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Old 06-05-2014, 11:03 AM   #41
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The lack of water in LA has been ongoing for more than 100 years!

See: California Water Wars - Wikipedia.

Introduction:
The California Water Wars were a series of conflicts between the city of Los Angeles and farmers and ranchers in the Owens Valley of Eastern California. As Los Angeles grew in the late 1800s, it started to outgrow its water supply...
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Old 06-05-2014, 11:12 AM   #42
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Here's the new list of states with the worst drought (the worst listed first)

#1: California
#2: Nevada
#3: New Mexico
#4: Kansas
#5: Arizona
#6: Oklahoma
#7: Texas

Source: Seven States Running Out of Water - 24/7 Wall St.

This is bad! 100% of California is in "Severe Drought" (or higher), while 77% is in "Extreme Dought". For comparison, 76% of Arizona is in "Severe Drought" but only 7.7% is in "Extreme Drought". I do not know how the levels are defined, but the highest level is "Exceptional Drought". Oklahoma has 30% of the state at that highest level, while none of Arizona is at that level. A full 25% of California is at that highest level, and being a large state, that is a huge area.

Following is the drought map.

We are in deep (and cake dried) doodoo.


Texas looked like CA now in 2011.

Our tip of the state is white - for now. It will be turning color soon.
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Old 06-05-2014, 12:05 PM   #43
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They've got the technology for toilet-to-tap - but people are too heeby-jeebied by it. Given the fact that some of our water comes from the end of the colorado river (which is pretty nasty by the time it gets to us) I'd almost rather have toilet-to-tap water.
We already gave toilet to tap. It's called Earth's water cycle and it has been working well since before the first cave folks wandered about.

Earth's Water Cycle - Windows to the Universe
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Old 06-05-2014, 12:12 PM   #44
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But the recycling circle is getting shorter and shorter. Soon, we will be all like astronauts, doing our own processing of our waste in the home. Nice!

I happened to see a blog of a guy who was building his own RV out of a cargo trailer. He was going to process his own effluent and all that. My, what an ambition! So I got really interested. The guy changed his mind and abandoned the project before he even got to that point.
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Old 06-05-2014, 06:36 PM   #45
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We already gave toilet to tap. It's called Earth's water cycle and it has been working well since before the first cave folks wandered about.

Earth's Water Cycle - Windows to the Universe
Yep. It's like the old saying. When you take a drink of water in New Orleans, 11 people drank it before you.
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Old 06-05-2014, 08:11 PM   #46
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We referred to desal in the business as electricity in a bottle.

The whole pricing structure and respect for water is completely out of whack. Spent 38 years in the business and am glad it's someone else's worry now. In the southeast, saw bad droughts in 2001-2 and 07-08, the last one which damn near exhausted Atlanta, Raleigh, and Durham's sources. The panic all went away when it started raining again, and to my knowledge not a single additional source has been brought on line since then. One thing I know, you absolutely cannot solve a water deficit when you're in a drought (source development takes decades these days). Restrictions? Maybe choke off 5-10% but in most places as price has gone up discretionary water use has gone way down. What we called hardening the demand. Went from 80k to 105k customers as prices went up; the overall usage actually decreased because people cut out most irrigation. So now if a drought there's not much to squeeze out.

I predicted in 07 08 that a major city would have a water failure within 10 years. It may not happen before 17, but it will happen. Policy leaders have no stomach for dealing with these vulnerabilities. Water supply is designed on basis of 50 year safe yield, as in to withstand the worst drought of 50 year recurrence, or in other words, with the plan that there is slightly less than a 2% chance in any given year.....a city will run out of water. We don't design bridges, buildings, or airplanes with a chance of failing in any given year of 2%. I'm done, too painful.
Interesting. I have a silly question: as a retail simpleton/customer, what can I do to hedge these problems? I keep a 55 gal drum of water in the basement for emergencies, but obviously that does not go far. We are planning to get rid of the lawn in the front yard over the next few years and then shut off the sprinklers there. Anything else I can do?
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Old 06-06-2014, 08:25 AM   #47
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Unfortunately, I have no answers as to what an individual reliant on utility water can do to hedge against flawed assumptions of supply sufficiency. During my first drought I went over two weeks without any decent sleep as I contemplated the various scenarios. Sure, no one will die of thirst. What is more problematic is economy, sanitation, firefighting. You can't turn the utility pressure down to conserve and you can't alternate delivery to areas; the hydraulics of about any utility don't allow it especially with any kind of terrain.

I attended one state meeting hosted by the governor and thought it was hilarious when the state honcho of public safety assured everyone that they were prepared if a major city lost its supply; their hurricane plan provided for delivery of bottled water! Really Toilets don't flush for days or weeks, no water for firefighting, and an economy basically...stops. Then after it started raining everyone forgot about the perils of the inadequacy.

I'm really not that familiar with western supply alternates; I suspect that in times of scarcity there may be the ability to divert ag water to municipal. However, in southeast cities except coastal are totally dependent on reservoirs and there aren't any real alternate sources except wastewater effluent. When the lake goes down, that's it. Don't even get me started on the flawed assumption that you can make drinking water out of the last 10-20% of the lake volume when it's chock full of sediment and algae, and your filter runs go from a day to hours and the losses from backwashing go from 10% to way up there.

As my signature line might indicate, I'm glad to free from any responsibility for the above subject. It's other's problems. As for the solution when facing growing populations and demand, it's depressing. Almost all potential reservoir sites in growing areas are in play or development has made them unpermittable if the environmental regs haven't already. In our state most would predict that we've permitted the last major drinking water reservoir. Now what? Meanwhile in our city people bit_h about a water and sewer bill going to over $40. Retirement is good!
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Old 06-06-2014, 08:40 AM   #48
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With underground aquifer levels dropping and being 100% dependent on a well for (non-drinking) water, I've looked at rainwater harvesting. I discussed it with a neighbor down the road who installed a 20,000 gallon system a few years ago. It worked great - when it rained occasionally. During a couple of long dry spells he had to run a garden hose (several, actually) to his closest neighbor to get water from his well.
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Old 06-06-2014, 09:14 AM   #49
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Let me add that one of the great fallacies of drought planning is states mandating that cities interconnect supply in the event of drought, which ReWahoo's post reminded me of. The problem is that a) when there's a drought in your city there in almost all likelihood is one in your neighbors! and b) when everyone is eyeing dropping lakes, no one cares about the neighbor if their city is in imminent danger. Hence the only way interconnects work is with ironclad contracts to supply in the face of drought; and that will come with a steep price IF the supplier is willing to sell those rights. I've seen cases where one city's residents say "why should WE be on restrictions, we're selling water to that OTHER city, dammit!" No easy answers in the business... Add to that that it used to be cities wanted to sell all they could for the revenue. Now there are few who do. OTOH, when droughts hit and restrictions kick in, if they are effective guess what happens to the revenue? You mean you're raising my rates because I conserved like you told me? The water business is largely one of fixed cost.
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Old 06-06-2014, 09:21 AM   #50
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... Retirement is good!
At the right place that is. Perhaps I should stick with my original plan as spelled out in my screen name: go where water is abundant.
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Old 06-06-2014, 09:25 AM   #51
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Here's the new list of states with the worst drought (the worst listed first)

#1: California
Well the new owner's of our home in San Jose ripped out our low-water native garden and replaced it with grass. The county had given rebates (up to a few $k) to remove the lawn in the first place.
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Old 06-06-2014, 09:51 AM   #52
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Vacationed in Carlsbad CA for a week in early May. As I walked around the neighborhood (Aviara) it really struck me on how lush and green everything along the streets were. On a 4-5 mile walk both sides of the street (mostly city property) were filled with what sure looked like water hungry plants/shrubs/trees and an irrigation system was up and running all along the streets to give them what they needed. Not sure, maybe the city uses reclaimed water for most of this, but it sure seems like they need to start moving to a xeriscape type landscaping. If anything it would set a good example for the local residents that also seem to enjoy the look of a lush green landscape.
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Old 06-06-2014, 10:53 AM   #53
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their hurricane plan provided for delivery of bottled water! Really Toilets don't flush for days or weeks,
We could learn from the citizens of Christchurch New Zealand who went quite a while with no adequate sewer system.

After Earthquake, New Zealanders Share Photos of their Improv Outside Toilets | Prison Photography
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Old 06-08-2014, 08:26 PM   #54
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Most people do not realize that the once mighty Colorado River stopped flowing to the sea a long, long time ago. The trickle that crosses the border has been so laden with salt that as a pact with Mexico, the US built a desalination plant to have some good water to pump to these poor downstream Mexicans to use.

And I read that in a National Geographic article some 15-20 years ago.

Speaking of agriculture, efficient irrigation methods have another side effect. Bad, bad side effect. Salt, fertilizer, and insecticides accumulate in the soil instead of getting leached away. With time, the productivity of the land decreases as the salinity of the soil increases.

If it's not one thing, it's another!
That has been a problem for several thousand years.
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Old 06-10-2014, 11:35 AM   #55
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This problem does not exist in places with sufficient rainfall, or where water is abundant to allow deep irrigation to leach the salt deeper into the earth (it all ends up in the ocean). I believe that modern agriculture in arid land where nothing has grown naturally before really brings this problem to the surface.



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Old 06-10-2014, 02:30 PM   #56
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This problem does not exist in places with sufficient rainfall, or where water is abundant to allow deep irrigation to leach the salt deeper into the earth (it all ends up in the ocean). I believe that modern agriculture in arid land where nothing has grown naturally before really brings this problem to the surface.

Ah, the Westlands district. Those whacky agribusinesses, growing crops on an ancient dead seabottom. Hard sedimentary rock 10-15 feet down, all nice and salty. Just add water and the brine comes percolating up. )=P

Of course, if you just flush enough water through early in the season, you can get a crop to grow. The salts just run off and drain to Kesterson National Wildlife Refuge. What could possibly go wrong?
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Old 06-10-2014, 04:55 PM   #57
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From a Wikipedia article:
The Kesterson National Wildlife Refuge is an artificial wetland environment, created using agricultural runoff from farmland in California's Central Valley.
So, not only that we can grow crop where it was not possible before, we now also have a Wildlife Refuge where one did not exist. Nice!
Wildlife in this region suffered deformities due to selenium poisoning, drawing the attention of news media and leading to the closure of the refuge.
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Old 06-17-2014, 12:50 PM   #58
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In his earthship books, Mr. Reynolds claims the houses he designs/builds get by with around 12" of rainfall, no well, solar/battery power and (virtually) no fuel for heating. While his construction approach is to build walls using stacked tires, each crammed full of dirt, then cement plaster over the wall, the water, thermal, & electrical aspects can be adapted to most other construction methods.
For further info check Mike Reynolds site:
http://earthship.com/

His three Earthship books are available free to read online:
www.scribd.com/doc/23400396/EarthShip-VOL1
www.scribd.com/doc/105685196/Earthship-Vol-2-Systems-and-Components
http://www.scribd.com/doc/105685235/Earthship-Vol-3-Evolution-Beyond-Economics

Seminar on earthships by Mike Reynolds, two multi-hour sessions.
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Old 06-17-2014, 12:53 PM   #59
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Man, it's tough to collect enough rainfall for personal consumption out of 12"/yr, so I guess crop cultivation is out.

I will watch these later when I have a better Web connection.
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Old 06-17-2014, 03:23 PM   #60
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In his earthship books, Mr. Reynolds claims the houses he designs/builds get by with around 12" of rainfall, no well, solar/battery power and (virtually) no fuel for heating. While his construction approach is to build walls using stacked tires, each crammed full of dirt, then cement plaster over the wall, the water, thermal, & electrical aspects can be adapted to most other construction methods.
For further info check Mike Reynolds site:
http://earthship.com/ (snip)
Back when I was considering building a house with my own hands as a post-retirement project, I looked into the Earthship building method, and bought and read one of the books, I think probably the first one. Earthships are a high-thermal-mass type of building, so they are not suitable for all climates. As I understand it they work best where days are hot and nights are cold, in other words a climate where the heat only has to be stored in the walls for a short time. Storing heat from summer to use in winter requires a different kind of building, and in a climate (like where I live in the maritime NW) in which the incoming solar energy is low during the winter, just when the heat is really needed, yet a different kind of house is appropriate—one with emphasis on insulation rather than storage mass. I'm not at all sure how successfully the water collection and other aspects of the system could be adapted. A different sort of building in the climate for which Earthships are intended would likely have higher energy use and so the measures used in an Earthship would not produce an adequate power supply, would not have adequate window area to produce enough solar gain to heat the house, etc etc. An Earthship in a climate for which it isn't appropriate would run into similar problems. I think in many places, urban or suburban sites with the necessary uninterrupted access to incoming sunlight might be few and far between. But for a rural site in an appropriate climate, I believe the Earthships have succeeded quite well.
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Man, it's tough to collect enough rainfall for personal consumption out of 12"/yr, so I guess crop cultivation is out.(snip)
I'm going by memory here, but as I recall, the area immediately inside the all-glass south wall of the Earthship is filled with raised beds and used for food production, using greywater from the house's showers, sinks, etc for irrigation. I think this would be equivalent to a semi-heated or un-heated greenhouse (depending on the exact climate the building is in) and quite a variety of food crops could be grown year round--leaf & root vegetables, peas & the cabbage family during the cool season, tomatoes, peppers and their relatives once the weather warms up, and I would guess (if self-pollinating varieties are available) even some fruits like strawberries or dwarf citrus. I think the only things that wouldn't grow in such a space are the ones that need freezing weather in the winter in order to set flowers for the next year, and you could always grow those in tubs and put them out in the winter to get their required chilling, or just plant them outdoors.
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