OK, so drilling a well for water has put water on high alert for me. I see “alerts” everywhere. Of course, it’s in the news because 98% of California is in a “exceptional drought condition” alert.
But this takes the cake. Really.
It takes some doing…. promising 5 times more water to people, than is even there, in a normal rain year. That’s what the latest California water assessment just published, showed:
“For 100 years, California’s State Water Resources Control Board and its predecessors have been responsible for allocating available water supplies…
Here, we present the first comprehensive evaluation of appropriative water rights to identify where, and to what extent, water has been dedicated to human uses relative to natural supplies.
The results show that water right allocations total…
- approximately five times the state’s mean annual runoff.
- In the state’s major river basins, water rights account for up to 1000% of natural surface water supplies…”
Researchers from UC DAVIS & MERCED, released the results of their in-depth study, and it is truly mind-boggling what the actual details reveal. These researchers present us with the reality of what the results of past management has been. Read Abstract~whole article
We already know that the allocations were made on unrealistic expectations due to heavier-than-normal rainfall, for the last century (according to tree ring & other research going back hundred/thousands of years).
But still, FIVE TIMES the usual rainfall, in this century? Talk about creating a no-win situation.
TEN TIMES the surface water (rivers, lakes, streams)???
If we don’t get serious now… hey, literally, that bottle of water WILL be the new gold. You can’t eat or drink gold so it’s value will trade places with how we value water these days.
CADILLAC DESERT: American West & It’s Disappearing Water 1986
The UC Study illustrates the hard outcomes of past decisions, that we are facing in our current era.
If you haven’t read it, and use water in any form (clean, dirty, ice, irrigation, food, drink), in my opinion you should be required to read it for a better understanding of something, we in the ‘developed world’ take for granted, and should not.
I say that, not because, I want to be judgmental but because you truly do need to know what your future reality is going to be based on. It’s useful to know how we got there. The ‘human factors’ that we need to confront because as human beings we need to recognize our “flaws” and find a work around, or they will become our fatal flaws.
The book is a fascinating read. The promo reads, “It explores the triumph and disaster, heroism and intrigue, and the rivalries and bedfellows that dominate this significant chapter of American history. At the very least, this book should be required reading for every high school student in the Western United States.” and its true.
It is a key to understanding how these states obtained the water that transformed them from deserts to oases and encouraged multitudes to move westward. Even though it was written many years ago, it is a timely reminder that western water resources are not limitless. By reviewing what was done in the past perhaps we can learn how to better utilize this precious resource in the future, especially now as the Western States are experiencing extreme drought. With the forecast reading, “more of the same” don’t you think that would be the smart way to handle it?
We need to seriously reorder how we use the water we do have. Here are two interesting charts:
(click on any picture to get a larger version, that is more readable)
If it takes more than double the amount of water to produce grapes, than most of our other fruits, is this a wise use of 98% of our farmland in Sonoma County?
I think it is time to start making some rational decisions of how we use our resources. Perhaps we need to give tax breaks to those who produce useful lower water consumption crops?
Or look at this chart: To be honest, I had no idea of these numbers, and I hate to look closer. What adaptations do we need to start thinking about?
Western WATERSHEDS ~
this is one of the most stunningly beautiful maps I have seen, and the information shared in it is priceless. I couldn’t believe this was done in the 1880’s. It shows where the water that falls, drains to, naturally.
Perhaps it is time to implement the suggestions made along with this map, after the first assessments were made of the western watersheds (a recommendation sidelined in pursuit of other interests).
California’s use 170 gal/day/per person on average. But that number dramatically varies depending of industry (farming takes more); wealth (large lawns, landscaping, no money worries), and climate (cooler coastal regions don’t use as much water.
Each watershed area should manage water allotments for the water they actually receive (i.e. not amounts but a percentage basis). Instead of 1 million gallons you get 1% of whatever falls, the previous year. Period. You can choose to store it to even out the years but you can’t be guaranteed more than what is there. Water flows in specific directions; reduce the energy outflow to move it to other areas.
You can’t steal from others (those around you, or the future)! Crying that your ‘need’ is greater than other’s (or will impact more jobs, or the food supply, etc) is just an excuse to try and get someone else to bear the burden. Have we become a nation of “whiners” always wanting someone else to bail us out?
It’s an insane system that is doomed to failure, that is built up on unsustainable promises. We can begin to adjust now, or crash & burn. It is time to back off our current system and begin to deal with the realities. Our current system has encouraged the development of land, businesses, and population growth that can not be sustained. San Diego had enough water for 800,000 people; it now has a population of over 3 million. How do we deal with that reality?
It is the “doomed discussion” ~
not to be talked about!
but it underlies EVERY single problem we face. Population overshoot.
We love our freedom to have as many children as we wish. We love that freedom so much, that we apparently are willing to condemn our children themselves, to a world of starvation.
We no longer have ‘new ecological niches’ to move to, in order to handle our expansion (or to kick other people out of).
Never mind the problem of not enough jobs, their won’t be enough food/water, so that problem will be solved.
My heart weeps.
A PLACE TO START ~ California water fight
It is critically important to educate ourselves as water issues will be a major battle this upcoming year. With a $7.5 Billion Dollar plan on the ballot, we will be hit from all sides, to choose a specific path, from those with vested interests (not necessarily the Main Street Man’s interests). Corporations, who’s only goal is to make money anyway they can, don’t care about the future much, and certainly not about the quality of that future.
A democratic society, i.e. one that makes decisions by vote, need to be educated about what they are doing. Not just swayed by pretty pictures, sad stories, or persuasive rhetoric…. which is in essence, letting someone else do the thinking for us.
Thus we need to decide: aim toward making an educated realistic decision, or will we let someone else present us with a nice illusion, and in the future, we suffer the real consequences. It’s come down to the wire.
Where to start? How to educate yourself fairly easily? In this day & age, it is ridiculously easy. In the Information Age it’s more about sifting through it to find unbiased, realistic information rather than pipe dreams.
I caution you to be aware of “self-delusion bias” or “confirmation bias”:
that tendency we all have to only believe in data or information that supports what we want to believe, and to discard (devalue, explain away) those things we don’t want to believe.
- Don’t take my word for it; start looking at reports (just look at who writes them and consider what their vested interest is)
- Take a look at Cadillac Desert; it has stood the test of time, and research is proving out it’s predictions (check the library, or get a used copy)
- Watch the series on Southwest Water history; Cadillac Desert: Water and the Transformation of Nature is a 1997 American four-part documentary series about water, money, politics, and the transformation of nature, distributed via PBS (unable to locate – see the youtube video clips)
- YOUTUBE Cadillac Desert Click here: Cadillac Desert
Water and the Transformation of Nature (1997): Part 1: Dream, Part 2: An American Nile, Part 3: The Mercy of Nature, Part 4: Last Oasis
- Take a look at the research report just released: accèss to full article Read the full abstract and look through the whole paper.
SEND ME links you think are good to share,
via the comments section, so others can benefit!