck, and raise it. California snowpack this year is 17% of normal. No one out-glooms me when it comes to water.

Posted in Water


Morris Consulting


  • Legacy PC database migration to Windows. We convert your dinosaur app to a modern platform.
  • WordPress design and support. Business sites, blogs and ecommerce.
  • Data conversion