Western USA Drought

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cmonkey
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Western USA Drought

Post by cmonkey » Mon Mar 23, 2015 11:45 am

I am wondering if there is anyone on here that is living in the middle of the drought on in California/Nevada region? I have been watching Lake Mead levels for about a year now and use it as personal indicator of how things are fairing out there.

To sum up, it looks pretty bad. - http://lakemead.water-data.com/

We just got done with the "wet" season which is when Lake Mead usually rises. It didn't rise very much this year.

If you look at the past 3 years we are about the enter the time when water levels drop precipitously.

http://graphs.water-data.com/lakemead/


I did some rough calcs and based on an average decline rate of between 20-25 feet per dry cycle from the peak of the wet cycle, Lake Mead should drop to around 1065 feet or so.

Based on outlet pipe levels of 1050 and 1000 feet, if decline rates hold steady going forward, pipe 1 will go dry next year and the second pipe in 2018-2019 timeframe.

http://chanceofrain.com/wp-content/uplo ... 001fD.jpeg


Oh but of course they are building a third pipeline at ~875 feet. The only problem is that this project was started in 2008 and is expected to finish by the end of this year. 8 years to build.


Even with all that effort, Lake Mead supply will be cut by at least half when the second pipe goes dry. It really astounds me the lack of long-term thinking and the efforts to preserve the status quo that are being taken here.


Anyone living in the Lake Mead water shed? How's it affecting you?

Chris
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Re: Western USA Drought

Post by Chris » Mon Mar 23, 2015 9:23 pm

I don't live out there, but there was a recent EconTalk podcast regarding water management in the western US and elsewhere. I found it to be enlightening.

theanimal
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Re: Western USA Drought

Post by theanimal » Tue Mar 24, 2015 10:11 am

I don't live there either but it's of great interest to me as well. This article is pretty interesting.

http://www.hcn.org/articles/is-las-vega ... ill-go-dry

Is the pipe at 875 feet the same pipe that the Southern Nevada Water Authority is building that's discussed in the article?

jacob
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Re: Western USA Drought

Post by jacob » Tue Mar 24, 2015 10:41 am

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/americanexperie ... us-plains/

Last time dust bowl conditions existed in the US (1930s), it caused mass emigration from the plains. A lot left for California.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dust_Bowl#U.S.

Given the severity of the predictions (after all the dust bowl only lasted 8 years), we could be looking at a reverse migration at some point in this century.

DSKla
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Re: Western USA Drought

Post by DSKla » Tue Mar 24, 2015 10:57 am

I'm living in CA, though not on a reservoir. It's looking pretty bad. I am considering my exit strategy. Hopefully I can scoot out before the mass exodus.

The unfortunate part is I just found ERE around the new year and have no money, though I did manage to dig out of debt. So I'm starting at zero--no money to move, no job prospects out of state. It's still better than if I hadn't made the turn and were doing this with debt and larger living expenses, though.

cmonkey
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Re: Western USA Drought

Post by cmonkey » Tue Mar 24, 2015 12:53 pm

theanimal wrote: Is the pipe at 875 feet the same pipe that the Southern Nevada Water Authority is building that's discussed in the article?
Yes it is. I was wrong about the level though, it is actually 860 feet.

Nearly 900 million dollars and 8 years of work for a lifeline that will just continue draining the Colorado. :o

This article has some photos, they are quite impressive and show the level of effort that has gone into this project.

http://www.popsci.com/article/science/l ... -lake-mead

bigato
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Re: Western USA Drought

Post by bigato » Tue Mar 24, 2015 8:56 pm

Very similar conditions here in Sao Paulo (Brazil), the fifth biggest city in the World. We are also about to enter the dry season and levels are at the worst they ever were at this time of the year. The main difference is that we have access to water here, but we don't use it well. Lots of rainwater that went to the sea this summer, even floods. We have a river crossing the city, but it is so poluted that it can't be used. It will take time to adapt, but we are running out of time. To worsen things out, most of our electricity comes from water. Lack of water and lack of electricity will hit the economy hard - and that while we are already facing an economic and political crisis. For most of the 20 century Sao Paulo attracted immigrants from other parts of the country and even from other countries; now unless we have a very very high volume of rain, we will be in big trouble. We only have water during some hours each day already, but at least we still have water everyday.

But at least there is hope here; we can desalinate water from the sea that is about 70 km away, we can build rain water harvesting systems, we can clean the water from our poluted rivers, economy will suffer, people will have to adapt, but I do not think it will be mad max yet. While we may feel the drought effects sooner than California, we have doable ways to recover. I am sorry for you guys up there in Western USA. I hope it helps governments and people around the world to understand that societies have to be sustainable.

theanimal
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Re: Western USA Drought

Post by theanimal » Tue Mar 24, 2015 9:39 pm

For anyone interested in learning more about the background history of private/public water development out west and how they got themselves in the water predicament they're in today, I highly recommend checking out Cadillac Desert.

http://www.amazon.com/Cadillac-Desert-A ... 0140178244

cmonkey
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Re: Western USA Drought

Post by cmonkey » Wed Apr 01, 2015 2:36 pm

Mandatory water restrictions in California

http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-m ... tml#page=1

It's gonna be an interesting year.

jacob
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Re: Western USA Drought

Post by jacob » Wed Apr 01, 2015 2:45 pm

An interesting century.

Given that El Nino was declared in 12/2014 (which would help 2015 set another global heat record, like 1998), they might get some relief next year.

bigato
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Re: Western USA Drought

Post by bigato » Wed Apr 01, 2015 6:41 pm

About 105 cities in brazilian northweast are now considered to be in collapse and have water only through water trucks. And the rainy season just ended.

daBenjaminW
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Re: Western USA Drought

Post by daBenjaminW » Tue Jul 07, 2015 7:52 pm

I worked for the National Park Service for a few years and was involved in the new intake at Lake Mead. Living in that area, the most amazing part to me was the general lack of discussion related to falling lake levels. Nobody really seemed to take issue with the strategy, everyone just wanted to figure out how to build an intake structure below the existing intakes while waiting for an impending wet cycle (??) to refill the lake.

It sort of reminds me of my general thoughts on deficit spending in the U.S. Surely if we keep down our current path the environment we exist in will change in our favor (be it banking on rain or a stronger economy/more tax revenue).

I now live in a part of California where our significant water resources are exported to the southern part of the state. Grass is all dead and trees are dying...unless you go over to a wealthier suburb.

jacob
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Re: Western USA Drought

Post by jacob » Tue Jul 07, 2015 8:19 pm

@dBW - This kind of thinking is pervasive in practically all institutions. It's a kind of past-oriented third-party techno-optimism. "They will think of some technology; because so far so good". It's fundamentally extrapolating the near-past experience (for lack of further study/thinking) into the far-future. If I had to blame an MBTI personality type, I'd blame the SJ-type. It works all the way until it suddenly doesn't.

Expect society/most humans to operate on the "future = recent past trend" to dominate social behavior because SJs run our institutions (capitalism and democracy). IOW, uninformed trends persist at all levels. Form your strategy based on this.

Jean
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Re: Western USA Drought

Post by Jean » Wed Jul 08, 2015 4:25 am

I went on the official california drought website, and one of the drougth fighting tip was "don't water your lawn more than necessary".
Selbershuld.

jacob
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Re: Western USA Drought

Post by jacob » Thu Jul 16, 2015 8:27 pm

http://www.amazon.com/Water-Knife-novel ... 385352875/

Grapes of Wrath for the 21st century. Very dark.

George the original one
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Re: Western USA Drought

Post by George the original one » Fri Jul 17, 2015 11:43 am

Until further notice, Oregon and Washington have restricted fishing hours in streams & rivers. Salmon, trout, steelhead, & sturgeon fishing are off-limits after 2pm.

Essentially this temporary rule protects fish accidentally hooked from being killed by heat exhaustion. In practice, this will have little effect as fish usually aren't biting when the water is too warm.

Dragline
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Re: Western USA Drought

Post by Dragline » Fri Jul 17, 2015 1:55 pm

If I lived in the Southwest, I'd be looking for someplace else to live, long term, and would avoid actually owning any property.

As alluded to in some of the links above, the history of water distribution in the area is that some places are intentionally water-starved so that others can have more water. This is nothing new. When they start separating the winners and the losers again this time, its going to get ugly because the population is much larger. Expect lots of that Silicon Valley and other California cash to be heavily invested in keeping certain places watered to the expense of others. If you don't have lots of cash, you probably will be on the short end of this stick.

anomie
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Re: Western USA Drought

Post by anomie » Fri Jul 17, 2015 5:05 pm

Are Arizona and New Mexico included in this Western US drought situation?

Thank you. (They are on my to-visit, maybe retire to wish list..)

jacob
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Re: Western USA Drought

Post by jacob » Fri Jul 17, 2015 7:17 pm

California is the front line. Nevada and Arizona comprise the second line. Eventually (some time between 2050 and 2100), the area between and including California and the Central Great Plain states will more likely than not be fully enveloped in a megadrought (given business as usual; continuing the current emission trend lines).

Another problem is water from elsewhere. Anything touched by the Colorado River basin ... and possibly other rivers are governed by an intricate mish-mash of legacy water rights from a wetter time with fewer people giving a lot of senior rights to farmers. Of course now there are way more people and less water, so that will have to be ... "worked out" somehow. It's possible that junior right holders won't be satisfied with the suggestion to "just eat cake".

Third problem is that aquifers are being mined in an unsustainable manner as a temporary band-aid for the failure to solve the other two problems (population pressure and climate change) allowing politicians and utility companies to kick the can down the road for now.

TL;DR - Yes, definitely, but not yet to the same degree as California.

anomie
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Re: Western USA Drought

Post by anomie » Sat Jul 18, 2015 7:41 am

Thanks for the reply, Jacob.

One of the short videos at the top of this Weather.com link (an interesting, if ad-driven, series of topical videos on the western drought) mentions the chance of megadrought as well.

http://www.weather.com/climate-weather/ ... ght-states

New Mexico and Arizona are on this list.

Guess I will have to factor water shortage into my future retirement plans... :(

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