Time the Showers

May 18, 2015

d7dfe440-98af-11e3-a20a-4197883a2af2_calif-terra-nasa-2014Thick-gray overcast this early Monday on California’s north coast, supposedly a rain-off-and-on episode this week, about 40 percent today, down to a ‘chance‘ rest of the time.

Rain/snow water is a major-major topic in California, but actually it’s more of a ‘tale of two droughts,’ as statewide reservoirs go dry, our own uniquely full Ruth Lake has enough water for three years without any rainfall.

Remember — three days without water you die.

(Illustration: NASA satellite image of California’s drought, early 2014, found here).

Yet more in the here-and-now, though, is the big-dollar water question: How much water does it take for me to take a shower — a decent shower? Earlier this month, the California Water Alliance (CalWA) challenged state residents to take showers in 5 minutes or less, which in reality of modern life, way-fast. Supposedly, five gallons of water down the drain each minute.
Seemingly, my showers are about 10 minutes, give or take a minute or two, or 10 gallons of water, or thereabouts. (Old level at 10 gallons for a 5-minute shower).
Although I’ve geared the pre-shower hot-water operation down to just prior to bathing — a monumental achievement as I do enjoy a warm bathroom, too, with steam and so forth.
Ironic guilt does spring — I used to live not far from East Porterville, down in Tulare County, where there’s no water, and future water is way-down yonder, if at all.
Water does divide, from a Guardian story last April on the situation:

Groundwater generally supplies most domestic uses in Tulare County, according to Lockman, the county’s emergency manager.
Both East Porterville and its sister city Porterville are dependent on such groundwater.
The key difference between the two cities is that Porterville has water, and East Porterville does not.

The divide between Porterville and East Porterville, and even between neighbors with city water or dry wells, has created an aura of anxiety.
There’s sniping between those trying to help, and bickering between neighbors.
The topic of water can be delicate even between family members.
Dalia Madrigal is a cashier at Hari’s Market, a Valero gas station and convenience store on one of East Porterville’s main thoroughfares.
Her house, which she rents with four other people including a two-year-old, hasn’t had water since July.
Her neighbor loaned the house a garden hose to provide running water, but she and her housemates are cautious about using it before 10pm.
“My brother lives over on the west side, and people are watering their plants over there,” Madrigal said.
“It’s not like you’re going to go, ‘Hey, we’re in a drought, could you please turn off your water?’”

Two droughts way-too-close together.

There’s recently been much in the social-media chatter on California’s ‘drought shaming,’ in attempts to reveal who are the water hogs. Down in SoCal, it’s movie stars, up here, it’s guys like me taking 10-minute-plus showers, and there’s no real accounting because there’s no regulations.
Via Mother Jones this morning:

Even though water agencies have precise data about every customer’s water usage, they no longer have an obligation to share this information with the public.
In 1997, state legislators voted to weaken an important open government law, the California Public Records Act.
The reason: Palo Alto city officials were concerned that tech executives’ personal information would be made public, as Reveal reported last month.
The move largely made individual and corporate water use private even though public agencies could have simply redacted the sensitive personal information—like home addresses and phone numbers—as they often do when releasing records.
Now, Californians are facing unprecedented water restrictions but they have no way to evaluate if these conservation measures are being implemented fairly where they live, or even if they are likely to be effective.
Without specific information about top water users, Californians who have been diligently ripping out their lawns and taking two-minute showers can’t know who among them could be undermining all their conservation efforts by blithely letting the tap flow.

Biting the hand that turns on the faucet.
The ultimate problem, of course, is there’s no solution because there’s no solution yet for what’s taking place — climate change.
Soon taps will dribble to a drop, then stop, and eventually, be filled with dust.
From Climate News Network, also this morning, in a piece focusing mainly on extreme weather and climate change, and this of our water woes:

Yusuke Satoh, of the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis, warned that under the notorious business-as-usual scenario, where nations ignore such warnings and just go on burning fossil fuels, 13 of 26 global regions would see “unprecedented hydrological drought levels” by 2050.
Some would see this parching much earlier — the Mediterranean by 2027, and the western US as early as 2017.

Those showers will be shorter, and shorter, and…

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