Drought and “Social Engineering”

5 thoughts on “Drought and “Social Engineering””

  1. Johnny, Have you read Mark Reisner’s “Cadillac Desert”? Reisner covers the western USA water situation in detail. He notes that, after the 1970s, nearly all the good locations for dams in California have been utilized.
    Ground water storage could be done more, but many basins are polluted with toxic chemicals and those projects do not use near as much concrete as a dam or aqueduct. And Federal money, that built in whole or part, most of the large water systems was reduced to a small fraction of the 1930s-1960s.
    California is never going to “run out” of water, but to keep building more tract homes on cul-de-sacs requires more than is currently available.
    Of course the Merced river could be dammed filling Yosemite Valley, but there might be some small resistance to that.

    1. We don’t have a physical problem with water. We have a cultural problem. Grady Gammage Jr. in Phoenix, Arizona describes the situation best. We have to make trade offs. https://islandpress.org/books/future-suburban-city The arid West could expand its population with twice as many single family homes on cul-de-sacs, but at the cost of eliminating agricultural production. The population could double with apartment and condo infill development within the existing urban footprint which would require far less water than single family homes. But then the water requirements would be “hardened” since there would no longer be any slack in the supply and demand equation compared to agricultural demand which is more flexible. Population growth could halt entirely, but that would have economic ramifications. Pick your poison. What we’re getting is a random all-of-the-above smattering.

  2. Reminds me of that famous ’70s California catchphrase: if it’s brown, flush it down, if it’s yellow, let it mellow.

    I was wondering where that bizarre court case came from. Of course, California water usage and rights, especially for agriculture, has been irrational for decades. Growing low value water thirsty crops like Alfalfa in a desert? Sure, why not.

    Of course, as agriculture are the bulk users, ultimately conservation will have to come from there But probably only after being forced to pay something closer to the real cost of delivery.

  3. Your friend was right. Each of us is responsible. (Except, apparently, in San Juan Capistrano.) JUST got the water-saving shower head? Hmmm. Another way to save mucho water on showers is to turn the water down to a dribble while you’re shampooing your hair, soaping up, shaving, just using it for wetting down and rinsing. You can run the water for about a minute total if you care enough. We all want to luxuriate in the water that isn’t there, though.

  4. With you 100%. I made all those water saving mods to my house a couple years ago. I’m sympathetic to libertarians, but if there’s anything that government needs to strictly regulate (and incentivize), it’s California’s water supply.

    One quibble with your article though: with the notable exception of the far southeastern part of the state (e.g. Palm Springs), California is most definitely not a desert. Instead, it has a classic Mediterranean climate: http://www.mednscience.org/mediterranean_ecosystem.

    Speaking of which, large populations have flourished in this dry-ish climate around the Mediterranean for millennia. How do they do it? Well, they sure as hell don’t have lawns in traffic medians with sprinklers watering the sidewalk in the middle of the day! Cities are naturally located near rivers and/or have intricate aqueduct systems. Everything really is drought tolerant by default – the landscaping, the cuisine, the crops that are planted, etc. That’s California’s future.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.