Doing the Right Thing

25 thoughts on “Doing the Right Thing”

  1. What is really fascinating is how this “problem” has just been shipped to China. With even looser regulations and nastier repercussions from the State and local elites when complainers become vocal.

    Unlike Americans, though, the Chinese tend to protest and riot more. And, unlike the United States, the Chinese at least occasionally make “examples” of their more nefarious tycoons.

  2. Story after story like this keeps surfacing. Dupont in Parkersburg, WV. The “Civil Action” case, involving Beatrice and Grace in Woburn, MA. The PG&E case in Hinkley, CA made famous in “Erin Brockovich”. The Central Valley cases (Stockton, Modesto…).

  3. This is already the second time wells come up in your postings. I am a bit surprised at how many homes in the US (not out in the boondocks, that is, but in semi-urbanized areas with good public amenities) apparently rely on a well. How common is it, really?

    And isn’t a well a huge liability anyhow? I would expect such homes to have very low values, on account of the uncertainty of their water supply.

    1. So I have to ask… where do you think the municipal authorities get their water in most places?

      Towns drill one big well and send the water out via pipes under the street. Any water supply system is only as good as the water source and the management of the infrastructure.

      If you live east of the Mississippi water tends to fall from the sky in a reliable manner and keeps the groundwater plumped up. Even in parts of California like Sonoma County there’s enough winter rain to recharge the aquifer and keep most wells wet through the long summer.

      I had a house in rural Hawaii for seventeen years and derived all the water for the house from rainwater off the roof. I stored it in three giant tanks. I never ran out.

      The towns along the Ohio and Mississippi River systems (most of the middle of the country) pump water out of the river, use it, treat the sewerage, then send the water back to the river for the next town to pump, use, and treat. By the time the water gets down to New Orleans it’s been drunk a dozen times.

      If you live in southern California, Phoenix, or Las Vegas you get your water from huge dams that capture melted snow from the mountains. After prolonged draughts when the Hoover Dam ran low Vegas bored a new tunnel to get the dregs from the bottom of the reservoir. There’s plans to drill an even deeper tunnel in the future if need be.

      Phoenix recycles its sewerage water and uses it to cool the Palo Verde nuclear plant out in the desert. (What could go wrong?) That supplies the city with electricity – not a small amount of which is used to pump water hundreds of miles uphill.

      The towns and cities from Nebraska to northern Texas all depend on the Ogallala aquifer. That’s fossil water from melted glaciers from the last Ice Age. Once it’s pumped up and turned in to corn and alfalfa it’s gone for good and those towns go dry.

      San Diego has junior water rights to the Colorado River water so it gets sloppy seconds compared to places like Los Angeles. San Diego has taken to using the waste heat from one of its power plants to desalinate water.

      It’s illegal to pump water out of streams and rivers or to collect rainwater off your roof in Colorado since every drop of water in the state is already allocated to people farther downstream who have legal claim to it.

      Pick your poison.

      1. Fyi. Colorado residents can now collect up to 110 gallons of rain.

        The colorado river is ridiculously oversubscribed. Interesting to see what happens someday when senior rights farmers and oil companies take on junior rights municipalities and their homeowners

      2. “It’s illegal to … collect rainwater off your roof in Colorado since every drop of water in the state is already allocated to people farther downstream who have legal claim to it.”
        That’s extreme! The rain off your own roof… isn’t yours?!

        1. I heard that firsthand at a water conference, in a speech by a Colorado Supreme Court justice. Not urban legend, and it’s for the reasons stated by Mcmike: all of it runs off to somewhere, and it’s all governed by interstate compact.

        2. Hah! I live in Germany and I have the opposite problem. I have to pay a rain tax based on the runoff from my property, to pay for the storm sewers.

      3. Hi Johnny, Of course in the end some of the water that is piped into municipal systems comes from aquifers and thus from wells, and I know how dire the situation is in much of the US. What surprises me is how common individual, single-house wells seem to be. A city like SF or LA has vastly more options if it runs into difficulties with one of its water sources; for one thing it seldom depends on a single source. But what can an individual well owner do if his well goes dry? Drill a deeper one, I guess. And if even that doesn’t work?

        Every time I see a single-house well mentioned I think of this poignant piece by David Yearsley about his mother’s house: and I shudder.

        1. There have been several articles in various media about the situation in the lower San Joaquin Valley. The counties there have allowed various “colonias” to be established by poor people-usually Latino or African American-who cannot afford to build in official urban areas according to “modern” standards. No utilities, wells for water, etc.

          With the recent long drought, many of these communities saw their water wells run dry. Exacerbated by industrial scale deep wells drilled by larger farmers to keep their orchards alive (perhaps also exacerbated by fracking, but the articles I read did not focus on that aspect)

        2. I grew up in ex-urban Nebraska (outside of Lincoln) and virtually everyone I knew there had a well and a septic pond/tank/field. West of the Mississippi, it’s pretty much de rigueur, excluding old municipal water tower districts.

  4. The book ‘Toms River: a Story of Science and Salvation’ covers one area where this happened. Appalling but probably more common than I want to believe.

    1. If by humanity and passion you mean sociopathic greed.

      Antisocial pathology is not humanity, it is an abberent behavior that exploits the humanity around it.

      It drags down everyone around itself, lowering the bar for whats acceptible

      1. Find me a society beyond the hunting and gathering clan (and even they engaged in constant warfare) not characterized by a good percentage of “antisocial pathology”.

        It is indeed a part of humanity. We are not innocent but quite violent social apes. Different societies emphasize different things, and ours seems particularly sociopathic, but that may be because we view it from inside.

        1. I have travelled a bunch and met a lot of people. And Im the kind of guy that goes in rough looking bars and also likes to talk to street people and cab drivers to hear their story.

          The vast majority of people i have met were good hearted, generous, and would probably jump in a rushing river to save a stranger.

          What they do when they get in groups leads to results that may very.

          1. Results may also vary.

            What i mean by my tangent about bars is just to say that my observation about the basic decency of people is universal.

            1. True. But these decent people (in groups as you note) often do nasty things. Especially when enabled by social traditions such as religion, in group versus out group politics (see “racism”), and economic pressures.

              It IS interesting that in casual contact, the nicest people are often street people/homeless.

      2. I would say you are classifying things too extremely. Human passions don’t require a pathology to exist. Traditionally the passions are gluttony, unchastity, avarice, anger, dejection, listlessness, self-esteem, pride and vainglory. We have those in spades in our society.

        1. Yes. I now understand your definition of passions as sins.

          My view is that all traits are within us (collectively). But they only become problematic (and pathological) when in excess and out of balance

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