Author Topic: Drought emergency declared in California  (Read 50365 times)

Bonnieblue2A

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Drought emergency declared in California
« on: January 17, 2014, 09:58:48 PM »
Gov. Brown declared a drought emergency describing this as potentially the worst drought in Californa's history.

Quote
The declaration comes during one of the driest winters on record in California, following two dry years that already have left many reservoirs depleted. The state is facing "perhaps the worst drought that California has ever seen" since records began, Brown said during the Friday morning announcement.

http://www.nbclosangeles.com/news/local/Governor-Brown-California-Drought-240821841.html

Offline cmxterra

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Re: Drought emergency declared in California
« Reply #1 on: January 17, 2014, 10:00:08 PM »
And I am sure we will see all sorts of press saying how shocked, SHOCKED I say, that this is happening.

Offline mountainmoma

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Re: Drought emergency declared in California
« Reply #2 on: January 17, 2014, 10:21:33 PM »
It is all I can do to get things done, I am hoping my foray next week in to the gloom of portland will shock me out of this shaky pre-depression state. I am trying not to sucumb.

It is pretty freaky, and Im a CA native


Offline OutWestTX

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Re: Drought emergency declared in California
« Reply #3 on: January 19, 2014, 06:54:20 AM »
I thought I read somewhere that Nevada gets their water from California, too.  If that is true, it is going to be affecting more than just California. 

Offline mountainmoma

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Re: Drought emergency declared in California
« Reply #4 on: January 19, 2014, 07:20:45 AM »
It is going to be affecting more than Ca for many reasons.

 I have never heard Nevada gets water from here. But, water rights are interconnected out west, so that a river may have water taken out by more than one state. So, yeah, Ca needing more water will affect other western states water availability-- as well as THEY are also in a drought.

Ca is a very big agricultural state, lots of fruits and veggies and nuts and wine and olive oil all come from california and are sold all over the country. So, food is affected all over too.

Firefighting resources are also shared intrastate, and this is going to be a very constrained resource this year. Ca usually has a rainy season, and we are half way thru it with no water (nov-end of march for the real stuff, although there is some dribbling in april and may). Then, we usually have a fire season, from about july-end of october. We have moved into no end of the fire season this year -- it has just gotten more and more dangerously dry.

Offline OutWestTX

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Re: Drought emergency declared in California
« Reply #5 on: January 19, 2014, 07:46:39 AM »
Thanks for the info, MountainMoma.  So, living in the Land of Perpetual Drought, I mean Texas, we have learned to adapt.  Do you think Californians will change their habits?  Have they enacted water restrictions there?  Does the public seem to understand how dire the situation is? 

Offline RitaRose1945

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Re: Drought emergency declared in California
« Reply #6 on: January 19, 2014, 08:14:49 AM »
I thought I read somewhere that Nevada gets their water from California, too.  If that is true, it is going to be affecting more than just California.

Nope, Southern California gets its water from Nevada.  They actually get more of it than we keep here in Nevada.  It has been an issue for quite some time because we're in a drought as well and we're still shipping most of our water out to California.  That wasn't an issue when we had 50,000 people, but now we're more than 2 million just in the Vegas area where the dam is.  Obviously smaller than SoCal, but not as small as we used to be.

Offline mountainmoma

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Re: Drought emergency declared in California
« Reply #7 on: January 19, 2014, 08:26:40 AM »
I do not understand why you think Califonians havent already been doing these things. Wasteful habits are not more common here than Texas. In between bad droughts, it depends on the household to some degree, but there are legislated restrictions always in force. I guess it seems funny to me that from the outside it looks like we overall waste water ?

But even Silicon valley, which I was driving thru yesterday, I was struck by how dead the landscaping was on the sides of freeways and expressways and in the inexpensive business park area I was at, and brown lawns in the inexpensive housing bordering that area. And, we are not in a outdoor watering banned time -yet- I am sure you can find some green lawns and watered landscapes in another area.

My local town has about the lowest trash output and water useage there is. The citizens, before this year, do not want to build a desalinization water source, that the county officials have been pushing for, and have felt that conservation would be best and sufficient.

The thing is, already being low water usage means that further restrictions will hurt. I remember a few bad ones in my lifetime in this state where toilets werent flushed. Or, my grandmother taking water from her bathtub by buckets to flush toilets and to water a few plants. Never being allowed to water outside in the daytime by law.Nothing but dirt and dead grass in front yards and dirty cars. Everyone is so careful remembering how it was, that alot of this is done by alot of people routinely every year, memories arent that short.

You cant buy anything but very low flow household fixtures and appliances. There are rebates and such to replace old toilets and appliances with these newer models, this has been going on here for years. Basically, a very low flow toilet is free, the rebates are so high. If you are low income, a team will come to your house and replace all the faucet aerators, shower heads and toilet, for free, including labor. Water bills to homes are high, people do not want to waste water too as it is expensive.

Grey water systems are legal under building codes now. You dont ever see sprinklers, people use drip irrigation, alot of people have put in grey water from the house out to the yard.

Agriculture is this way too, at least in this county, water is saved, but lots of plastic used to grow those veggies and berries we export. plastic sheeting on the soil around the strawberries. plastic drip line tubes. plastic hoops over the raspberries.

Maybe what is on TV looks different than the usual Ca home or lifestyle



Offline OutWestTX

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Re: Drought emergency declared in California
« Reply #8 on: January 19, 2014, 08:58:12 AM »
I do not understand why you think Califonians havent already been doing these things. Wasteful habits are not more common here than Texas. In between bad droughts, it depends on the household to some degree, but there are legislated restrictions always in force. I guess it seems funny to me that from the outside it looks like we overall waste water ?


I wasn't trying to insult you.  I was under the impression that this is a new issue in California, that's all. 

Offline RitaRose1945

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Re: Drought emergency declared in California
« Reply #9 on: January 19, 2014, 09:06:51 AM »
I wasn't trying to insult you.  I was under the impression that this is a new issue in California, that's all.

I grew up there, and it was a hot topic even as much as 30 years ago.

If you look at a map of California (well, at least Southern California) the western edge is beach, then a few miles inland is reasonably capable of supporting grass, trees, flowers, etc.  But as you travel east it quickly becomes desert and stays that way until you hit Nevada and Arizona.  If you look at a satellite map, you can see a lot of brown.  Further north, you do have mountains and trees, but in the south they taper off pretty quickly.

We're kind of the same in Vegas.  Very small amounts of grass allowed in the front yard (most houses built now with rock in front and back), drip irrigation the norm, watering only on certain days of the week (by law), low flow shower heads and toilets mandated.

Offline mountainmoma

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Re: Drought emergency declared in California
« Reply #10 on: January 19, 2014, 09:19:57 AM »
Oh, I wasnt insulted at all --

It just is kind of funny because I have always lived here and lack of water has always been an issue. And this is not the first comment, somewhere else on these forums a CA resident, of all people, made a comment that the increase of fires we are going to see in this state arent going to affect him ! So, maybe I was a teeny bit sensitive.

But, it is interesting the perceptions of places are different than what the realities may be.

I was in North Carolina 8 years or so ago and a guy there, who had traveled thru my county not long before, was complaining about it and the rich movie or hollywood people living here !! This is a 9 hour drive or more and more than 500 miles from LA !! In his mind, we are all LA, and all have alot of money, etc... even though he had been here !! So, I do think that the media in general, and movies -- and that is an industry in a small part of this state, and some rich celebrity people do live down there -- give a particular image that is in outside CA people subconconcious. And, maybe thinking we need to think about changing our water habits as a first thought may have come from there, that is what I was thinking. Not about you personally, but how perceptions of a place are out there

Offline OutWestTX

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Re: Drought emergency declared in California
« Reply #11 on: January 19, 2014, 09:33:30 AM »
I was in North Carolina 8 years or so ago and a guy there, who had traveled thru my county not long before, was complaining about it and the rich movie or hollywood people living here !! This is a 9 hour drive or more and more than 500 miles from LA !! In his mind, we are all LA, and all have alot of money, etc... even though he had been here !! So, I do think that the media in general, and movies -- and that is an industry in a small part of this state, and some rich celebrity people do live down there -- give a particular image that is in outside CA people subconconcious.

Funny!  People think that everyone in Texas has a pump jack in their backyard and longhorns out on the front lawn. 

I never realized that water was a long term issue there.  I agree that Americans need to change their mindset about water.  People think because it comes out of a pipe from some mysterious source that it will always be there. 

Offline FreeLancer

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Re: Drought emergency declared in California
« Reply #12 on: January 19, 2014, 10:55:26 PM »
Despite living on the edge of the desert, water is so cheap in my part of SoCal that conservation isn't a major concern for many of my neighbors.  It's embarrassing to see all that water running off lawns and out of pools without providing much benefit for anyone.  I will be curious to see if that behavior changes with this drought declaration.

Offline mountainmoma

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Re: Drought emergency declared in California
« Reply #13 on: January 19, 2014, 11:32:17 PM »
Ironic that Northern CA does more water conservation than your part of southern CA for sure ! Maybe your area has somekind of water deal with locked in rates on high volumes of water....

But, I dont understand why anyone would have water running out of their pool ?

Maybe you should go to your city council meetings and find out what your communities plans are for the drought

Offline FreeLancer

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Re: Drought emergency declared in California
« Reply #14 on: January 20, 2014, 01:37:24 AM »
Ironic that Northern CA does more water conservation than your part of southern CA for sure ! Maybe your area has somekind of water deal with locked in rates on high volumes of water....

We're situated over one of the largest aquifers in the state and do not import water.  While it does provide a tremendous amount of water security for the municipalities in our area, thinking that it makes us invulnerable to drought isn't wise, in my opinion.

But, I dont understand why anyone would have water running out of their pool ?

I don't either, but a guy on my street manages to do it all the time.  A year ago I actually jumped his fence to find and shut off the fill valve when we couldn't track him down (I got the agreement of some fellow neighbors first).  Watching nearly 10 gallons a minute run into the storm drains for 3 days was too much.

Offline RitaRose1945

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Re: Drought emergency declared in California
« Reply #15 on: January 20, 2014, 03:20:43 PM »
A year ago I actually jumped his fence to find and shut off the fill valve when we couldn't track him down (I got the agreement of some fellow neighbors first).  Watching nearly 10 gallons a minute run into the storm drains for 3 days was too much.

We rent, and we've had a leak in the plumbing under the front walk for about 2 months now.  The landlords (via a management company) are taking their sweet time getting it fixed because it's probably going to cost them more than they want to pay.  Meanwhile, we're using an extra 11,000 or so gallons of water every month.

We did our part right away, reporting it to the management company.  And they did their part right away, informing the landlords and getting bids.  But we're still waiting for the landlords to approve the work.  Just ridiculous.  Not only has it wasted more than 30,000 gallons of water, it's most likely making some kind of pool under the foundation (we can't find any soft or greener spots between the meter and the house), and that's a little creepy all by itself.

I could say "No big deal, it's not MY house that could eventually fall into a sinkhole" but it's just so wasteful.  The bill is quadrupled because the amount leaking is 3X that of our normal water usage, since we do try to conserve.

nelson96

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Re: Drought emergency declared in California
« Reply #16 on: January 20, 2014, 05:53:12 PM »
Speaking toward people from other States not knowing what's really going on in your State. . .  I offered to let the husband of a co-worker from Vermont join us on an elk hunt about 5 or 6 years ago.  He had never been to Oregon before, or been on an elk hunt.  On our drive out (7 hours) to camp I asked him what he thought of Oregon.  He said "my gosh, I had no idea you had so many tree's.  Our news stations have us all convinced your forests have all burned to the ground".

On a similar note, I was always under the influence that California got a good portion of its water from the Colorado River.  Given that it's shared and goes through a water hungry city like Vegas, I've wondered when something would be done to restrict usage.

Offline mountainmoma

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Re: Drought emergency declared in California
« Reply #17 on: January 20, 2014, 06:09:47 PM »
Yeah, the thing about California is it is a realy big state, with alot of people and where the water comes from depends on what city/county you live in, if there is native water and if not, what water agreements have been made.

Overall, the more arid areas import water. There is a very big movement of water from Northern California rivers to the central valley agriculture and to southern California a bit too. Colorado river water does have guaranteed water rights to some southern california areas.

The city of Santa Cruz, by me, gets all of its water from a River that runs thru it. There are absolute environmental rules of how much they can take (how low the river is allowed to go), there is no imported water. The city wanted to build a desalination plant on the bay for drought years like this, but the citizens do not want it, it is extremely expensive and has some environmental costs. There are tons of local reservoirs all over California for the various cities. San Jose, over the hill has a large reservoir and some municipal wells. When I lived briefly in a north bay town, it only had a municipal well.

Sounds like Freelancers' particular southern California town has a very good municipal well on a very good aquifer. So, ironically, he and his neighbors have less water problems or restrictions than Northern California towns with surface water and more rainfall - go figure.

Overall though, California has water issues and has alot of rules about water usage and required restrictions on usages, appliances allowed, plumbing fixtures allowed etc...

Offline FreeLancer

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Re: Drought emergency declared in California
« Reply #18 on: January 20, 2014, 08:43:08 PM »
One of the few benefits provided to the San Bernardino Valley region by the fault lines are a handful of aquifers that form a massive granite bathtub, which locks in the ground water coming off the mountains and prevents it seeping out to the surrounding counties. 

Bonnieblue2A

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Re: Drought emergency declared in California
« Reply #19 on: January 23, 2014, 08:35:19 PM »
UC Berkley Professor says California dry spell may be worst since 1500s

http://sanfrancisco.cbslocal.com/2014/01/22/uc-berkeley-professor-california-hasnt-been-this-dry-in-500-years   

Bonnieblue2A

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Re: Drought emergency declared in California
« Reply #20 on: January 28, 2014, 06:15:48 PM »
California farmers in San Joaquin Valley are concerened Feds will seize  control of San Luis reservoir water if drought continues:

  http://sanfrancisco.cbslocal.com/2014/01/28/as-drought-continues-farmers-fear-feds-could-seize-water/

Offline mountainmoma

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Re: Drought emergency declared in California
« Reply #21 on: January 28, 2014, 09:45:46 PM »
Read the sacramento paper monday morning on the train, they are not allowed to water outside at all on weekdays, each house is assigned either sat or sun to do some watering in the yard. This is city of Sacramento

Offline lochaber

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Re: Drought emergency declared in California
« Reply #22 on: January 29, 2014, 04:37:28 AM »
Do these restrictions differentiate between lawns and food gardens?  Is rain collection allowed?

Offline mountainmoma

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Re: Drought emergency declared in California
« Reply #23 on: January 29, 2014, 10:20:46 AM »
I dont live in sacramento, but in general from what I have seen in past California droughts, it means you cant use a hose outside, cant use tap water, and does not matter if for food or lawn. There is no restrictions on using grey water in the gardens though, so in the past water would be carried out in a bucket or pot from sink or shower water (catch the cold water while shower warms up in a bucket, then carry it out to a favored plant or garden).

Now some house already have a real grey water system plumbed in, but of course most houses dont.

I have not heard of any restrictions on rainwater catchment. But, California does not get any rain at all for more than half the year(most places, there are a few exceptions, the sierra nevada mountains do get afternoon thunderstorms in summer, but that is above the tree lines...) There is no rain water to catch during the growing season. Usually I can count on rain starting November thru April for real rain storms. Sometimes we will get some rain in May, I have seen a small amount beginning of June. But, overall, the gardens need to be watered June-Oct.

Offline lochaber

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Re: Drought emergency declared in California
« Reply #24 on: January 29, 2014, 10:40:42 AM »
You mentioned opposition to desal plants, what is that all about? I'd think California would be all over that, seeing how there is a darn near infinite amount of water right there, and the generally sunny condition might even be conducive to fairly renewable way of doing it.  To me it seems it would be a much smarter way to spend money then high speed rail.

Offline mountainmoma

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Re: Drought emergency declared in California
« Reply #25 on: January 29, 2014, 11:13:32 AM »
Water is not a state government issue -- water is a county or city issue. De-sal can be done by a coastal city, on their own resources. The one here was voted down because we are also a university town, and the University of California is expanding ALOT at this location, and I guess they are allowed to and dont need public input, but they do use city water -- they also have some wells of their own -- SO, locally the thought of building a very, very expensive de-sal plant, out of local tax money, while UCSC expands, and a perception of young students not conserving as much as they could, etc.....

The local santa cruz residents conserve more than I have seen anywhere else. More household grey water. Way, way less lawns. A lawn is unusual. So, the residents decided that they would rather conserve than to build de-sal

Solar is not energy intensive enough to run the large pumps, so far as I know. I would be an a larger array than covering the footprint of the desal plant

here is a quote from a southern CA news paper as to why they are not wanting to do de-sal.

"......Ocean water desalination doesn’t pencil out. It’s far too expensive to produce potable water from seawater — about $2,000 an acre foot, compared to about $1,000 an acre foot for imported water. It requires a tremendous amount of energy to purify saltwater. And there are potentially serious environmental impacts from sucking in millions of gallons of ocean water and pumping the leftover brine back into the ocean.

That’s why Long Beach shelved plans for a desalination project with the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power. It’s a lot cheaper to conserve water or recycle it.

In fact, Orange County has a model water recycling operation down the road in Fountain Valley, where sewage water is purified in a treatment plant and then pumped to large ponds to percolate into the groundwater supply. This costs about $900 an acre foot and uses one-third the amount of electricity of a desalination plant, according to the Orange County Water District. And it reuses wastewater rather than sticking a straw in the ocean.

Climate change will affect the reliability of California’s water supply. Utilities throughout the state should be thinking about how to use less water imported from Northern California and the Colorado River, and developing “homegrown” water through recycling and conservation. Desalination should be a last resort....."

Offline mountainmoma

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Re: Drought emergency declared in California
« Reply #26 on: January 29, 2014, 11:30:22 AM »
Anyway, more desal will be built in some areas, I am sure. There is a small one across the bay here, in Sand City. I remember sand city growing up, it doesnt have any native water, and so realy had only a handful of residents living there. It has a desal plant that takes well water, not sea water, that is too salty, cleans it up with reverse osmosis, then puts it back into a discharge well where it filters out of the discharge well into the sea. It is a very environmentally benign system. But, it is also very, very small. And, $13million to build a plant in an area with a couple hundred residents (that is a population explosion there, there were only a handful of houses there when I grew up). I guess this is all being paid for by tax dollars from a new shopping area that was built there. It is kind of like target and home depot, etc... saw empty land with out water and paid to get water so they could set up shop. Which is fine, but the economics and environmental costs are very different for large cities. This $13million dollar system only produces 300 acre feet (98 million gallons) of water a year. And, the $13 million was just production costs. It takes a whole lot of expensive electricity to reverse osmosis 300 acre feet of water every year. Plus other maintanance costs.

Offline lochaber

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Re: Drought emergency declared in California
« Reply #27 on: January 29, 2014, 01:28:44 PM »
Apparently the saudis have been building solar desal lately to keep costs down because doing it with oil and NG was too expensive. However consider the source, if they can make solar desal cheaper then oil or gas, given how they produce oil and gas, that has too be pretty cheap. Sure, they also probably have more sun, but it might a break even equation in California.

It can't be cheaper for ever to ship water in from the Colorado basin, when that area is drying up too.

Offline mountainmoma

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Re: Drought emergency declared in California
« Reply #28 on: January 29, 2014, 02:19:57 PM »
The thing to consider with the saudis is that they have a ton of wealth to play with to build these things. We dont. What do you pay for water ?  Notice that the LA times quote above says they think they could get de-sal water at $2000/acre ft. And, at that price, they would rather conserve. Other places are building de-sal plants.

When water is prohibitively expensive, people cannot afford to have a watered yard or wash cars.

With agriculture, there is also a point of economics. IF you cant sell the produce for a high enough price to pay for the new de-sal produced water -- then what was the point ?

So, that is why the percolation ponds of recycled water mentioned in the article, coupled with yet more conservation make more sense for most locations

Offline mountainmoma

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Re: Drought emergency declared in California
« Reply #29 on: January 29, 2014, 02:29:47 PM »
That was an interesting link from Bonnieblue, doesnt say why the fed's may not let it go to the farmers, but I bet it has to do with the issues mentioned in the next article linked there. People/towns that need it. It is our perrenial California water tug of war between farms and households.

This linked  article mentions how some of our smaller areas only have a few months of water left, one of them, Lompico, right here in my area. ANd, my personal well, along with many, many more will not make it without water. Some are paying to have water delivered already.

If this is a 500 year drought, then this water may need to be trucked to cities and households. It is a shame to lose central valley crops and trees, and we will see prices go up if this happens, but people do need water to drink.

I wonder if we will make a more equitable way to get water for those of us low income households who's wells will likely go dry.....