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Old 10-24-2007, 12:04 AM
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Unhappy Water in the west: the future is drying up

If you have 30 minutes, this is a fascinating read.

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/10/21/magazine/21water-t.html



Draining The 100-foot-high bathtub ring left by the dwindling waters of Lake Mead, behind Hoover Dam.
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Old 10-24-2007, 10:35 AM
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I have studied quite a bit of water law and follow water issues. Its a good article and a growth industry!
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Old 10-24-2007, 12:34 PM
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Question I've always had is how much of the dwindling water in the reservoirs etc. is due to lack of moisture (snow pack, rain, etc) that you may attribute to global warming as compared to the increased usage/demand over the last 20+ years?

Keep in mind the Colorado River once went all the way to Mexico as a true river as opposed to a dried up trickle...It has been that way for how many years now? Last time I was in the Phoenix metro area you could feel the increased humidity from the amount of water being used for lawns, pools, etc. Look at Aurora and areas east...Basically it is a semi-arid desert climate yet houses are being built at a frantic pace and each house taps into the already limited water supply further. Color me suspicious that global warming is more responsible for the water levels decreasing in the reservoirs when compared to the demand for watering lawns, taking showers, washing cars, you name it.

I guess if global warming starts rising the sea levels then folks are going to have to get creative and start building systems to desalinate the water and transport it to reservoirs in the interior of the country.
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Old 10-25-2007, 11:35 AM
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Ten pages, worth reading.

It's actually very terrifying. Almost every person interviewed was some sort of Western water expert and they all seem to be eluding to the fact that there will be scant water available in western states over the next few decades and that 30-50 years from now we will face a humanitarian crisis. Also, even if new systems were engineered (not fiscally possible) there simply will not be enough water for the current population and that population is expected to continue to explode in numbers...

sometimes I hate the human race...
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Old 10-25-2007, 12:03 PM
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another good reason for me not to have children
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Old 10-25-2007, 01:00 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MDH33 View Post
Ten pages, worth reading.

It's actually very terrifying. Almost every person interviewed was some sort of Western water expert and they all seem to be eluding to the fact that there will be scant water available in western states over the next few decades and that 30-50 years from now we will face a humanitarian crisis. Also, even if new systems were engineered (not fiscally possible) there simply will not be enough water for the current population and that population is expected to continue to explode in numbers...

sometimes I hate the human race...

Agreed...very much worth the reading and scary taken on face value

One interesting part was how bad off Las Vegas is and will be in the future. But you know, you build a city the size of Vegas in a desert, and then attempt to turn it into an oasis and what do you expect?

Another interesting note were the comments about how folks were encouraged to migrate West and settle the land which meant crops, irrigation, etc. All in and an area where a lot of it is considered semi-arid desert.

Here is a conundrum for folks. It is reported that one of the top (if not the #1) causes of global warming is water vapor. Build more houses, add more pools, what not and increase the water vapor which in turns causes more global warming which in turn causes yet more of an increase in water vapor and so on . How do you stop that
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Old 10-25-2007, 10:12 PM
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I didn't think it was all that terrifying. Is it an issue, yes. It always has been. It's just that it's time to start thinking about new alternatives to the dams and water rights. The old infrastructure needs to be looked at. It's the same with roads, air travel, electricity grids etc. I think it's definatly worthwhile to note the history and theorys of the demise of the native peoples many many years ago but they didn't have the engineering to overcome such issues. Sure desalination plants, water piplines next to oil and gas pipes. more wind energy, cutting back uses etc. It can be done.

It certainly is interesting the prior appropriation vs riparian water rights. If I could go back one thing i'd study is law and specialize in water rights.
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Old 10-26-2007, 08:13 AM
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Agreed, these things tend to balance themselves - in part due to extremists who manage to get the attention of the rest of us. It usually doesn't work out as terrifying as they paint the picture (I grew up with "Silent Spring"), but it does move the culture off dead center to take some moderate action.

The problem is either waiting until the balancing is violent (we almost bought a house in Louviers, they have a REAL problem there just waiting for the next drought!), or taking extreme action now and auguring the economic environment. The inherent damping effect of the large group usually (not always) keeps these swings in check.

I for one put in a small drought resistant lawn (water 1-2x/week, minimally, once it fully establishes) and worked the soil hard before laying it.
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Old 10-26-2007, 09:06 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nuclearlemon View Post
another good reason for me not to have children
That's the part that I really hate when I read about stuff like this. How many more generations will get to come up in the west before we've used up all the natural resources? Will my kids be the last; will it be their kids? The optimist in me believes that science and advancement will be able to come up with a plan to reduce the impact of this change, but I dunno (it would only stand to delay the inevitable without major population controls). Simple things like using gray water to flush the toilet or water the grass seems too simple, yet too few are making any changes.

I guess we'll see. If there is a way to "invest" in water futures, I'd be interested in hearing about it.....
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Old 10-26-2007, 09:20 AM
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Quote:
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....it would only stand to delay the inevitable without major population controls. Simple things like using gray water to flush the toilet or water the grass seems too simple, yet too few are making any changes....
Exactly.
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