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California drought

Written By: - Date published: 11:40 am, April 3rd, 2015 - 47 comments
Categories: capitalism, class war, climate change, global warming, us politics - Tags: , ,

For some completely unknown and inexplicable reason, California is in the grips of a massive drought:

California restricts water as snowpack survey finds ‘no snow whatsoever’

Governor Jerry Brown orders unprecedented and mandatory water regulations on residents to reduce statewide water use as drought stretches into fourth year

The governor of California has ordered unprecedented and mandatory water restrictions in the state as officials conducted a regular measurement of the Sierra Nevada snowpack and found “no snow whatsoever” amid the state’s ongoing drought.

“This was the first time in 75 years of early-April measurements at the Phillips snow course that no snow was found there,” the California Department of Water Resources said in a statement on Wednesday at the conclusion of a survey attended by the Governor Jerry Brown. It said readings from Wednesday put the state’s level of water content at just 5% of the historical average for the date.

“Today’s survey underscores the severity of California’s drought,” said DWR director Mark Cowin. “Water conservation must become a way of life during the worst drought in most Californians’ lifetimes.”

But these water restrictions are not going to be applied universally:

Drought-Stricken California Exempts Big Oil and Big Ag from Mandatory Restrictions

The April 1 snowpack assessment in California, which set an all-time record for lowest snowpack levels in the state’s history, finally spurred Governor Brown’s office to issue an executive order to residents and non-agricultural businesses to cut water use by 25 percent in the first mandatory statewide reduction in the state’s history.

But some groups have been exempted from the water restrictions, specifically big agriculture, which uses about 80 percent of California’s water, and oil companies. Democracy Now! discussed on their show today the new mandates and the implications of exempting some of the biggest water users in the state.

This is how the consequences of climate change are going to play out. The effects will hit poorer countries hardest. In the rich countries the effects will hit ordinary people first. Big business will protect itself for as long as it can.

california-drought

47 comments on “California drought”

  1. These water restrictions are the proverbial drop in the bucket. We can’t save Big Business AND the world. One or the other is going to give.

    In particular “Turns out, 80% of California’s water goes to agriculture. Its most heavily irrigated crop, the one using the most water, is alfalfa. Humans, of course, don’t eat alfalfa (though it does make a good herbal tea).” Clue: livestock animals do.

    http://www.planetnatural.com/agricultural-water-use/

    Good luck to all of us!

    • weka 1.1

      “We can’t save Big Business AND the world. One or the other is going to give.”

      + millions.

      Let’s not forget that California is one of the places that takes so much water out of the natural water shed that some rivers no longer reach the sea.

      http://environment.nationalgeographic.com/environment/photos/rivers-run-dry/#/freshwater-rivers-colorado-1_45140_600x450.jpg

      (in NZ, we also now have rivers that don’t reach the sea).

      • Matthew Hooton 1.1.1

        What are our rivers that don’t reach the sea?

        • Skinny 1.1.1.1

          She probably means they dry up in summer ‘not helped’ by being emptied by irrigation systems for farmers and horticulture. East Coast, Hawkes Bay, Canterbury, probably Southland in a bad summer. Northland too.

          • weka 1.1.1.1.1

            Yep. The ones I’ve been told about are South Canty/North Otago.

            It’s probably not that obvious where you live Matthew, but in the eastern SI at least there’s been major issues with low river flow this year, and there are ongoing issues that are putting everything at risk. As CC kicks in we are fucking with the water supply via massive irrigation (and now they’re starting to talk about daft things like damming the alpine water).

            http://www.stuff.co.nz/environment/64583134/Trout-rescued-from-low-rivers

            http://www.stuff.co.nz/timaru-herald/news/64750372/Rescue-mission-as-rivers-run-dry

            http://www.3news.co.nz/nznews/video-trout-rescued-as-canterburys-rivers-dry-up-2015011316

            The big problem with those links is that they only make a cursory connection with irrigation, and no connection with CC.

            I don’t know what the state of this is now, but bear in mind that while farms have meters on their water take, the councils historically haven’t been measuring them to see if the farms are taking more than they are allowed.

            The other thing to bear in mind is that when the water table drops near the coast, the interface between fresh water and seawater moves inland ie you get salination of the water table moving inwards.

            The whole thing is a bloody mess, and while councils do all sorts of things, they’re not to my knowledge working on this ecologically. It’s all piecemeal and largely focussed on commerce albeit now with a nod towards not fucking up the environment too badly. This is a crazy approach at the best of times, but completely stupid in the face of CC.

            • Draco T Bastard 1.1.1.1.1.1

              +1

              The drive for profit is destroying us.

            • ropata:rorschach 1.1.1.1.1.2

              The Taieri Plains in Central Otago used to be a giant wetland but the locals decided to drain it and turn it into a giant dustbowl supporting 5 sheep per hectare

              Now they are grizzling about a massive drought

              • Corokia

                Ropata, the Taieri plains aren’t in Central Otago, you are correct that wetlands have been drained though. It is close to Dunedin and historically had a few dairy farms for town milk supply. There are more now and they take as much water as the ORC will let them. They had their water takes cancelled in summer and they howled. The Maniatoto & Ida Valley are in Central and along with the Mackenzie country and Hakataramea Valley are dryland areas that have massive irrigation schemes to run big dairy farms. Its an ecological disaster, completely the wrong activity for those areas.

                • weka

                  I think Ropata is talking about further up the Taieri, where it is very dry and where like most other places they’ve seriously damaged the ecoystem and now that the water is tight they find they’re screwed. One of the sheep farmers half way up was in the media recently talking about how dry it is.

                  • Corokia

                    Sure, but thats not the plains, which are 10km from the coast. And here in coastal Otago there has been some rain, about 100mm in Feb and March. Totally in agreement re concern about overuse of water for big dairy, just looked like ropata was geographically challenged, guessing they are not from down here.

                    • ropata

                      The Upper Taieri was the former wetland I was thinking of (there’s also a Strath Taieri and Taieri Plain to keep things interesting!)

                      I’m not a local but I did the rail trail recently and it’s almost a desert down there.

        • joe90 1.1.1.2

          Mid-summer the Turakina, Rangitikei, Orua and Manawatu are stinking messes and around 80% of the Whanganui is diverted all year round.

          http://www.horizons.govt.nz/managing-environment/resource-management/water/low-flow-restrictions-summary/

        • Skinny 1.1.1.3

          Since you have graced us with your presence what is with this talk that ACT see Labour as a future coalition partner? Have you been filling Seymour’s head with crossing the floor?

        • RedBaronCV 1.1.1.4

          Try driving over those big bridges over the rivers south of Christchurch. Once you could see where the spring water high had laid grass and small vegetation flat. Now when you look there is none of that and there is vegetation in those rivers beds that is 10-12 years old and has clearly never had the high water flood to wash it away. Who knows what the aquifers under the rivers are like.

        • vto 1.1.1.5

          opihi oaro selwyn

          many many

          you really do need to get out mr hooton

  2. Bill 2

    I read that Guardian report last night. Two things struck me.

    1. The 75 year low claim kind of obscures the fact that measurements have only been taken for 75 years and so the low may be a 100 or 200 or 500 year low…that it’s at best a 75 year low.

    2. And something I’m noticing more and more, is that articles are routinely throwing in statements on how science can’t definitely pin events to AGW, thus allowing people to ‘shrug and carry on’…it’s all normal and nothing too much to worry about. It’s not quite dishonest reporting – if scientific probabilities are understood, which isn’t generally the case – but it is grossly misleading and irresponsible to my way of thinking.

    Not being all scientific report criteria careful about it…

    The atmosphere has been altered. The composition of the atmosphere, with particular reference to CO2 etc, determines climate. Climate produces weather parameters. The parameters have shifted because the atmosphere has been changed, therefor every weather event (benign or catastrophic) is as a result of AGW.

    • Kiwiri - Raided of the Last Shark 2.1

      Ah.

      Btw it took me half a second to wonder what AGW might be (Anthropogenic Global Warming).

    • RedLogix 2.2

      Bill,

      I appreciate your underlying sentiment here, but the reality is that the Sierra snowpack (which is a large portion of the available water in California) is a fairly noisy number. Here’s a couple of links from the long-distance hiking community on the topic:

      http://www.guthookhikes.com/2015/02/2015-high-sierra-snow-pack.html

      http://distancehiking.com/blog/sierra-nevada-snow-pack/

      Overall it does look like the snowpack levels since 2011 have been pretty low, but then 2011 was exceptionally high. And going back to say 1991 there a year with levels not too dissimilar to the last few. Local snow fall is complex phenomenon sensitive to all kinds of influences – and this inherently makes the data noisy.

      There core problem here is that while this information is consistent with AGW altering the climate – at the same time by itself does not necessary reach a level of statistical confidence that might normally be claimed as evidence for the same. It’s the kind of data that lies in a sort of evidential limbo – neither dis-proof, nor proof.

      It’s a subtle but important distinction that’s hard to convey to a public who like to think only in binary black or white terms.

  3. I wonder how California get an inventory of their ground water resource. In New Zealand, it is the responsibility of the Regional Councils to do that. Their ground water staff are a mix of hydro-geologists who have to monitor the state of the ground water resource but also understand how the geology of the land affects spatial distribution of it.

    California is largely reliant on the hydrology of its central valley for water, which puts huge pressure on the Sacramento and other rivers. It shouldn’t be a surprise that the Cone of Depression for large parts of the valley is now likely to be really big and drawing on water not even physically in the soil strata of the catchment.

    This is not so much about climate change, though that certainly has not helped, as it is about the simple fact California’s water use far exceeds what is made available by recharge and so forth. It is not sustainable. It is as simple as that.

  4. humPrac 4

    THE SOLUTION

    Emergency measures can and must be taken by the federal government to bring immediate relief to parched land and people. Farmland, and the nation’s food supply must be saved. Intermediate and long term solutions must be set into motion now, including an FDR-style mobilization to build NAWAPA XXI.

    Build NAWAPA XXI

    Bring an additional 160 million acre feet of fresh water per year (MAFY) from Alaska and Northern Canada to the parched U.S. Western States, Canadian Prairie States, and northern Mexico, potentially doubling arable farmland.
    – Bring 22 MAFY to California (7 trillion gallons/year).
    – Bring 14 MAFY to Texas (4.5 trillion gallons/year).
    NAWAPA XXI and supporting infrastructure would create anywhere from 4–8 million new productive jobs over the project’s estimated 15–20 year completion time.
    Initial water distribution via the Humboldt Extension into North/Central California could be online within 10 years.

    Desalination

    Construction can begin immediately on 40 nuclear desalination plants, each desalinating 150 million gallons per day, adding 6.7 MAFY of water to the overall system.
    Coastal desalination will provide for cities and industry, offset demands on limited water for agriculture, and solve the problem of saltwater intrusion into coastal aquifers.

    Cancel Fracking and Biofuels

    The practice of “fracking” wastes precious water and must be canceled immediately. Construction of nuclear power stations will provide more than adequate electricity to supply the country’s energy needs.
    Production of all biofuels must also be immediately cancelled, ensuring that agricultural land goes to food production. Corn and other water intensive crops are important feedstocks for livestock and should not be burned for low-grade fuel.

    http://archive.larouchepac.com/node/30001

    • NickS 4.1

      Lyndon LaRouche cultist detected, charging deathrays…

      More info: http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Lyndon_LaRouche

      Short version – highly nutty political cult that exploits its members for profit. Luckily, so far they’ve failed to infiltrate the Democrats, let alone have a big impact on US politics, other than to be laughed at.

  5. alwyn 5

    Yes, lets divert all the water to other uses.
    I suggest you have a look at the disasters that doing that on a large scale can cause.
    An easy place to start is the Aral Sea. Have a look at this for a starter.
    http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/Features/WorldOfChange/aral_sea.php

    You also want to cut out fracking.
    Here is one estimate of the amount of water used in fracking in the USA
    http://theenergycollective.com/jessejenkins/205481/friday-energy-facts-how-much-water-does-fracking-shale-gas-consume
    As the summary says
    “Summary: All shale gas wells drilled and completed in the United States in 2011 consumed on the order of 135 billion gallons of water, equivalent to about 0.3 percent of total U.S. freshwater consumption.”
    Irrigating golf courses is estimated to use 0.5% and irrigation of crops uses about 243 times as much as fracking.

    • Jim 5.1

      water is everywhere you want to drill- even the desert. all you need is a council permit. oh wait- they are only issuing permits for water to Nestle. Do the math fools- every shortage is artificially created by those who wish to monetise something- the bankers.

  6. Nestle are not helping

    The company’s reputation may be at even greater risk in California, whose severe drought is in its fourth year. The Courage Campaign has organized an online petition, with more than 40,000 signatures so far, that demands Nestlé Waters stop bottling H2O during the drought. There are several local protests, too.

    http://blogs.reuters.com/breakingviews/2015/04/02/nestle-wades-into-purest-form-of-water-risk/

    Bottled water – I’m sure that is one of the lesser signs of the apocalypse.

    • Jim 6.1

      dude- Nestle and the other Vatican owned Global corporates are DOING it . and all for profit as per usual. research HAARP- certified by the US military.

  7. The run up to the last extinction event, took something like 10,000 years to get to where we have managed to get to in maybe 250 – 300 years, – 403ppm CO2 and nearly 2. CH4, which could be 200 times worse than CO2 = 400 ppm CO2e.
    Never before has there been 10,000 years worth of CH4 trapped, or ready to convert, just sitting maybe a few more degrees worth of Arctic warming below the surface of the East Siberian Arctic Shelf (as the ‘biggie’) + all the stuff sitting off the coast of many countries, and trapped in lake ice etc
    Not sure on this but – never before has Greenland been so covered in heat sucking ash from the massive bush fires, it only takes a little bit of summer melt for all the ash to be exposed, they might have to start calling the place Greyland.
    An ice free Arctic this summer will see more methane ‘volcanoes’
    There was a 2.6 ppm ‘local’ reading of CH4 in January somewhere(?), and they say this is the quite time? Current global average = 1.86 ish?
    “The end times are going to be horrific, but just prior, John Key and his mates will be able to make huge profits”

    • johnm 7.1

      “Last Hours”: Scientists share their research findings and concern on this issue:


      Thank you Thom Hartmann and all the crew. Someone has to tell the world what’s really going on.
      I’m trying, and will keep on trying till my last breath, to find a soft spot, a hole, a secret passage, a plan or whatever I can come up with to get Mass Media to start telling the scientific facts and the current time line of Abrupt Climate Changes.
      Stop the debates; there is no debate but the ones created by mass marketers to make a few more bucks while others blindly plunder what’s left for Planetary Survival. ”

      ” The human species is here for a good time; not for a long time. It is 100% certain we will become extinct sometime in the future. Cockroaches and ants will continue on, long after we’ve all perished. No doubt, there will be a pod drifting somewhere in outer space containing the frozen remains of the world’s richest man. All the money in the world will not buy our survival. All the money in the world is actually just down payments for our hastened extinction. “

      • johnm 7.1.1

        ” The party is still going-on up in the first-class lounge, and the band is playing a gay tune, though the guests are having increasing trouble staying on their feet as the list keeps increasing. First-class women and children are already boarding the first lifeboats, meanwhile, below decks, the 99% are still being held captive behind the fence while the crew lies to them and tells them to keep working until their lifeboats are ready. Up on the bridge the Captain knows full well that disaster is imminent and yet has made the decision to tell as few of the passengers as-possible seeking to prevent a mass panic and another massive financial meltdown, but mainly to protect his own backside and those of the first-class passengers too. How much longer can it last before the bow dips beneath the waves and the once grand plans of wealth and power as well as 8 billion poorly-informed people slip away forever? Amazing that the disaster could have been prevented if just some of us hadn’t been so greedy.”

  8. Snip –
    Forget Climate Change And Methane Just For A Second!!!

    01) Right now, 1 billion people walk over a mile each day for water.
    02) By 2025, 66% of humanity will be short of water.
    03) We must grow more food in 50 years than we grew in 500 years.
    04) We need 6 million hectares of new farmland every single year to do it.
    05) But, we lose 12 million hectares every year to soil degradation and loss.
    06) At this rate, earth only has 60 years of farming left.
    07) We passed world peak production of wheat, soy, corn and fish in 2006.
    08) Our crop and pasture lands caused 80% of land vertebrate extinctions.
    09) In 10 years the killing for food and water starts big time.
    10) GMO MONOCROP LIVESTOCK AGRIBUSINESS IS A SUPRA-NATIONAL SECURITY THREAT.

    We use 10 calories of fossil fuel to grow 1 calorie of food while,
    we sit on our asses and twaddle and twit the day away.
    It’s not about internet fame.
    It’s about brother farmland brother for farmland in Burundi
    It’s about cattle rustling and fishermen-pirates on the Horn of Africa.
    It’s about Thai fishing boat slavers.

    Nature doesn’t care who’s to blame or if,
    noble savages are worse than chimps or if,
    hunter gatherers are as peaceful as Bonobos or,
    how far you got your head up Buddha’s ass.

    Get your Collapse Data Cheat Sheet here!

    Collapse Data Cheat Sheet from collapse

    • Jim 8.1

      yeah dude- just like we are all going to run out of oil like 30 years ago, and climate change was supposed to have killed us all 15 years ago. and supposed to be no fish left 20 years ago. and meteors destroyed us 50 years ago etc etc. pull head out of @#$% you mindless fools- all of these “studies” are government/ vatican funded crap, just like the religions- designed to mislead and create fair among the sheep/ lamb of god.

  9. Jim 9

    Every “shortage” on this planet is artificially created by those who seek to monetise everything (the Global banking cartel) . We live in a World of abundance – water is everywhere (under the Earth surface) – all you need do is drill- anywhere- even in the desert. The entire planet’s population could be housed in NZ and it would as densely populated as Manhattan (ie, apartment living) with enough food to feed everyone grown on the outlying Islands alone (if not on apartment rooftops).
    Agenda 21- the UN/Vatican agenda to kill off billions of people while hiding behind an artificial “green agenda” is nothing short of genocide and needs to be exposed, not encouraged by brainwashed morons who are incapable of doing any real/ independent research. eg) water can be welled anywhere on the planet, more than enough for everyone, as long as the fascist councils will give you a “permit” – which they of course will not- as they are ALL controlled by the fascist vatican run UN – the biggest gang of genocidal maniacs and liars in the history of mankind- Helen Clark included.

  10. RedLogix 10

    “The biotic pump theory shows that natural forests are indispensable if we want to have rainfall, and, consequently, agriculture on the land where we live. This scientific message has important economic implications,” Gorshkov and Makarieva say. “First of all, people and governments worldwide should realize that economic growth cannot occur at the expense of cutting forests either in one’s own country or elsewhere. It is undermining the very pillars of our civilization’s existence. When water and food security are at stake, it is not possible for forest industries to focus on growth, just to increase the global production of wrapping and toilet paper. This should be the main topic of environmental campaigns.”

    It has long been known that the world’s forests provide refuge to the vast majority of terrestrial species, store massive amounts of carbon, safeguard many of the world’s most important watersheds, and are home to numerous indigenous groups, yet forests continue to fall at staggering rates. If biotic pump theory proves true, it adds a new and vital ecosystem service to the world’s forests: rainmakers.

    Read more: http://news.mongabay.com/2012/0201-hance_interview_bioticpump.html#ixzz3WIZDdOjz

  11. Jim 11

    Man made climate change be-lie-vers are on pare with church goers- blind, brainwashed sheep. Go read “The Galactic year” on Wiki- everything you need to know about natural/ ongoing climate change. The Sun- which governs all life on earth. Nothing to do with humans- who are like ants on the surface of the globe- despite what the vatican run Holy-wood media has managed to convince you of. A total illussion. The entire planet could be housed in NZ, leaving the rest of the earth bare – perhaps use Aussie as a farm.

    • Draco T Bastard 11.1

      Everything you just said there has been comprehensively debunked.

      • Bill 11.1.1

        But debunked and only supposedly, and therefor suspiciously, by the Holy-wood, Vatican, UN Trinity of the Lying and Manical Amphetamine Zombie Church of End Times Preachers.

    • millsy 11.2

      Then life in NZ would be just like Judge Dredd and Boade Runner.

    • Macro 11.3

      The entire planet could be housed in NZ, leaving the rest of the earth bare – perhaps use Aussie as a farm.

      what utter bullshit!
      10 billion people! (That’s the projected max number of the Earth’s population) spread over 268,000 square kilometres NZ’s total land mass (which includes The Southern Alps The NI Central Mountains, the Kiamais , etc. That is 268,000,000,000 square metres. That’s 2.68 square metres per person! Then you forget the fact that every body needs water. Such a demand would quickly exhaust all fresh water supplies.
      Of course you can believe your fantasy all you like – That there is no such thing as AGW – but it doesn’t make it true. You blind brainwashed sheep.

  12. joe90 12

    Yosemite pics showing just how bad California drought is.

    • RedLogix 12.1

      Thanks joe. TS’s Master Linker strikes again!. That was the kind of thing I was looking for yesterday.

  13. millsy 13

    Lets do some name swapping.

    Jerry Brown = ECan
    California = Canterbury

    Need I say more?

  14. joe90 14

    The rich are the problem.

    This disconnect, as it were, can be seen in places like Palm Springs, in the middle of the desert, where daily per capita water use is 201 gallons — more than double the state average. A recent drive through the community offered a drought-defying tableau of burbling fountains, flowers, lush lawns, golf courses and trees. The smell of mowed lawn was in the air.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2015/04/05/us/california-drought-tests-history-of-endless-growth.html

    http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-ln-wealthy-cities-lag-in-conservation-20150404-story.html#page=1

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