Water crisis out west. AZ,CO,CA and NV

I’m a lifelong Midwesterner, and I never heard of these until I saw this program. I just thought they were natural ponds.

Or TL : DW

Yeah, it is not perfect, just better.

Have Ag stop wasteful water usage, and start working on water reclamation.

Not many Californians live in the desert. SoCal is pine, oak, shrub and chaparral .

Not to worry, “warmer place to live” is actually coming to you instead.

It’s not so much willful blindness that is causing problems, as a cowardice in refusing to deal with the political fallout from actually doing something concrete to cut back on people’s water use - especially farmers, it seems.

A good analogy might be with the current oil supply - “the world is going to bake, boil us like frogs in a warming pot, and kill billions” is not a good reason to switch to renewable energy, but “OMG, gas is close to $5 a gallon” is now suddenly a really good reason to explore alternative energy options.

Actually, it’s one of the most environmentally friendly ways to get minerals. The water from the geothermal plants is pumped back underground. So the lithium extraction can be done between generating power and the return to ground. There are other minerals in that water that might be extractable too.

The alternative* is to dig some big open pit mines in northern Nevada/southern Oregon. The mines will requires more water than is available on the surface, so they would be extracting it from underground. The mines will mess up the environment there, especially that of the sage grouse, which breeds in the area where they want to dig.

*They’ll probably end up doing both, unfortunately.

Well, the map in your link is of little use, as it shows LA/SD as “urban”! :wink: And I suggest that as far as water availability goes, chaparral is likely little more use than desert when it comes down to accommodating 20 million people - or growing water intensive crops such as almonds.

Haven’t looked at any biome maps, but I’ve visited Phoenix and Las Vegas. Really astounds me that folk assume such hostile environments ought to be able to comfortably house millions of people.

I’m an avid golfer, and I assume most golf courses rely heavily on reclaimed water, but it really jars me when I see those green jewels surrounded by desert. In politics, they often talk about “the appearance of impropriety.” Well, desert golf courses really “appear improper” to my eye.

Copying from my post here:

According to this, a bushel of corn requires about 3000 gallons of water, which works out to $390 worth of water if you’re pumping it through pipelines just 100 miles long.

I don’t know where corn sits on the water usage scale - it sounds like almonds are at the top end - but pumping water halfway across the country would be prohibitively expensive.

Kinda related - last month, my wife brought home some corn on the cob. It was not ridiculously expensive. I wondered what part of the southern hemisphere it came from, but when I looked at the label, it said product of US. I do not believe it specified a state.

Just wondering from up her in the middle of corn country IL - where in the US and under what conditions is corn able to be grown to be harvested in early spring?

I disagree with this. Agriculture uses WAY more water than urban uses. As I mentioned in the other thread, people living in cities will be more than happy to have some distant orchards removed from the water equation long before they have to start using the old “If it’s yellow, let it mellow. If it’s brown, flush it down” technique. And the value of urban real estate in CA is such that it dwarfs the value of farmland - so no one is giving up their suburban home yet if there is water to be found elsewhere.

Industrial, residential, and recreational (golf courses) are not really the problem with water out west - a modest reduction in acreage of irrigated pasture, alfalfa, and tree nuts is probably all that would be necessary to ensure the limited (and shrinking) supply of water is enough to meet everyone’s needs for quite a while, and keep farmers of other high-value crops destined for domestic consumption (as opposed to export) in business.

Here is a good article on water usage by crop in California:

Here is another useful article with more data and graphs:

Average annual rainfall in Los Angeles - 16 inches. Average annual rainfall in San Diego - 12 inches. Average annual rainfall in Riverside - 11 inches.

Compare that to Dallas (36 inches); Atlanta (47 inches), and even Kansas City (42 inches).

Just because the shoulders of I-5 aren’t littered with cattle skulls doesn’t mean there’s enough water for 20 million people.

I’m not a farmer but I do live in South Texas in an area with lots of farms. The typical crops I see are corn / wheat / sorghum in the first half of the planting season, and cotton in the second half. The first half harvest is usually in June and the second half harvest is usually in September / October.

Around here it comes from Florida. Georgia also grows sweet corn.

In south Florida, sweet corn is grown September through May, often with the Everglades area out of production during part of December and January. Production proceeds into central and northern areas with the increased temperatures of spring and summer. Sweet corn grown in the state matures in roughly 75 to 90 d.

Technically these are semi-arid areas (10"< for a true desert vs 10-20" for semi-arid), as opposed to the Mojave desert inland from them which gets 3.5" to 10" in a few spots depending on elevation. This is pretty comparable to some parts of Southern Italy and Southern Spain, which have similar Mediterranean climates.

Not sure where you get 12" for San Diego—it’s closer to 10" (https://www.sdcwa.org/your-water/reservoirs-rainfall/rainfall/, click on 55-year data table) and even that is measured at the airport, down by the water—inland parts of the city are drier, and do average (just) under 10".

From that link Kent_Clark posted from wikipedia and I copied :slight_smile:. I have started underlining those sometimes these days as folks with mobiles seem to have a harder time picking out short blue text links in a paragraph, but since I just copied it I left the formatting the same.

Great - thanks. I guess I didn’t think of the SE as a corn producer, and was trying to compare “winters” to the midwest growing season.

I’ve taken to rendering links in boldface type to make them more conspicuous. So instead of 12 inches, you see 12 inches. Quick work on a full keyboard: copy your link from wherever, highlight the reader-friendly text in your post, then CTRL+B, CTRL+K, CTRL+V, <enter>.

The problem is that legislative representatives are geographically allocated, and the ones for less urban areas are quite vocal about protecting farms. Perhaps as the population shift increases those representatives will be drowned out. Plus many politicians have nostalgic hard-ons for the “family farm” of old tradition. After all, even the feds pump billions into supporting the farming business, especially the party that touts “free market” as the end all and be all of economic dogma. (Here in Canada we do the same, and are subject to regular American attacks over our protectionist measures because we try to exclude milk and other products heavily subsidized by the US government.)

As I posted earlier, a problem I read about California farmers is that some are heavily incentivized to not be more water efficient because if they did manage to cut back, they lose that part of their quota for all time. Plus, during a drought an excess supply quota might get reduced to a manageable supply but an adequate supply would get reduced to an inadequate supply.

Add to that over the last decade there were regular scares about vegetables contaminated with e coli because many market garden farms were next door to cattle farms and shared the same irrigation canals.

But yes, the problem is that if the agriculture is not sustainable in that climate then… it’s not.

Add to this that rainfall in Southern California is only in winter. Usually, from April through October it is dry as a bone.

Same for the Sacramento Valley, where we grow rice. California is the nations 2nd largest producer of rice, most from the Sacramento area

I thank EDOK9Trainer for the link. It was very, very informative. I post the following excerpt because it breaks my heart to see that, yet again, the true native Americans are being absolutely trashed in all of this.

The Colorado River, source of water for 40 million people in the Southwest, flows through the Arizona desert just a few miles from Lena Haskey’s house. Haskey, a member of the Navajo Nation, gets none of it.

Haskey’s home, a one-room octagon at the base of a striated rocky rise, has no running water at all. The five-gallon camp shower she and two grandnieces use to bathe — a plastic bag hanging from the ceiling just inside her entryway — is filled with groundwater. That water comes from a communal well 10 miles away, where Haskey, 66, pumps it into barrels that she ferries home in her Dodge minivan.

“We are living without water for a long time,” Haskey, who built the house in Bitter Springs with her father in 1974, said matter-of-factly.

As much as 40 percent of Navajo Nation residents have no indoor plumbing, the result of decades of marginalization by states and the federal government, as well as a lack of water delivery infrastructure and money to build it.

I haven’t checked but I suspect corn is grown in every state of the union except maybe Alaska just not in mega-quantities like, say, Iowa.

I was in southeastern Arizona for the weekend and noticed most of the alfalfa fields have been replaced by wheat, which needs a lot less water. It’s a hybrid, Desert Durum, and the majority of it is exported to Italy where they love to make pasta from it. A little is made into whiskey.