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California's Drought
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mac



Joined: 07 Mar 1999
Posts: 16659
Location: Berkeley, California

PostPosted: Fri May 21, 2021 3:30 pm    Post subject: California's Drought Reply with quote

The usual suspects on this forum tend to repeat talking points, usually from the disinformation industry associated with growing almonds to send to China. What is missing from the discussion is any understanding of how widespread the drought is--across most to the west--and the absurdity of ideas like build new reservoirs--whatever the cost and yield.

A few examples from what is actually going on as the State tries to grapple with the drought at the moment.

-- California has over 3000 institutions distributing water, which vary from a handful of homes on a mutual water system, do the giant Metropolitan Water District that serves much of Southern California. Obviously, the water sources, financial resources, and technical capacity varies dramatically.

-- Communities on the Russian River are essentially out of water. Unknown to those who rely on Fox news kinds of talking points, is that one of the very large reservoirs in California, Warms Spring Dam, collects water from the Russian River watershed. No rain means no water. Increased heat means more evaporation.

-- The small community of Fort Bragg, on the historically wet North Coast, has forecast running out of water by summer. They serve a number of other small cities and emergency supplies for the surrounding, even more rural areas.

What has caused this? Climate change.
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mrgybe



Joined: 01 Jul 2008
Posts: 5072

PostPosted: Fri May 21, 2021 11:21 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

BEGINNING about 1,100 years ago, what is now California baked in two droughts, the first lasting 220 years and the second 140 years. Each was much more intense than the mere six-year dry spells that afflict modern California from time to time, new studies of past climates show. The findings suggest, in fact, that relatively wet periods like the 20th century have been the exception rather than the rule in California for at least the last 3,500 years, and that mega-droughts are likely to recur.

https://www.nytimes.com/1994/07/19/science/severe-ancient-droughts-a-warning-to-california.html
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mac



Joined: 07 Mar 1999
Posts: 16659
Location: Berkeley, California

PostPosted: Fri May 21, 2021 11:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Consider the possibility that this is not a binary question. California does have a highly variable climate with frequent droughts. Scientists—as opposed too flacks for the carbon industry—say this drought is worse because of climate change.

Quote:
The wildfires were more destructive. The drought was the longest on record. And the storms, when they finally came, unleashed more water than our dams could contain.


To live in California over the last decade has meant enduring a steady procession of weather-related disasters, each one seemingly worse than the last.

Five of the 10 largest fires in state record books have occurred since 2010. So has California's third driest year since 1895, as well as its third wettest year since 1895, according to the Western Regional Climate Center. In 2015, the Sierra snowpack—the source of one-third of the state's fresh water—reached its lowest level in 500 years.

In years past, we might have attributed these events to a string of bad luck. But now they stir up a sinking sense of dread.

This is climate change, we tell ourselves—the payback for pumping carbon dioxide into the atmosphere for more than a century.

We fear the natural disasters that have always been part of life in California will only get worse. And we wonder: How long can we remain in the state that we love?

The wildfires were more destructive. The drought was the longest on record. And the storms, when they finally came, unleashed more water than our dams could contain.


To live in California over the last decade has meant enduring a steady procession of weather-related disasters, each one seemingly worse than the last.

Five of the 10 largest fires in state record books have occurred since 2010. So has California's third driest year since 1895, as well as its third wettest year since 1895, according to the Western Regional Climate Center. In 2015, the Sierra snowpack—the source of one-third of the state's fresh water—reached its lowest level in 500 years.

In years past, we might have attributed these events to a string of bad luck. But now they stir up a sinking sense of dread.

This is climate change, we tell ourselves—the payback for pumping carbon dioxide into the atmosphere for more than a century.

We fear the natural disasters that have always been part of life in California will only get worse. And we wonder: How long can we remain in the state that we love?

Scientists say there's no doubt that climate change has amplified the extreme events of the last decade, mostly because the state's average temperature is rising.

California as a whole has warmed by 1 to 2 degrees Fahrenheit since the beginning of the 20th century, according to the state's Natural Resources Agency. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says Southern California is about 3 degrees hotter than it was 100 years ago.

This warming cannot cause California's droughts, fires and storms on its own, but it does boost their effects.

Scientists say there's no doubt that climate change has amplified the extreme events of the last decade, mostly because the state's average temperature is rising.

California as a whole has warmed by 1 to 2 degrees Fahrenheit since the beginning of the 20th century, according to the state's Natural Resources Agency. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says Southern California is about 3 degrees hotter than it was 100 years ago.

This warming cannot cause California's droughts, fires and storms on its own, but it does boost their effects.


The reason for my initial post was to rebut the common right wing talking points that there would be no drought if California just built more dams. Lo and behold, there are multiple sets of right wing talking points.
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techno900



Joined: 28 Mar 2001
Posts: 3966

PostPosted: Sat May 22, 2021 8:06 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Are you saying that if dams could be build without cost or interference from regulations, that they would not be built or needed?

I think the issue is benefit vs cost & regulatory impediments.

Of course, Calif. has built several desalination plants, but not enough to begin solving the problem. All you guys need is more tax dollars and fewer regulations and the problem will be solved. Either that or fewer people drawing on the limited water supply.

Actually, I am sorry that the lack of water is creating almost unsurmountable problems for the state. But I do think your governance has/is handicapping viable solutions.
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coachg



Joined: 10 Sep 2000
Posts: 3111

PostPosted: Sat May 22, 2021 10:08 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

techno900 wrote:
But I do think your governance has/is handicapping viable solutions.

Yes it has. But your governance would allow chemical plants to pollute our water, raise cancer rates and drive our life expectancy down to the bottom 1/3 of the nation like your state. As you see, no easy choices.

Coachg
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mac



Joined: 07 Mar 1999
Posts: 16659
Location: Berkeley, California

PostPosted: Sat May 22, 2021 11:27 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

techno900 wrote:
Are you saying that if dams could be build without cost or interference from regulations, that they would not be built or needed?

I think the issue is benefit vs cost & regulatory impediments.

Of course, Calif. has built several desalination plants, but not enough to begin solving the problem. All you guys need is more tax dollars and fewer regulations and the problem will be solved. Either that or fewer people drawing on the limited water supply.

Actually, I am sorry that the lack of water is creating almost unsurmountable problems for the state. But I do think your governance has/is handicapping viable solutions.


I am saying, and I know, that in most areas of the state new dams would have done no good in relieving the current drought. Here are the reasons.

1. There are dams on most streams, and the most cost effective dams have long since been built. As a case in point, Warm Springs Dam on the Russian River has been storing water since 1984, and has a water supply pool of 245,000 acre feet. But the drought is so severe that the communities it serves may run completely out of water. There is simply no water for a new dam to store, even if there was a good site.

2. All of the proposed new dams develop little water, at huge cost ($2,000-$3,000 an acre foot), prices that are unaffordable to agriculture, which uses 80% of the water.

3. Stored surface water evaporates, more so in the hotter temperatures due to climate change. So reservoir pools need to be deep, with relatively small surface area, or they will lose substantial volumes to evaporation.

You obviously know nothing about water governance—nor have you shown any interest or diligence in learning. But that doesn’t stop you, or even slow you down.

I am not[/b] saying that California doesn’t need new storage. California will lose about 1/3 of its storage over the next 40 years due to warming reducing the snow pack. I am saying that the only practicable place to replace that storage, at that scale, is in the ground. Some efforts in that respect have started, but the technical and legal obstacles are formidable.

The reason that California has not made more progress in using its groundwater has been opposition by corporate farmers and Republicans.
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mac



Joined: 07 Mar 1999
Posts: 16659
Location: Berkeley, California

PostPosted: Sun May 23, 2021 11:39 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Let's see if people that actually know something testify. Unlike the past four years.

Quote:

On Tuesday at 1 p.m. the House Natural Resources Committee's Subcommittee on Water, Oceans, and Wildlife will hold a hearing on the status of drought conditions in the Western United States. What we're watching: Simply put, the drought has arrived in full force this year. The lack of water in the West is severe, with 86 percent of the region under drought of some sort. While the states impacted are likely to play a more major role in preparation and mitigation of the severe water shortages that are already beginning to take their toll, this hearing will take on "the necessity of, and best way to implement, short- and long-term solutions for the coming crisis" on the federal level.


And if you're actually interested in reading more than talking points, these are good journalists.

https://calmatters.org/environment/2021/05/unprepared-california-drought-2021-lessons-learned/?utm_medium=email&utm_source=CalMatters%20Newsletters&utm_campaign=a59307a2ef-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2021_05_21_06_34&utm_term=0_faa7be558d-a59307a2ef-150242853&mc_cid=a59307a2ef&mc_eid=01229ec239
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mac



Joined: 07 Mar 1999
Posts: 16659
Location: Berkeley, California

PostPosted: Wed May 26, 2021 11:52 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Certainly California has failed in many ways in developing rational water policies and solutions. Most significantly, it was the last of the western states to regulate groundwater, and the requirements of that regulation are only beginning to come into effect. The result has been unsustainable groundwater pumping by corporate forms, which has dried up wells for individuals and small communities--and caused massive sinking of the ground. Only the costs of the sinking ground finally moved the conservative Central Valley legislators to support doing something about it. The sinking of Corcoran has been all over the news. Just a sample.

Quote:

The farming town of Corcoran, California has been slowly sinking two feet every year over the last decade as agricultural companies pump underground water to irrigate crops.

Located in California's San Joaquin Valley, the 7.47 square-mile town has a grand total of 21,960 residents and has sunk 11.5 feet in the last 14 years.

The sinking is a result of agricultural companies that have pumped underground water to irrigate their crops for decades, according to the U.S.G.S. California Water Science Center.

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mac



Joined: 07 Mar 1999
Posts: 16659
Location: Berkeley, California

PostPosted: Sun Jun 20, 2021 12:04 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Not just California. https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2021/06/19/california-heat-wave-drought/
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vientomas



Joined: 25 Apr 2000
Posts: 2102

PostPosted: Sun Jun 20, 2021 10:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

mrgybe wrote:
BEGINNING about 1,100 years ago, what is now California baked in two droughts, the first lasting 220 years and the second 140 years. Each was much more intense than the mere six-year dry spells that afflict modern California from time to time, new studies of past climates show. The findings suggest, in fact, that relatively wet periods like the 20th century have been the exception rather than the rule in California for at least the last 3,500 years, and that mega-droughts are likely to recur.

https://www.nytimes.com/1994/07/19/science/severe-ancient-droughts-a-warning-to-california.html


Hhhmmm...were the demands on water the same 1,100 years ago? Same level of agriculture and domestic use? I think not...
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