Powerless Water

February 19, 2015

dali - Gala molucules & atomsQuiet in the pre-dawn dark this early Thursday on California’s north coast — ground fog keeps everything muffled in a moist, chilled blanket, and although we’re supposed to be sunny today, it took awhile yesterday for sunshine to cut through the gray.
This close to the actual Pacific shoreline creates a weird bump sometimes in the weather. And we’re up a bit on a hill, nearly 150 feet above sea level, where fog and sunshine are at the whim-mercy of ocean winds — the outside environment can way-quickly shift on a breeze.

No turn here, though (via CBS): ‘A recent analysis from NASA satellite data concluded that the state would need 11 trillion gallons of water to recover from its three-year dry spell. That’s roughly equivalent to filling up Lake Meade, the U.S.’s largest reservoir, one and a half times.’

(Illustration: Salvador Dali’s, ‘Galatea of the Spheres,’ found here).

In a Sacramento meeting Tuesday, the State Water Resources Control Board pondered how to continue trying to get a handle on the crisis created by California’s now-four-year drought, and still maintain that required water level — the board appears ready to go beyond fines for over-watering lawns, or washing your car without a shut-off valve, to some serious shit, maybe, probably, eventually.
More per CBS:

“I find it galling when whole sets of water glasses end up on a (restaurant) table, even in Sacramento,” said Felicia Marcus, chairwoman of the board.
“The key is to get away from very light mandatory restrictions.”
The board has the sweeping power to define when water use is unreasonable, and it could eventually expand the definition to include using drinking water to maintain golf courses and cemeteries.
Marcus said the board would likely take smaller steps first, such as prohibiting decorative outdoor water fountains.

Some proposals presented Tuesday targeted businesses, such as requiring restaurants to only serve water on request and telling hotels not to automatically provide guests with fresh towels and sheets every day.
Some cities have similar rules already in place.
The board has considered making some water restrictions permanent with the prospect of future droughts looming.
“We definitely need permanent regulations,” said Frances Spivy-Weber, the board vice-chairwoman.
“I just don’t see how we can enter the next 30 years with climate change without them.”

Then get a move on…

As the drought continues, the lack of water creates in itself a kind of feedback loop — more energy needed to pump what water there is, usually from somewhere afar off. A little routine we all take for pure-granted is turning on a faucet and getting clean, fresh water bubbling right out, but don’t consider the energy used to get it there — ‘pumped through aqueducts and pipelines from mountain sources, reservoirs and the Colorado River, often far from Los Angeles, San Diego, the San Francisco Bay Area and the Central Valley, where most of the water is consumed.’
Yesterday from Climate Central:

That is severe drought’s dirty secret: As surface water sources dry up, groundwater becomes the resource of choice, requiring more electricity to pump it out of the ground than it takes to transport surface water, possibly threatening the state’s renewable energy goals.
“What we’re seeing is what I’d characterize as an increase in the energy required to develop large-scale water resources,” Kristen Averyt, associate director for science at the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences at the University of Colorado-Boulder, said.
Averyt’s research focuses on the “water-energy nexus,” the energy it takes to supply water to people.
The energy-water nexus is a major challenge in California and throughout the Southwest, where climate change is expected to make the region even more arid than it is today and possibly increase the risk of a megadrought lasting 35 years or more.
Such aridity could reduce the amount of water flowing in the Colorado River system, one of the Southwest’s most important water sources, and force cities to expend a lot more energy pumping groundwater.

The largest individual consumer of electricity in California is the State Water Project, the set of pumps and aqueduct system that sends water from Northern California to residents and farmers in Southern California.
Water-related energy use represents 19 percent of California’s electricity consumption, using 30 percent of the state’s natural gas and burning 88 billion gallons of diesel fuel annually, according to a 2014 Congressional Research Service report.
Up to 40 percent of a city’s government’s energy bill can be consumed by its water and wastewater treatment systems, and up to 13 percent of U.S. electric power use nationwide is water-related, the report says.
Across the West, about 20 percent of total electric power generation is used for supplying and heating water, including the region’s most energy-intensive water project, Central Arizona Project.
The CAP stretches 300 miles and climbs 3,000 feet in elevation before delivering Colorado River water to Phoenix.

Oh faucet, hydrate thyself…

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