Tag Archives: Drought

California’s water crisis ~ Alarming prediction!

1-CALIFORNIA WATER CRISIS

These Maps of California’s Water Shortage Are Terrifying

California's water shortage

The following was posted on savethewater.org, by Tom Philpott, Oct. 30, 2014.

Just how bad is California’s water shortage? Really, really bad, according to these new maps, which represent groundwater withdrawals in California during the first three years of the state’s ongoing and epochal drought:

The maps come from a new paper in Nature Climate Change by NASA water scientist James Famiglietti. “California’s Sacramento and San Joaquin river basins have lost roughly 15 cubic kilometers of total water per year since 2011,” he writes. That’s “more water than all 38 million Californians use for domestic and municipal supplies annually—over half of which is due to groundwater pumping in the Central Valley.”

Famiglietti uses satellite data to measure how much water people are sucking out of the globe’s aquifers, and summarized his research in his new paper.

FARMER IN FIELDMore than 2 billion people rely on water pumped from aquifers as their primary water source, Famiglietti writes. Known as groundwater (as opposed to surface water, the stuff that settles in lakes and flows in streams and rivers), it’s also the source of at least half the irrigation water we rely on to grow our food. When drought hits, of course, farmers rely on groundwater even more, because less rain and snow means less water flowing above ground.

The lesson Famiglietti draws from satellite data is chilling: “Groundwater is being pumped at far greater rates than it can be naturally replenished, so that many of the largest aquifers on most continents are being mined, their precious contents never to be returned.”

The Central Valley boasts some of the globe’s fastest-depleting aquifers—but by no means the fastest overall. Indeed, it has a rival here in the United States. The below graphic represents depletion rates at some of the globe’s largest aquifers, nearly all of which Famiglietti notes, “underlie the world’s great agricultural regions and are primarily responsible for their high productivity.”

CHART TO CROP

The navy-blue line represents the Ogallala aquifer—a magnificent water resource now being sucked dry to grow corn in the US high plains. Note that it has quietly dropped nearly as much as the Central Valley’s aquifers (yellow line) over the past decade. The plunging light-blue line represents the falling water table in Punjab, India’s breadbasket and the main site of that irrigation-intensive agricultural “miracle” known as the Green Revolution, which industrialized the region’s farm fields starting in the 1960s. The light-green line represents China’s key growing region, the north plain. Its relatively gentle fall may look comforting, but the water table there has been dropping steadily for years.

groundwater supplyAll of this is happening with very little forethought or regulation. Unlike underground oil, underground water draws very little research on how much is actually there. We know we’re siphoning it away faster than it can be replaced, but we have little idea of how long we can keep doing so, Famiglietti writes. He adds, though, that if current trends hold, “groundwater supplies in some major aquifers will be depleted in a matter of decades.” As for regulation, it’s minimal across the globe. In most places, he writes, there’s a “veritable groundwater ‘free for all’: property owners who can afford to drill wells generally have unlimited access to groundwater.”

And the more we pump, the worse things get. As water tables drop, wells have to go deeper into the earth, increasing pumping costs. What’s left tends to be high in salts, which inhibit crop yields and can eventually cause soil to lose productivity altogether. Eventually, “inequity issues arise because only the relatively wealthy can bear the expense of digging deeper wells, paying greater energy costs to pump groundwater from increased depths and treating the lower-quality water that is often found deeper within aquifers,” Famiglietti writes—a situation already playing out in California’s Central Valley, where some low-income residents have seen their wells go dry. In a reporting trip to the southern part of the Central Valley this past summer, I saw salt-caked groves with wan, suffering almond trees—the result of irrigation with salty water pumped from deep in the aquifer.

All of this is taking place in a scenario of rapid climate change and steady population growth—so we can expect steeper droughts and more demand for water. Famiglietti’s piece ends with a set of recommendations for bringing the situation under control: Essentially, let’s carefully measure the globe’s groundwater and treat it like a precious resource, not a delicious milkshake to casually suck down to the dregs. In the meantime, Famiglietti warns, “further declines in groundwater availability may well trigger more civil uprising and international violent conflict in the already water-stressed regions of the world, and new conflict in others.”

http://savethewater.org/maps-californias-water-shortage-terrifying/

Related link ~ http://yournewswire.com/global-collapse-coming-from-groundwater-supply-depletion-nasa/

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OKANAGAN BASIN – GAME ABOUT DROUGHT

IMAGE WITH SUN

This article, The Name of the Game is Drought, appeared in the July/Aug. issue of WaterCanada.
The Okanagan Basin Water Board engages regional stakeholders in a tournament of thirst, by Kerry Freek

FACING DROUGHT IS A GROWING NECESSITY

DROUGHT

In the United States, drought ranks second or third of natural disasters, depending on the year, in terms of economic impact. In Canada, dry periods—especially in the western provinces—are becoming more frequent and prolonged. It’s not news that severe water scarcity can devastate unprepared communities. But when people, nature, and economic activities share a watershed’s resources, how should local governments determine a pecking order in the event of an emergency? More importantly, how do they begin the tough process of creating emergency plans in advance?
The answer, some might say, is to make it fun, but keep it meaningful.

DROUGHT1

This past fall, the Okanagan Basin Water Board (OBWB) kick-started the drought conversation in its region. In partnership with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) and the B.C. Ministry of Environment, the organization brought together key players in government, as well as regional water suppliers, and reps from the agriculture, fisheries, and ranching communities to participate in a game about municipal thirst.
As part of the exercise, participants were divided into teams, given a drought scenario, and asked to identify and work through some of the issues anticipated with a drought, such as water reservoir management, the need for water for food production, and water for fish. The teams were given options for managing their water supply, and referees and other teams scored their decisions. Finally, the decisions were entered into a sophisticated computer program, known as the water evaluation and planning tool. With output from this tool, participants could understand and assess how their decisions would play out in a multi-year drought.
Teams quickly learned that any choice would impact water supply land, depending on how the scenarios were managed, they could increase or reduce conflict within the community. They also learned success comes down to collaboration, says Nelson Jatel of OBWB. “In these situations, it’s critical to communicate clearly and work together. The game allowed us to think through some of the complex partnerships that are key to surviving a drought.”
Gaming is gaining in popularity, and is beginning to be seen as a way to work through potential conflicts in the real world. “When we play a game, we tackle tough challenges with more creativity, more determination, more optimism, and we’re more likely to reach out to others for help,” says game designer Jane McGonigal in her June 2012 TED talk video – 

Osooyoos Mayor Stu Wells, who participated in the Okanagan game, believes drought in the region is a matter of when, not if. “To ensure the most positive outcomes, we need to know where the need for water is going to be, and what the consequences and trade offs of our decisions will be. “Our town has a drought management plan, but after this tournament, we need to review it and look at providing more incentives for water conservation. We want to prepare to be as resilient as possible.” The game has continued to improve. AAFC says it is working on a tool kit so people in other Canadian regions—and beyond—can run their own versions and have a bit of fun in the process.

WATER CRISIS ~ TO FLUSH OR NOT TO FLUSH?

  CONSERVE NOW  

The following excerpt is from a livingliberally.org blog, submitted by KAT on Mon,10/22/2007 http://livingliberally.org/eating/story__not_so_flush_oct_22_2007_id721

TOILETMore and more of my friends are flushing their toilets less and less. In fact, some of us are even flushing each other’s toilets less and less. That may sound like a ghastly breach of etiquette to the vast majority of Americans, but when you’re as immersed in water issues as some of my friends are, you start to feel foolish about flushing away gallons of water just to disperse, say, a pint of pee.

CARBON FOOTPRINTMost of us have barely begun to size up our carbon footprint, and the concept of “peak oil” is just starting to seep into the MSM. But Jon Gertner’s chilling story on thePERFECT DROUGHT cover of Sunday’s New York Times Magazine, The Perfect Drought, adds two new phrases to the lexicon of looming limitations: “peak water,” (criticalWATER FOOTPRINT water shortages in the future, or peak water), and “water footprint.”

MONGOLIA DROUGHT

This YouTube video is not part of the article, but I’ve included it to add impact to the severity of the drought situation –  “Desert Overtaking Inner Mongolia“, uploaded on Sep 23, 2011, by circleofblue ~
         

The West is dry as a bone, as Malibu’s transformation from hot spot to inferno so vividly illustrates, and the fires are spreading SANDIEGO FIREfrom San Diego to Santa Barbara. The drought is so severe in North Georgia that Governor Sonny Perdue has called on President Bush to declare 85 counties federal disaster areas.

All of which lends credence to Gertner’s claim that a severe water crisis is already in the pipeline. An extended drought LOW WATER RESEVOIRcompounded by climate change has left reservoirs at an all-time low just when more and more people are relocating to the increasingly arid West. There’s not enough water to meet the growing demands of agriculture and development, and the situation is only going to get worse—much, much worse, according to the experts Gertner interviewed.

Pat Mulroy, head of Southern Nevada’s Water Authority, told Gertner: “We have an exploding human population, and we DESERThave a shrinking clean water supply. Those are on colliding paths…the people who move to the West today need to realize they’re moving into a desert…if they want to live in a desert, they have to adapt to a desert lifestyle.”

CALIFORNIA IRRIGATIONThose of us who hail from the irrigated deserts of California are familiar with the water-wise mantra “If it’s yellow, let it mellow; if it’s brown, flush it down,” or what Treehugger has dubbed “the selective flush.” But, as Treehugger noted, the Mayor of London, Ken Livingstone, caused a furor when he suggested that Londoners might want to think twice before flushing.

DOUBLE FLUSH CONTROLOn this side of the Atlantic, the squandering of water is not only accepted, but expected. Ann Coulter decries the low-flush toilet as the epitome of liberal lunacy. Coulter once told Slate: … everything that is unpleasant in life has been brought to us by liberals. One of them is the fact that we can only have two tablespoons of water in our toilet bowls because of some idiotic conservation of water… You throw half a tissue in the toilet and you have to flush it 16 times… 

GREEN LAWNAnd then there’s the ubiquitous American lawn, utterly unsuited to much of the country’s climate, yet mandated by local ordinances… I was delighted by a Daily Kos diary DAILY KOSthe other day devoted to a Boulder, Colorado CSA (community supported agriculture) run by a farmer, Kipp Nash, who works with suburban homeowners to convert useless lawns into productive vegetable patches.

SALAD BOWLLettuce in lieu of lawns? If our nation’s salad bowl turns into a dust bowl, we’re going to need a nation of Kipp Nashes to keep us in greens. The impending water crisis threatens the very foundation of our current agricultural system, which not only sucks up a huge percentage of theROYT West’s water, but also spews copious amounts of chemicals back into our water supply, as Elizabeth Royte documents in her thorough–and thoroughly distressing–recent Grist feature, From Bad to Thirst.

Water’s been on the verge of becoming the new oil for awhile, now, but with the evidence mounting fast that we’re on the verge of being tapped out, maybe the need to conserve will finally sink in. Or, we could just keep flushing away. I’m sure Ann Coulter will.

IS THE GRASS ALWAYS GREENER?

         

LAWN BLOG2

A lush lawn can be a drain on scarce water resources, but it may also be a boon to cities with storm water issues ~ published in Water Canada magazine, Nov./ Dec. issue ~by Kerry Freek

LAWN BLOG PARCHED LAWNYour city is suffering from an extended summer drought. Every blade of grass has recoiled from the sun. Every lawn has large, crispy sections which look more like hay than turf. One home’s lawn, however, defies the sun, looking lush; thriving in the sun. Feelings of jealousy override any rational belief that you’re part of the water conservation solution, making a small sacrifice for the greater good. Your aesthetically inclined neighbour has clearly ignored the citywide watering ban, but you have to admit that his lawn looks good.

LAWN BLOG TURFIn this era of climate change, extended drought and fiercer rain events, municipalities are finding that their storm water systems are inadequate. Cash strapped councils are beginning to see the benefits of low-impact development best practices, which include increasing permeable surface coverage with comparatively cheaper plants and grasses to help with infiltration. “Turf grass is an incredible filter,” says Alan White, president of Burlington, Ontario-based Turf Systems, who says that healthy, well-kept lawns can also help cool concrete urban heat sinks, manage carbon emissions, and increase oxygen production.

LAWN BLOG6Picking the right plant ~ Jealous neighbour jokes aside, watering bans are growing increasingly common across the country. However, while water scarcity is concern, it doesn’t always make lawns entirely out of the question. In fact, healthy lawns and water conservation practices may be able to coexist—at least for short periods of drought.

LAWN BLOG grass seedlingIt’s all about the right plant in the right place. Richardson says the key is to select the proper species and cultivars. “In extremely dry regions, it’s always prudent to use warm season grasses if they are adapted, but cool season grasses can be used with proper selection of species and cultivars.”

BLOG LAWN GRASS SEEDFinding the right grass can be difficult, partly because the broad use of the term “drought resistant” has many people confused. The current seed and sod market is saturated by companies with big claims and no proof. “Everybody has put ‘drought resistant’ on their packages…

LAWN BLOG RAIN GARDENChristine Zimmer of the Credit Valley Conservation Authority (CVC) says grass plays a role in a landscape’s ecosystem services, but the real key is biodiversity – especially when it comes to storm water management practices. How does a permaculture or rain garden stack up against a lawn made up of one species of grass, for instance? CVC is currently monitoring the differences in retention between low right-of-way rain gardens and grasses. Zimmer is also worried that the drought tolerant label could confuse consumers. “With new developments, people want a landscape to look nice right from the start. But when developers use turf, you don’t have stabilized roots right away,” says Zimmer. Even if the grass is rated drought tolerant, rain events will shuttle sediment into retention ponds until roots dig into plots.

LAWN BLOG TURF2Turf in cities ~ Still, a standard may go a long way in convincing municipalities and developers to acknowledge turf’s potential. Interest is growing, says Sean Moher of Manderley, Canada’s largest sod producer. “You’d be hard pressed to find a city that isn’t talking about water-wise landscapes and grasses. Drought tolerance is still so new, though. Industry has to be able to catch up to demand.”

LAWN BLOG LANDSCAPEDFor White, however, it’s not just about lawn advocacy. “If I can help people to avoid  installing artificial turf, that’s a win for us,” he says. “But there’s a bigger discussion going on here – landscape is a vital tool; it’s part of our cities’ infrastructure.”

UN’S AD DESIGN COMPETITION FOR WATER CONSERVATION

AD DESIGN COMPETITION SEEKS TO RAISE AWARENESS ABOUT WATER CONSERVATION

Are any of our readers/followers into artistic design/graphic arts?

If so, read on and good luck if you decide to enter the competition.  Let us know so we can help raise awareness through your efforts.

 The United Nations is now hosting a design competition, calling on so-called European “Artivists” to design ads that support water conservation efforts.

 The competition is part of the DropbyDrop campaign for “The Future We Want” initiative for the Rio+20 conference. DropbyDrop’s aim is to get people motivated to conserve water, the earth’s “most precious resource.” Europeans are now encouraged to find a creative way to raise awareness to a global issue.

The goal of the contest is to design a print advertisement that motivates others to preserve water, for those in need now as well as future generations. Professionals and non-professionals are invited to submit ideas for a newspaper ad that will inspire the European public to change their water habits.

 The winners will have their work displayed on the website. There is a possibility that the work will also be exhibited, and of course placed in European print publications. A jury of graphic designers, photographers and environmental experts will choose who wins.

And, there are prizes, including a 5000 euro cash prize from the Nordic Council of Ministers, a potential internship at Fabrica communication research for participants under 25, and a public voting prize.

 The Future We Want is an interesting campaign aimed at raising awareness of the Rio+20 conference.”This global conference could change the way we think about our world in terms of economic, social and environmental matters,” says Drop by Drop.

“The UN is engaging all citizens to put forward their ideas. Initiatives and competitions like this one from all corners of the globe that will form a part of a global conversation about the Future We Want.”

The Rio+20 conference will focus heavily on the green economy and sustainable development, so the partnership between the conference and this competition make sense. Of course an ad is just a small contribution, but incentives like a competition to bring designers together for a common good shouldn’t be shrugged off.

All entries must use the provided logo, and will be accepted until the end of February. Winners will be announced this June.

http://www.smartplanet.com/blog/design-architecture/ad-design-competition-seeks-to-raise-awareness-about-water-conservation/3882?tag=search-river