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Western Drought
Old 06-26-2015, 03:19 PM   #1
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Western Drought

Inasmuch as many ER members live in the western part of the US, the lingering drought is certainly causing major concerns.

It is easy enough to read about the many scenarios that forecast more of the same, but fewer to outline possible solutions. I'm sure that all of us would like to see a more optimistic side... whether by rationing, diverting, drilling. desalination or other solutions not readily obvious.

Your positive thoughts on timelines, technologies and longer term solutions would be appreciated. Years or decades... a longer view of hope.

As much as this means to those affected directly, it's a concern shared by all.
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Old 06-26-2015, 04:38 PM   #2
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No solutions to offer here. Whenever I see Lake Mead or hear of how the Colorado hasn't 'flowed' into the Gulf of California since the 60s I think of the Aral Sea and feel a sense of foreboding. It seems that the obvious solutions have long since been written off and the possibility that the area east of the Rockies may be returning to more 'normal' moisture levels (i.e. drier) is rather scary. Most of what I've read about the aquifers in the western portion of the continent is pretty depressing and water intensive activities such as fracking are speeding the depletion rate.
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Old 06-26-2015, 04:51 PM   #3
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We redesigned our backyard and eliminated the lawn. This is not an economic solution for us as it cost a lot more then the water bill savings, but now we can water just with drip and keep well under prior use. Plus we got a nice long term solution that is visually appealing.
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Old 06-26-2015, 05:23 PM   #4
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We just visited some model homes close by and all of them have a water reclamation system 'standard' which diverts grey water (1st floor only at this stage in their build outs).


I think more and more new homes will incorporate this.


There would have to be a tax credit as an incentive to retrofit existing homes - as the plumbing and demo/rebuild costs would be substantial.


I see more and more people putting in rain barrel capture systems for all of their gutter downspouts - I'm considering doing this as well.


Already got rid of all the grass front and back years ago - we set a trend on our block - more and more people are relandscaping and getting rid of their lawns.


I've converted the back to all drip and will do the front sometime soon.


Residential water usage is just part of the problem. Businesses and growers will have to come up with more inventive ways to conserve water as well.


Desalinization may help but would have to be on a massive scale.


I've heard that a majority of the US aquifers are already past their tipping point - doesn't help that fracking is pumping in toxic waste water that will eventually find it's way into the water table...but I digress...


Maybe technology will advance enough for us to do true 'terraforming' and control weather patterns?


Toilet to tap is in demonstration systems in SD now - maybe that will catch on after getting past public opinion?
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Old 06-26-2015, 05:35 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by imoldernu View Post
Inasmuch as many ER members live in the western part of the US, the lingering drought is certainly causing major concerns.

It is easy enough to read about the many scenarios that forecast more of the same, but fewer to outline possible solutions. I'm sure that all of us would like to see a more optimistic side... whether by rationing, diverting, drilling. desalination or other solutions not readily obvious.

Your positive thoughts on timelines, technologies and longer term solutions would be appreciated. Years or decades... a longer view of hope.

As much as this means to those affected directly, it's a concern shared by all.
Be like the astronauts - recycle pee.

heh heh heh - I remember 1969 helping to make mockups for proposed space potties and such. Reuse those liquids.
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Old 06-27-2015, 01:23 PM   #6
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Be like the astronauts - recycle pee.
The local water consortium has for the past year been subtlety "floating" the idea of toilet to tap to supplant our allocation of Colorado water via CAP. Our locality does draw it's maximum and recharges the aquifer but its slowly a loosing battle.

_B
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Old 06-27-2015, 02:21 PM   #7
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In San Diego we use a lot of "reclaimed" water (aka highly processed "pee"). Golf courses, apartment complexes and commercial buildings irrigate with reclaimed water too. I believe they're still fighting about reclaimed water in the OC, though.

We have all low water use landscaping on drip. I water the front Dymondia "lawn" three times ... per year. I also have a couple of big rain collection tanks.
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Old 06-27-2015, 03:00 PM   #8
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El Nino is supposed to return with a vengeance this year so maybe that'll help bust the drought.
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Old 06-27-2015, 04:00 PM   #9
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All one has to do is drive down central California to see where most of the water in the state is going. Farmers use up to 80% of the water yet agriculture only accounts for 2% of the states economy, seems a little lopsided.
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Old 06-27-2015, 05:31 PM   #10
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Our home in California has a hot water heater with a hot water recirculator installed adjacent to the outflow. It's programmed to start recirculating hot water through the home's pipes 15 minutes or so before I begin my shower. The water comes out hot within 5 seconds instead of the usual 5 minutes, saving many gallons of cold water.

I wish the new homes being built in the drought prone parts of the state had this feature built in, paticularly if the bathrooms are at the far end of the home (as most are), far away from the hot water heater. It may not sound like much, but that's a lot of drinking water going down the drain.
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Old 06-27-2015, 06:06 PM   #11
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I think more and more homes are being built with European style tankless 'instant on' hot water heaters for individual bathrooms. Cuts down on the loss of cold water due to transit and the need to keep 40 gallons of water hot 24 hours a day.
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Old 06-27-2015, 06:17 PM   #12
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Our home in California has a hot water heater with a hot water recirculator installed adjacent to the outflow. It's programmed to start recirculating hot water through the home's pipes 15 minutes or so before I begin my shower. The water comes out hot within 5 seconds instead of the usual 5 minutes, saving many gallons of cold water.



I wish the new homes being built in the drought prone parts of the state had this feature built in, paticularly if the bathrooms are at the far end of the home (as most are), far away from the hot water heater. It may not sound like much, but that's a lot of drinking water going down the drain.

We installed this on our new place. I used to collect 5-8 gals. of water to get the shower warm. Now it takes maybe 1/2 gallon. It is still used for plants but way easier to tote.

With this system, though, our natural gas bill about doubled. Once we saw the increase, we put the recirc pump on a timer, which saves a little.

We also have a diverter for our RO unit. When it recharges, we capture that water, too.
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Old 06-28-2015, 10:58 AM   #13
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When we built our house in 2010 we put in 4"'s of insulation in the walls and attic. Only during consecutive hot days do we turn on the air conditioning; plus, our home is 1300 sq. ft. PG&E typically costs around $50+ per month. The tankless water heater does help, but it takes a few minutes for the shower to get hot. We have a good well (10 gals. per minute), and so far, so good. The irrigation water also helps immensely.

I have been affected mostly by worry. Just last week there was a fire 1/2 mi. from our house. It is so dry...it just feels like things could explode with just one spark. Unfortunately, we have fires around here just about on a daily basis, and are holding our breaths until the Fall rains....
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