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Re: How Los Angeles Can Become Water Independent

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How Los Angeles Can Become Water Independent
December 28, 2013 11:56PM
Published by Time Magazine:


As a nation, we dream of energy independence. But in Los Angeles, we wouldn’t dream of water independence. Our local groundwater resources, in this partial desert with Mediterranean weather, provide only 13 percent of what we need. State politics are now consumed with a proposal by the governor for another massive infrastructure project that will move more water, cost billions, and make us even more dependent.
Dr. Ken Murray is a physician who volunteers for the United States Forest Service and the City of Los Angeles. His volunteer activities in water quality led to his sharing in the 2011 United States Water Prize. He wrote this piece for Zocalo Public Square. The views expressed are solely his own.

Read more: How Los Angeles Can Become Water Independent | TIME.com http://ideas.time.com/2013/10/11/how-los-angeles-can-become-water-independent/#ixzz2oqfLkh2d

Edit: please do not post entire articles

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 12/29/2013 06:33AM by eeek.
avatar Re: How Los Angeles Can Become Water Independent
December 29, 2013 09:07AM
It makes too much sense. It will never happen. It's far easier to ruin the Delta, just like they ruined Mono Lake, than to do the right thing.
Re: How Los Angeles Can Become Water Independent
December 29, 2013 09:30AM
Dave, I understand your sentiment, it can be very discouraging at times.

However, I detect a tone of change in the air, with respect to public perceptions such as yours, and even among politicians and managers.

One major shift that I've detected is that when most water policy was first created, it was for the purpose of protecting people from water. Most don't know that drowning from floods was the major cause of death in Los Angeles around 1900. So infrastructure was created to deal with that, primarily through the technology of getting the rainwater to the ocean as fast as possible. They did that well, and the problem was solved.

But now we all look at water differently. And we have technology that allows us to utilize it in ways we never could before.

We also have wonderfully innovative thought-leaders, who have gone beyond thinking to actual implementation of superior techniques, such as the great innovator Brad Lancaster, in this short video on rainwater harvesting:


Through his efforts, he converted his city of Tuscon from one that discouraged the practice, to one that not only encourages it, but pays up to $2,000 to put water saving systems in a person's home.
avatar Re: How Los Angeles Can Become Water Independent
December 29, 2013 10:53AM
Water, and wars over it, have long been a part of Calif. history. Our water distribution "plan" is based on a bizarre pile of contracts, settlements, wars, court orders, and legislation. There was an area in the East Bay that had no water meters. I think they got some a few years ago, but for 50 years or more, they had free water. Our water "plan" is part of the problem.

You're right, things are changing.... but slowly. The local Indian casino, Chukchansi, uses recycled water for it's landscaping. I've notice a lot more of those purple pipes and fittings. I'm just skeptical about an area as large as the greater LA region changing. I hope I'm wrong though.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 12/29/2013 10:54AM by Dave.
Re: How Los Angeles Can Become Water Independent
December 30, 2013 11:16PM
Actually, LA is somewhat amazing, in this regard.

LA has the lowest per capita water usage of any large city in America.

In terms of total water usage, we use about the same amount as we used FORTY years ago, in spite of population increase.

Water seems always to be in the news, so there is a high awareness of water issues. I see changes in what individuals do at their homes in neighborhoods very frequently.....rainwater capture, removal of turf grass and use of native plants.

However, there are still amazing things that can be done that don't impact lifestyle....which I think is key. I think many people feel disempowered, because they don't know what is possible.
Re: How Los Angeles Can Become Water Independent
January 15, 2014 01:36PM
True they need to conserve the water they already have but even if that is done their thirst is much greater than that will add up to.

Murray >>>"So how can we wean ourselves on distant water? Desalination gets attention, but the energy costs are prohibitive."

Costs are only prohibitive to growth and development industries in Southern California, especially real estate corps. See if they have to figure in water costs for all the growth they want, it cuts their profits. All those expensive homes they hope to continue to build in those hilly dry chaparral lands. And they get to build them multiple times because they can count on them burning down every decade or three. Much easier to steal water from us in the north. Heck what do they care? By time they've passed the bag to the rest of us, they'll be relaxing in the air conditioned shade at some ritzy Palm Springs community.

What Southern California needs is MAJOR desalination or limit growth without taking someone else's water. Those growth and development interests ought to be paying for it directly instead of passing the bag to the rest of us. Were it not for the excessive amounts of water going south from Bakersfield, there would be enough ALREADY for corporate agriculture in the arid San Joaquin Valley areas. Regardless of how much water we send south growth industries will NEVER be satisfied. As it is ANY desalination is being fought by lawyers for those development interests and environmentalists with ridiculous monkey wrenching arguments. That is why it took SIX long years to get the below Carlsbad plant going. There are already plants on our planet producing 4 times what that can produce and others in construction double that. The powerful rich growth interests will continue to manipulate the media and politicians in order to prevent the public from even considering there is an alternative to changing their greedy game plan.


The largest desalination plant today, worldwide, is Jebel Ali Desalination Plant (Phase 2) in the United Arab Emirates. This dual purpose plant uses multi-stage flash distillation and is capable of producing 300 million cubic meters of water per year. (over 200,000,000 gallons per day.)


It will produce 50 million gallons of water per day and will provide 7% of the potable water needs for the San Diego region.


Edited 4 time(s). Last edit at 01/15/2014 01:43PM by DavidSenesac.
avatar Re: How Los Angeles Can Become Water Independent
January 17, 2014 09:34AM
I wonder if anyone has investigated the feasibility of combining solar power w/ conventional power desalinization plants? Ditto for offshore wind power. At the present rate of global population increase, fresh water needs are going to dictate that desalinization become an integral part of fresh water generation. As usual, it appears that the biggest players in the water utility industry are sitting on their hands when it comes to serious investigation into new technologies. The power utilities are not much better.

I don't expect either solar or wind generation to become a soul power source for any desalinization plants but it's going to have to play a part in the future, at least as an assist to the process. As a species we humans must rely on a number of dwindling natural resources. Fresh water is one of those and its solution lies in what covers 2/3 of the planet.
Re: How Los Angeles Can Become Water Independent
January 18, 2014 07:12AM
Behind California's January Wildfires: Dry Conditions, Stubborn Weather Pattern
The state is the driest it's been since the 1890s.

By Jane J. Lee
National Geographic
Published January 17, 2014

... Despite the voluntary restrictions on water use, California's residents shouldn't panic.

"The groundwater storage for southern California is still in pretty good shape," said Jackson [Mark Jackson, the meteorologist in charge for the National Weather Service's office near Los Angeles]. Officials build in a three-year buffer so that there is some protection against multiple dry years.

"But once we get past that third year, that's when we run into problems."

From Wikipedia:

... Groundwater is a critical element of the California water supply. During an average year, 40% of the state’s water supply comes from groundwater. In times of intense drought, groundwater consumption can rise to 60% or more.[3] Over 850,000,000 acre feet (1,050 km3) of water, enough to cover California to a depth of 8 feet (2 m) is stored in California’s 450 known groundwater reservoirs.[3] However, not all the water is usable. Over half of the groundwater is unavailable due to poor quality and the high cost of pumping the water from the ground. While surface water is concentrated mostly in the northern part of the state, groundwater is more evenly distributed.

The largest groundwater reservoirs are found in the Central Valley.[3] The majority of the supply there is in the form of runoff that seeps into the aquifer.

... Though California has laws governing surface water usage and quality, there exist no statewide groundwater management laws. Each groundwater basin is individually adjudicated to determine water rights.[4] Otherwise, for all practical purposes, land ownership implicitly carries the right to virtually unlimited groundwater pumping.

The large quantity of water beneath the surface has given rise to the misconception that groundwater is a sort of renewable resource that can be limitlessly tapped. While the volume of groundwater is very large, aquifers can be over drafted when groundwater is removed more rapidly than it is replenished.

Re: How Los Angeles Can Become Water Independent
January 20, 2014 10:35AM
This issue of groundwater overdraft, causing subsidence (lowering of the land)

Here is a picture of the greatest lowering in the US:


The sad thing about it, is that such lowering is PERMANENT, such that the capacity of the land to absorb and store water is lost for eternity.
Re: How Los Angeles Can Become Water Independent
March 31, 2014 12:11AM
California Drought: San Joaquin Valley sinking as farmers race to tap aquifer
By Lisa M. Krieger
Posted: 03/29/2014 01:28:19 PM PDT

... "Everybody is starting to panic," said Arthur, whose Fresno-based well-drilling company just bought its ninth rig, off the Wyoming oil fields. "Without water, this valley can't survive."

When water doesn't fall from the sky or flow from reservoirs, there's only one place to find it: underground. So, three years into a devastating drought, thirsty Californians are draining the precious aquifer beneath the nation's most productive farmland like never before, pitting neighbor against neighbor in a perverse race to the bottom.

The rush to drill is driven not just by historically dry conditions, but by a host of other factors that promote short-term consumption over long-term survival -- new, more moisture-demanding crops; improved drilling technologies; and a surge of corporate investors seeking profits for agricultural ventures.

Now those forces are renewing an age-old problem of environmental degradation: Decades ago, overpumping sunk half of the entire San Joaquin Valley, in one area as much as 28 feet. Today new areas are subsiding, some almost a foot each year, damaging bridges and vital canals.

Re: How Los Angeles Can Become Water Independent
April 03, 2014 10:02AM
Hey, I know Lisa Krieger! Great reporter, did a great series on end of life issues and her own family.
Re: How Los Angeles Can Become Water Independent
April 22, 2014 09:41PM
California Edging Closer to Regulating Groundwater for the First Time
Craig Miller, KQED Science | April 22, 2014

We hear a great deal about California’s reliance on its “frozen reservoir,” a reference to the (currently anemic) Sierra snowpack. We hear a lot less about the Golden State’s invisible reservoir, the water that resides in underground aquifers beneath our feet.

That’s about to change. Today, state Sen. Fran Pavley (D-Agoura Hills) puts a trio of water conservation bills before her Natural Resources and Water Committee, the centerpiece of which (SB 1168) is a frontal assault on the management of California’s groundwater, which, compared to other western states, is almost unregulated.

The current drought appears to be putting a new level of pressure on the groundwater debate. Cutbacks in state and federal water allocations have unleashed a drilling frenzy for water wells, and parts of the San Joaquin Valley are actually sinking from groundwater depletion below.

“The single most critical element in achieving [water] sustainability in California is groundwater,” Lester Snow told members of the State Water Resources Control Board at a hearing last week. Snow would know. For years he was the state’s chief water manager and now heads the relatively new California Water Foundation, a non-profit devoted, as he describes it, to “achieving sustainable water management” in the state.

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