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Old 04-06-2015, 10:07 PM   #121
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It's entirely possible for consumers to live without almonds. .... Cal almond farmers need to figure out how to conserve, or transition to small water budget crops.
I realize almonds are tremendously profitable, and the problem is not trivial.
I got curious about making my own 'almond milk' about a year ago, but I got rather turned off to the idea when I read it takes a gallon of water to produce a single almond. Gets pretty crazy.

Here's a decent article that gets to some of the 'tragedy of the commons' aspect.

Farming in California's drought: 'Almonds take more total water than any other crop' | The Splendid Table

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Price is one way to allocate a resource, but it tends to work better in those situations where consumers and producers alike have options and both enjoy relatively similar ability to influence the marketplace. Water does not fit these criteria very well.
Why not? We could get almonds or almond substitutes from areas with more plentiful water. The low water areas could move to less water demanding crops.

It looks like about 75% of the CA almond crop is exported overseas. I think we'll manage, and I think the rest of the world can develop almond orchards somewhere, or use substitutes.

http://www.treehugger.com/sustainabl...s-angeles.html


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Perhaps a phase-in of higher rates for agricultural use would be less disruptive.
Yep - even though the rules might be crazy, it's disruptive to just pull the rug out from someone who is playing by the rules. Phase in can be a workable compromise.


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California supplies about 80-90% of the fruits and nuts consumed in the US. 70% of the almond growers are small farmers. Paying market rates will put the small farmers out of business. ...
You could use that argument for the buggy whip makers. Hey, times change. People need to adapt.

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And what are you going to eat? Probably good reasons to subsidize the farmers. What's more important? Food and people's livelihoods or green lawns and fountains?
No, I don't think it is a good reason to subsidize farmers at all. It is a good reason to let the market set the price of things. Production will naturally move to the areas where it is most efficient. It's not food or lawns, we can be smarter about it than that.

There's no free lunch (how appropriate for this discussion!), we can pay more through an inefficient subsidy system, or let market forces decide the prices/production. Seems like the second way will have less effect on prices, and no one will starve from this. Running the water supply dry seems more likely to cause food shortages than moving crop production to meet water supplies.

BTW, one side of my family were farmers, I spent most of my youth on a family farm. I don't think farmers are any more deserving of subsidies than anyone else trying to support their families. And subsidies are just taking from one group and giving to another. No thanks.

-ERD50
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Old 04-06-2015, 10:15 PM   #122
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We had a long and severe drought in Texas two years ago. Half the state areas that had trees burned to the ground. Lots of cattle and pig farmers went bust as did crop farmers. We were on rationing in Houston (known as a great swamp). We survived. California will too.
agreed I actually live in the bit of the hill country still under exceptional drought. Have had address based watering for 4 or 5 years. (But I don't water at all, let the grass turn brown, since its native grass it comes back when it rains.) One year did not mow grass at all other years once or twice.
That of course is the advantage of native plants, the drought in Tx was no worse than the 1950s.
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Old 04-06-2015, 10:19 PM   #123
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I got curious about making my own 'almond milk' about a year ago, but I got rather turned off to the idea when I read it takes a gallon of water to produce a single almond. Gets pretty crazy.

Here's a decent article that gets to some of the 'tragedy of the commons' aspect.

Farming in California's drought: 'Almonds take more total water than any other crop' | The Splendid Table




-ERD50
You should have kept reading and read the comments by the Almond Board of California:

"Do almonds use 10 percent of California’s total water supply? The short answer is no.

This myth, which we’ve heard a few times in the media, seems to trace back to a Slate article from last May. Its author generally engages in a thoughtful and nuanced discussion of California’s water use. He notes that almonds are an important economic contributor in the state and that all foods require water, including some that are far more water intensive than almonds."

Link to article:

No, Almonds Don’t Use 10 Percent of California’s Water | Almond Board of California
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Old 04-06-2015, 10:54 PM   #124
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You should have kept reading and read the comments by the Almond Board of California:

"Do almonds use 10 percent of California’s total water supply? The short answer is no.

This myth, which we’ve heard a few times in the media, seems to trace back to a Slate article from last May. Its author generally engages in a thoughtful and nuanced discussion of California’s water use. He notes that almonds are an important economic contributor in the state and that all foods require water, including some that are far more water intensive than almonds."

Link to article:

No, Almonds Don’t Use 10 Percent of California’s Water | Almond Board of California
In particular rice and alfafa. In addition Ca grows some corn, which grows better further east. Interestingly these crops are decreasing in area right now due to the drought. It should be noted that the US is the predominate supplier of almonds for the world.
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Old 04-06-2015, 11:21 PM   #125
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The claim that almond growers consume 10% of CA's water was disputed to be lower at around 3%. But I was surprised to learn that almonds, in fact all nuts, use a lot of water.

The claim of 1 gal of water per single almond may be way too low, according to another source that I found. It is said that it takes 1919 gal of water to get 1 lb of almond. Given that an almond is about 1.2 grams, there are 378 pieces in a pound, and that means 1919/378 = 5 gal of water per almond!

If you are curious, here's a sample list of how much water our food needs for growing.

Beverages
Coffee: 1056 gal of water/gal of brewed coffee.
Beer: 296 gal of water/gal of beer
Meat
Beef: 1847 gal of water/lb of meat
Pork: 718 gal/lb
Chicken: 518 gal/lb
Protein
Beef: 29.6 gal of water/gram of protein
Chicken: 9 gal/gram
Bean/lentil: 5 gal/gram
Nuts
Almond: 1919 gal of water/lb
Walnut: 1112 gal/lb
Fruits
Plum: 261 gal of water/lb
Peach: 109 gal/lb
Orange: 67 gal/lb
Strawberry: 50 gal/lb
Vegetable
Asparagus: 258 gal of water/lb
Broccoli/Cauliflower: 34 gal/lb
Tomato: 26 gal/lb
Lettuce: 28 gal/lb
Oil
Olive oil: 1739 gal of water/lb
Corn oil: 309 gal/lb


So, to save water we should drink less coffee and more beer, eat more bean and chicken and less beef, eat peanuts and no walnuts nor almonds, more oranges and strawberries and fewer plums, no olive oil but more corn oil, and loads of tomatoes and lettuce.

Of course coffee is all imported from tropical countries while most beers are locally produced, so we really should drink more coffee and less beer.

Source: This Is How Much Water It Takes To Make Your Favorite Foods
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Old 04-06-2015, 11:43 PM   #126
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You should have kept reading and read the comments by the Almond Board of California:

"Do almonds use 10 percent of California’s total water supply? The short answer is no.

This myth, which we’ve heard a few times in the media, seems to trace back to a Slate article from last May. Its author generally engages in a thoughtful and nuanced discussion of California’s water use. He notes that almonds are an important economic contributor in the state and that all foods require water, including some that are far more water intensive than almonds."

Link to article:

No, Almonds Don’t Use 10 Percent of California’s Water | Almond Board of California
? The article I linked didn't claim any 10% usage (or I missed it). So why is any 'myth busting' required?

I wasn't trying to be super-specific regarding almonds versus other crops, it was just a general comment that CA grows a lot of water intensive crops (and I like almonds). That's a problem with a depleting water supply, regardless the specific crop.

But here's a presentation from Blaine Hanson, Department of Land, Air and Water Resources, University of California, Davis - page 4 shows almonds to be among the top products, though 'pasture and alfalfa' are much higher (milk production?).

http://www.arb.ca.gov/fuels/lcfs/wor...ain/hanson.pdf

I just saw this from NW-B's post:
Beer: 296 gal of water/gal of beer
I bet I'm far more efficient than that. Even though I use RO (about 4-5G for 1G RO), I boil off 10%~20%, the grain absorbs another 20%, and there is some washing. I don't think barley is irrigated, it's a tough crop, but I'm not certain. Malting would use some water though. Hops - a few ounces per batch won't amount to much even if it is irrigated (again, I don't think it is - not sure).

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Old 04-07-2015, 12:03 AM   #127
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The water consumption for beer includes the amount used to grow the grains, and not just in the beer making process.

Similarly, the amount of water to make coffee by brewing should be nearly 1 to 1, but they are counting the water needed for the coffee plants to produce the beans.
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Old 04-07-2015, 06:41 AM   #128
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Why not? We could get almonds or almond substitutes from areas with more plentiful water. The low water areas could move to less water demanding crops.

It looks like about 75% of the CA almond crop is exported overseas. I think we'll manage, and I think the rest of the world can develop almond orchards somewhere, or use substitutes.
Your example shows why using price works for some commodities, such as almonds. My post wasn't about almonds, it was about water.

Water is far too important to every aspect of our modern society to trivialize it by assigning it a monetary value. Using that value to allocate water would only mis-allocate it in a different way.
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Old 04-07-2015, 06:59 AM   #129
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The water consumption for beer includes the amount used to grow the grains, and not just in the beer making process.

Similarly, the amount of water to make coffee by brewing should be nearly 1 to 1, but they are counting the water needed for the coffee plants to produce the beans.
That beer amount definitely includes the amount to grow the grain and hop crops.(and it still seems high). Processing at my house is only 2 gals water to make 1 gal beer.

ETA - Plus maybe another gallon or 2 of cleaning water per gallon of beer brewed
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Old 04-07-2015, 07:42 AM   #130
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Your example shows why using price works for some commodities, such as almonds. My post wasn't about almonds, it was about water.

Water is far too important to every aspect of our modern society to trivialize it by assigning it a monetary value. Using that value to allocate water would only mis-allocate it in a different way.

How would assigning it a monetary value misallocate its use

From all I read and hear, the current system is misallocating the use right now... and it is becoming a more precious resource in many areas.... assigning it a monetary value is the best way to allocate it....

As one of my previous post said, that can be done it a way to minimize the pain across the population by having a sliding scale on the cost of water... make the high user marginal cost higher as they use more, they will now have an incentive to conserve.... now it makes sense to invest the money for a more modern irrigation system etc. etc....
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Old 04-07-2015, 08:48 AM   #131
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It's worth noting that the water doesn"t just "disappear", as it eventually returns to the water cycle. Especially with coffee and beer...
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Old 04-07-2015, 08:54 AM   #132
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And the shorter that recycling process the better, right?

A town in Australia proposed processing effluent, then remixing that recycled water back into the fresh water supply. The outcry of the citizenry caused them to abandon that plan. I guess the people were not that thirsty yet.
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Old 04-07-2015, 09:05 AM   #133
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It's worth noting that the water doesn"t just "disappear", as it eventually returns to the water cycle. Especially with coffee and beer...
I remember hearing somewhere that when you drink water in New Orleans, 10 people drank it before you did.
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Old 04-07-2015, 09:50 AM   #134
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This is a good article about the huge impact California's current love affair with almonds and it's impact on the water problem. My grandfather and great grandfather started growing almonds in Northern California in the 30s or 40s I think. It's too bad everyone is growing this crop now!

http://www.independent.com/news/2015...ht-and-almond/

Overpopulation, over farming, overgrazing all play a role in desertification.

The more of us that have fewer or no children, the better off the world will be.

The drought only brings California's water problems into everyone's consciousness because it's in the news.


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Old 04-07-2015, 09:52 AM   #135
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The water consumption for beer includes the amount used to grow the grains, and not just in the beer making process.

Similarly, the amount of water to make coffee by brewing should be nearly 1 to 1, but they are counting the water needed for the coffee plants to produce the beans.
Does that include natural rainwater?

It was hard to get specifics, but I found this:

North Dakota Barley Profile

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North Dakota ranks first in the US for barley production, producing 31% of the total US barley crop ...

The majority of North Dakota barley acres are spring planted starting in early to mid April. Only 0.2 % ... of planted barley is irrigated in North Dakota. Approximately 86 % of the 1999 crop was malting barley varieties and 13 % was feed varieties.
A gallon of beer would take roughly two pounds of barley, about 1/25th of an ~ 50# bushel. So 296x water/beer seems very high.

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Old 04-07-2015, 10:05 AM   #136
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Nuts
Almond: 1919 gal of water/lb
Walnut: 1112 gal/lb

Wow...might be time to take a chainsaw to all the walnut trees growing up wild on my property!
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Old 04-07-2015, 10:06 AM   #137
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You should have kept reading and read the comments by the Almond Board of California:

"Do almonds use 10 percent of California’s total water supply? The short answer is no.
The accounting for the answer seems very unclear to me and hinges on whether "environmental water" is included (to increase the denominator by 100%). Following their link in article leads to this description:

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Environmental water use falls into four categories: water in rivers protected as "wild and scenic” under federal and state laws, water required for maintaining habitat within streams, water that supports wetlands within wildlife preserves, and water needed to maintain water quality for agricultural and urban use. Most water allocated to the environment does not affect other water uses. More than half of California’s environmental water use occurs in rivers along the state’s north coast. These waters are largely isolated from major agricultural and urban areas and cannot be used for other purposes. In the rest of California where water is shared by all three sectors, environmental use is not dominant (33%, compared to 53% agricultural and 14% urban).
This suggests to me that the almond growers are understating water use for the purpose of allocation.
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Old 04-07-2015, 10:07 AM   #138
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Your example shows why using price works for some commodities, such as almonds. My post wasn't about almonds, it was about water.

Water is far too important to every aspect of our modern society to trivialize it by assigning it a monetary value. Using that value to allocate water would only mis-allocate it in a different way.
How would assigning it a monetary value misallocate its use

From all I read and hear, the current system is misallocating the use right now... and it is becoming a more precious resource in many areas.... assigning it a monetary value is the best way to allocate it....

As one of my previous post said, that can be done it a way to minimize the pain across the population by having a sliding scale on the cost of water... make the high user marginal cost higher as they use more, they will now have an incentive to conserve.... now it makes sense to invest the money for a more modern irrigation system etc. etc....
I'm also confused as to why pricing wouldn't work to allocate water?

Assigning a monetary value is to keep it from being trivialized, not the other way 'round (tragedy of the commons).

And almonds are a crop that use lots of water, soooo - my post was about water...

I'm not up on the specifics of water costs in CA, but in general a progressive (tiered) rate is typically a pretty good way to spur conservation of a limited resource.

What are you suggesting? I'm lost.

-ERD50
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Old 04-07-2015, 10:14 AM   #139
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Your example shows why using price works for some commodities, such as almonds. My post wasn't about almonds, it was about water.

Water is far too important to every aspect of our modern society to trivialize it by assigning it a monetary value. Using that value to allocate water would only mis-allocate it in a different way.
I looked back at my water bill for San Jose and I was charged a quantity rate of $2.64 per 748 gallons of water. At our rate of usage it came out to $10/month. I have a hard time seeing how pricing changes would impact residential use given that it is so cheap.

I suspect if farmers and residents had to pay the same amount for water, this would basically result in residents having unlimited water with agriculture being strictly constrained. Although I'm not generally in favor of pricing controls, I also think all the water spent on residential lawns is a complete waste.
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Old 04-07-2015, 10:40 AM   #140
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Price is a mechanism that works well to optimize the allocation of goods and services among consumers and producers. It is most effective (ability to optimize) when the goods and services have substitutes and alternatives, both for consumers as well as producers, and when it can be freely traded or exchanged.

Water is not a good or service, it’s a resource. There are no producers, only consumers. It has no alternative, without water life cannot exist. There is no price that can capture the marginal utility of water for a citrus grower, equate it to a car wash, landscaping need, and human sustenance. If that weren’t enough, water does not only affect and sustain humans, all other life depends on it as well.

Water is certainly a scarce resource, and it needs to be allocated with care. Economic value is just one criterion, though, and many other factors need to be considered. It is too easy to say "price", because that, in fact, might lead to reduced use by some current consumers, but with no assurance that 1) overall use would decline, 2) the reallocated use represents an improvement for the State of California.

Edit to add - this does not mean users should not be charged. Using and consuming water requires an infrastructure, building and improving it costs money and can benefit and improve overall use. My point is using price as the allocation method.
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