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Just wondering, what with the CA drought and all...


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Why is it that with the water shortage in California, and California being next to this really big body of water, they can't filter/de-salinate/whatever some of that water for human consumption/agricultural use?

 

Heck, we use Mississippi river water out here. 'Course we do clean it up some.

 

I've been wondering about this for a while and I figure somebody on here with some real book learning could educate me on this.

 

Angus

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And that would take a LOT of $$$$$$$~!!! emo51.gif

 

And can't spend $$ on silly stuff like water when there's this train to build, ya see... emo41.gif

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The California water "crisis" has nothing to do a lack of snow pack in the Sierras. It is due to a systemically corrupt system that goes back to water "rights" agreed to during its settlement days.

 

Bottom line... California water rights and costs are structured in such a way that people have no incentive to conserve. Most customers in southern California pay less for their water than we do here in east Tennessee, and we are surrounded by the TVA lake system and an abundance of water. When people are paying a pittance for water, whether its for drinking or watering golf courses, there is no reason for a company to build a desalinization plant, nor is there reason to lower consumption.

 

In the mean time, you have the Colorado River not reaching the ocean any more, Lakes Mead and Powell turning into ringed bath tubs, and earth subsiding over shrinking aquifers.

 

I have no sympathy whatsoever for their whining about water.

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Large scale desalination is expensive and not very environmentally friendly. It takes a lot of electricity, so they either need to bring the nukes back online or burn more coal to power it. Also, a byproduct of desalination is a highly concentrated brine (the leftover salt) that has to be disposed of somewhere. If they dump it back in the ocean the seawater salinity goes up, impacting aquatic life in the area.

 

There's still talk of building a trial desalination plant near San Diego (I think) to see how it works out. Proponents hope it'll encourage environmentalists to reconsider their opposition to nuclear power along the way.

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Charlie, what would you consider a "pittance" for water...?

 

I have no lawn, very few plants, and those few on drip. We have low-flow showers, sinks, toilets, and in general use less water at home than your average apartment in a city. "All this" for sixty-five bucks a month. That's water only, and does not include other services typically billed with water in many municipalities.

 

A cousin with a small lot, no back lawn, very little grass in front and a few plants tells me his last bill for two months was over $300.

 

No, the problem in California is much deeper than "cheap water."

 

Our greatest problem is storage. The population of California has increased from 18.5 million in 1965 to over 38 million today. The state had a well planned and constructed storage and delivery system in place then; but, with the number of people more than doubling, very little has been done with water management to keep pace.

 

Proposals to build dams for additional storage are met with fierce opposition from the environmentalist faction, who mostly belong to the "ruling party" in this state.

 

Locally, our Millerton Lake (dam built in 1942) has a capacity of a bit over half a million acre-feet. But the local communities are severely limited in their use of the water; most is drained to flow north to feed into the delta, and eventually to the sea. Why? Ostensibly to bring salmon back to the valley, and to "save the Delta Smelt." Bull pucky. The reality is the water is needed to help dilute the pollution in the Delta from surrounding communities - including the capitol, Sacramento.

 

But all attempts to build a new dam "upstream" from Millerton to increase storage are met with lefty outrage - golly jeepers, but some bug or weed might get drowned!

 

Nope... it's not "cheap water," nor is it the "drought." California is no stranger to droughts; and we used to be able to weather 'em (no pun inteded). What we need to do is either ship out a good chunk of our population, or update and upgrade our water management system, that in the form of more storage (dams) and water moving systems.

 

And that just ain't gonna happen. :(

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Charlie, what would you consider a "pittance" for water...?

 

Hardpan, I should have phrased my comment better. Most of the water consumed in California is bought for a pittance. Unfortunately, that water is consumed by agricultural, industrial, and large commercial customers. However, the largest number of customers are residential, and I will admit that you guys get punked big time because you don't have 150 year old water rights nor big lobbyists in Sacramento.

 

Agricultural customers pay nothing for water if its drawn high enough in the river system. That goes back to the early water "rights" that guaranteed the owning farmers a certain quantity of water. They don't pay for the water. It is not really metered. And they have no inherent incentive to reduce consumption, unless the state is willing to change the "rights" and start doing honest metering.

 

Industrial and commercial prices are structured from baseline years that were established in the 90's when water scarcity started becoming a concern. Basically, if Company X consumed 1MM gallons of water per month, they were allowed to keep consuming 1MM gallons per month at their original low rate. If their consumption went over that amount, they paid very high rates on the extra water. That way the water utilities could claim they were "managing consumption" to save water, when in reality they were simply making sure that consumption didn't go up, but it didn't force consumption to go down.

 

Each year the water utilities look at the previous year's consumption and use it as the baseline for the new year. The net effect is that Company X has economic incentive to keep consuming exactly 1MM gallons of cheap water per month. If they reduced consumption for a year, that means they would have a smaller allotment for next year.

 

I was involved in a project that looked at large commercial customers in Los Angeles. Average cost for water was $5.40/1000 gallons. Here in east Tennessee, those same customers would pay $6/1000 gallons. In Atlanta they would pay $15/1000 gallons.

 

Bottom line. The big users have no incentive to reduce consumption. And with more big users in the state, consumption is exceeding supply by more and more every year. Storage lakes are only useful when there are years with excess water to store. Unfortunately, California consumption has taken away the excess water to store, in all but the most abundant wet years.

 

Here's a fascinating podcast that dives deeper into the topic: http://www.econtalk.org/archives/2015/03/david_zetland_o.html

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"When people are paying a pittance for water" OR "Most of the water consumed in California is bought for a pittance".

Those statements alone, clearly shows that you have NO CLUE. :rolleyes::angry:

It's not just Ca. that's deal'n with this drought. Don't believe you have deserts where you live, do you? ^_^

BTW CH, just what has been your state's rain ave. for the last 5 yrs?

OLG

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OLG and HC, I'm not looking to get in a whizzing contest over this issue. There are many sides to this issue, and each person is free to evaluate them and choose which they prioritize. Living in California, I'm sure your perspectives are different from mine.

 

I have no doubt that the West and Southwest are in a serious drought condition, and I feel very bad for the folks who currently live there. It is going to be a rough year or two.

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OLG and HC, I'm not looking to get in a whizzing contest over this issue. There are many sides to this issue, and each person is free to evaluate them and choose which they prioritize. Living in California, I'm sure your perspectives are different from mine.

 

I have no doubt that the West and Southwest are in a serious drought condition, and I feel very bad for the folks who currently live there. It is going to be a rough year or two.

Well-YOU are the one that 'opened' this 'door'. ;)

Seems strange, how everydangbody outside of Ca. knows, what's best for Ca. <_<

What 'whizzing contest'? :huh: What was the source you used for your remarks.

 

OLG

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Allie, that's likely the case with Auburn - not familiar with it.

 

I tend to be a bit parochial with this issue... locally, our stored water (Millerton) is diverted to the Delta, up north. Attempts to build additional storage (the proposed Temperance Flat dam) will NEVER get past the members of a certain party in the state capitol. Meanwhile, we're parched.

 

Charlie, the issue is indeed complex, even before the politics are introduced. And always has been.

 

Hmm.... Anyone remember Jack Nicholson in "Chinatown?"

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I drive through the CaliforniaCentral Valley for work. You know the valley where the majority of the countries fruits, nuts,corn etc is grown. The farmers do pay for water. And over the years the amount of water they use has slowly been taken away for development. As in more people, homes and businesses.

 

Between the drought, reduced regulated water allotment, and the regulations many farms are shutting down. They can't grow what they can't water!

 

So everyone will be buying Chinese, or South American food stuffs.

 

And the environmentalists have been successful in reducing the water obtained from aquifers or lakes in the Mono Valley. So S. Calif. is impacted.

 

Our water comes from very little rain, and a real reliance on snow pack to fill the lakes and aquifers.

 

As to the Colorado River. It is Federally regulated and the amount of water removed has been drastically reduced. As in making sure Mexico gets some. Back to rain, snow, the reduced rainfall and snow pack in Colorado, Arizona, Utah etc. is why the lakes are almost dry. Not from over usage. 5 years ago they were all full. We suddenly find a way to use all of that water up.

 

Ike

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