Monday, September 29, 2014

Day After Day, the Whole Place Flakin' Away

California's Drought continues:

First, some news via Drudge: Daily water allocation could be the next California drought strategy
You probably know your Social Security number, your driver’s license number and perhaps the latest wrinkle in mattress marketing, your sleep number.

But do you know your drought number?

The latter represents the amount of water you are allowed to use per day. If you don’t know it, you probably should. Not knowing could cost you money. As California’s severe drought moves into a fourth year, state and local water agencies are working on something called “allocation-based rate structures,” a kind of precursor to water rationing that’s all the rage in Sacramento and in some areas such as Santa Cruz, Irvine and Santa Monica.

Here’s how it works: Your local water company, special district or city assigns you and your household a number in gallons — a daily water allocation. Usually, one number applies to maximum indoor water use, i.e. showers, kitchen and bathroom faucets, dishwashers, clothes washers, etc., and an extra allocation is assigned for outdoor use such as lawn irrigation.
We normally call such allocations by that nasty word "rationing."
Using census records, aerial photography and satellite imagery, an agency can determine a property’s efficient water usage. At the Irvine Ranch Water District, number of residents, amount of landscaping and even medical needs are factored into a household’s water allocation or water budget.
As a member of our local water co-ops board of directors, I would like to avoid such intrusive measures. I don't want to be asking how many people are living in the house to be used to set a ration, above which people will be harshly penalized, but I could see it come to that. We already argue about how best to set rates, to provide the best deal for our customers while discouraging excessive water use.
While some call it a more equal way to meter out mandatory water conservation, others call it social engineering. Some say the idea simply will not work.

In July, the State Water Resources Control Board passed stage one emergency regulations, giving powers to all local water agencies to fine $500 per violation.
Our local water co-op doesn't even have meters (yet), although we have a plan in place to install them, and I can already see a disagreement shaping as how to charge for water. In our case, our water supply isn't really controlled by rainfall (except may 10-14,000 years ago when our aquifer was filled), but by our capacity to deliver water. Hot dry weather makes people water their lawns, to the point that we are sometime unable to keep up with demand, and deplete our storage tanks.  This has been very good year for us, with rain mostly in time to keep the lawn green, and water use is down accordingly.

So how much water do Americans use?  Approximately 80-100 gallons per person per day:
Typical water use at home
BathA full tub is about 36 gallons.
Shower2-2.5 gallons per minute. Old shower heads use as much as 4 gallons per minute.
Teeth brushing<1 gallon, especially if water is turned off while brushing. Newer bath faucets use about 1 gallon per minute, whereas older models use over 2 gallons.
Hands/face washing1 gallon
Face/leg shaving1 gallon
Dishwasher20 gallons/load, depending of efficiency of dishwasher
Dishwashing by hand:4 gallons/minute for old faucets.. Newer kitchen faucets use about 1-2 gallons per minutes.
Clothes washer25 gallons/load for newer washers. Older models use about 40 gallons per load.
Toilet flush3 gallons for older models. Most all new toilets use 1.2-1.6 gallons per flush.
Glasses of water drunk8 oz. per glass (did you remember to drink your 8 glasses of water today?)
Outdoor watering2 gallons per minute
I save that one gallon per day by not shaving.

And that works out to be about right for our community 800 house, times 3 people per house (probably slightly less due to many older residents, but we don't have records), and 4-5 million gallons of water pumped per month on average, for a guesstimate about 70 gallons per person per day.

A large number of people in California are facing water restrictions now as a result of the drought:
Growing List Of NorCal Communities Running Out Of Water In Just 60 Days

As you probably know, Georgia I hail from California many years back, and our families are still mostly there, scattered up and down the length of California, from Los Angeles to McKinleyville and are experiencing the drought. Brother Ted, from Murphys, California gives his view:

despite the “Unprecedented Drought” that we are currently having, New Melones Reservoir is at this time 150′ and change higher then it was back in 1992
In other words, as dry as it has been, it could still get worse:

From a long-term perspective, it looks like California may just be recovering from an unprecedented wet spell that happened to coincide with the introduction of Europeans to the region.

There had been some up that a brewing El Nino might bring some needed rain, but the recent forecasts suggest a weal El Nino that is unlikely to provide much relief: A 'fickle' El Niño may still appear this year - but it won't be strong enough to end droughts in parched California, claims Nasa
El Niño - a heating of sea-surface temperatures in the Pacific - affects wind patterns and can trigger both floods and drought in different parts of the globe.

The most recent waves increase the chances that parched California could be in for some relief - albeit small - if weather patterns take a turn later this year.

But Nasa has warned that 'fickle' El Niño will likely be weak if it does appear, providing only limited relief for a drought-ridden west coast.

Around 430,000 acres of land will be left fallow in California - because there hasn't been enough rain or snow coming from the nearby mountain ranges.
If I were king (or even governor) of California, I would immediately drop the bullet train from nowhere to nowhere (Bakersfield to Fresno) project and concentrate my efforts on building adequate water supplies, whether by new reservoirs, bigger water projects, or desalination. Without a good water supply, California as it exists now cannot continue. Instead, I'm sure the powers that be will write it off to climate change (just look at the chart above for an instant refutation of that notion), and demand further restriction on energy use and control of the economy.

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