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Drought-Stricken Lake Mead Less Than 150 Feet From “Dead Pool”

Drought-Stricken Lake Mead Less Than 150 Feet From “Dead Pool”

The surface of Lake Mead, North America’s largest artificial reservoir, now stands at 1044 feet above sea level and is dropping fast. If Lake Mead’s water level falls another 149 feet, a dangerous level known as a “dead pool” could wreak havoc across Southwestern US.

Since the beginning of March, Lake Mead has dropped about 23 feet, and compared with the 5-year trend, the reservoir’s water levels are well below average, at the lowest point since the lake was filled nearly a century ago.

A graph might not do justice to visualizing just how fast the water level has fallen. So here are three pictures of a sunken speedboat in the lake and the corresponding date. Just in May, the boat was partially submerged. Now there’s no water.

If Lake Mead were to keep dropping, it could be a couple of years until a danger zone at 895 feet is reached, which is the point water would no longer pass through Hoover Dam to supply California, Arizona, and Mexico. Below 895 feet, the lake would be considered a “dead pool.”

For more context of what’s happened over the last three decades as a megadrought grips the US West, here’s a view of the spillway of the Hoover Dam in 1983 versus 2021.

Weather satellites have captured an absolutely stunning view of the lake rapidly shrinking in the last two years.

A lake observer on YouTuber shows how the water level has dangerously dropped in the last two weeks.

Last week, Tanya Trujillo, the Interior Department’s assistant secretary for water and science, said in a speech, “We have an urgent need to act now.”

If no drastic action is taken and the lake hits dead pool level (read: The Real Deadpool: America’s Drought Is Worse Than You Think”), millions of people in Arizona, California, Nevada, and parts of Mexico could experience devastating water shortages.

The Coming Removal of the Mandate of Heaven, Part 2: Water

The Coming Removal of the Mandate of Heaven, Part 2: Water

Water, water everywhere but all of it polluted

Before I started I wanted to address my last post. I wrote it a little too hastily due to a sick daughter and I plan to go back and clean it up somewhat. The political infighting aspect will be trimmed down as I plan to discuss that more in Part 3, with only the parts directly addressing the food issue being kept in.

China has also started taking efforts to address some of these issues and I want to address what they’re doing. I fully admit to having an axe to grind when it comes to the CCP, but I want to make sure I’m as intellectually honest as possible. This includes giving them credit on the rare instances they manage to do something smart.

The fact these plans will wind up making it worse is just icing on the cake.

I also want to reformat it according to the template I plan to use going forward.

I’ll also be doing a Part 0 for this series which will include a table of contents for all of the posts in this series, and which will provide an overview of the relevant portions of Chinese history with a special focus on the Confucian concept of the Mandate of Heaven and its removal.

I hope to get that done tomorrow evening, but can’t guarantee that will occur.

Water Thresholds

In order to understand the grave danger China is facing, we need to understand water usage and thresholds below which the population begins to face some level of danger. For that, we’re going to turn to Reuters for an overview.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

The Coming Removal of the Mandate of Heaven, Part 2: Water

The Coming Removal of the Mandate of Heaven, Part 2: Water

Water, water everywhere but all of it polluted

Before I started I wanted to address my last post. I wrote it a little too hastily due to a sick daughter and I plan to go back and clean it up somewhat. The political infighting aspect will be trimmed down as I plan to discuss that more in Part 3, with only the parts directly addressing the food issue being kept in.

China has also started taking efforts to address some of these issues and I want to address what they’re doing. I fully admit to having an axe to grind when it comes to the CCP, but I want to make sure I’m as intellectually honest as possible. This includes giving them credit on the rare instances they manage to do something smart.

The fact these plans will wind up making it worse is just icing on the cake.

I also want to reformat it according to the template I plan to use going forward.

I’ll also be doing a Part 0 for this series which will include a table of contents for all of the posts in this series, and which will provide an overview of the relevant portions of Chinese history with a special focus on the Confucian concept of the Mandate of Heaven and its removal.

I hope to get that done tomorrow evening, but can’t guarantee that will occur.

Water Thresholds

In order to understand the grave danger China is facing, we need to understand water usage and thresholds below which the population begins to face some level of danger. For that, we’re going to turn to Reuters for an overview.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Arizona’s Top Water Official: “We’re Going To Have To Live With Less Water” 

Arizona’s Top Water Official: “We’re Going To Have To Live With Less Water” 

Following the U.S. Department of the Interior’s call to limit water deliveries from Lake Powell, Arizona’s top water official warned of an impending water crisis that could affect the drinking water for millions of people.

“This is really getting to (be) a health and safety issue… the health and safety of those who want to turn on the tap and have water,” Tom Buschatzke, Arizona’s director of water resources, told Phoenix’s 12 News on Sunday. 

He said Arizona and other Western states have until the end of the week to respond to an emergency request by the federal government to delay water deliveries from the Colorado River, a move that would hopefully allow more water to flow into Lake Powell.

“I never thought this day would come this quickly … But I think we always knew that this day was potentially out there,” he said. 

Lake Powell recently declined to 3,525 feet (1,075 meters), the lowest level since the federal government dammed the Colorado River at Glen Canyon (located in northern Arizona) more than five decades ago. If Lake Powell drops below 3,490 feet (1,063 meters), it could begin to inhibit the production of hydropower and the movement of water from the dam.

Buschatzke said the water outlook is bleak, adding, “we not in danger of shutting off the taps at home today — but the levels of the lakes [Lake Powell & Lake Mead] would become difficult to move water past the dams because of the infrastructure design — so even if there is water in the reservoir, it’s limited to how much can come out.” 

He said the goal is to keep water levels at Lake Powell high enough to continue operations at Glen Canyon Dam and supply water to Lake Mead.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Unsafe Water Kills More People Than Disasters And Conflicts

Unsafe Water Kills More People Than Disasters And Conflicts

Fewer people around the world lack access to basic drinking water services than when the data was last published in 2015. Yet, as Statista’s Katharina Buchholz explains below, several countries, especially in Africa, still have a way to go to provide their citizens with safe drinking water.

Infographic: Unsafe Water Kills More People Than Disasters and Conflicts | Statista

You will find more infographics at Statista

772 million people around the world still lack even basic access, according to the United Nations, who declared March 22 World Water Day.

This is despite the fact that unsafe water, causing diseases like cholera, typhoid and hepatitis A, is a bigger cause of human death annually than disasters and conflicts combined. This is according to data by PRIO and the Uppsala Conflict Data Program as well as the International Insurance Institute.

Children especially are affected by these deadly waterborne diseases.

The UN and WHO joint monitoring program on safe drinking water found that people lacking access to it are currently predominantly located in Africa.

South and Central America, on the other hand, offer basic drinking water services (defined as access to protected wells or springs in less than 30 minutes distance) to at least three quarters of the population in all countries except for Haiti.

The APAC region generally also provides these basic services to at least three quarters of people, except for in Cambodia and Papua New Guinea.

Beavers offer lessons about managing water in a changing climate, whether the challenge is drought or floods

Beavers offer lessons about managing water in a changing climate, whether the challenge is drought or floods

It’s no accident that both the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the California Institute of Technology claim the beaver (Castor canadensis) as their mascots. Renowned engineers, beavers seem able to dam any stream, building structures with logs and mud that can flood large areas.

As climate change causes extreme storms in some areas and intense drought in others, scientists are finding that beavers’ small-scale natural interventions are valuable. In dry areas, beaver ponds restore moisture to the soil; in wet zones, their dams and ponds can help to slow floodwaters. These ecological services are so useful that land managers are translocating beavers in the U.S. and the United Kingdom to help restore ecosystems and make them more resilient to climate change.

Scientists estimate that hundreds of millions of beavers once dammed waterways across the Northern Hemisphere. They were hunted nearly to extinction for their fur in the 18th and 19th centuries in Europe and North America but are making comebacks today in many areas. As a geoscientist specializing in water resources, I think it’s important to understand how helpful beavers can be in the right places and to find ways for humans to coexist with them in developed areas.

How beavers alter landscapes

Beavers dam streams to create ponds, where they can construct their dome-shaped lodges in the water, keeping predators at a distance. When they create a pond, many other effects follow.

Newly flooded trees die but remain standing as bare “snags” where birds nest. The diverted streams create complicated interwoven channels of slow-moving water, tangled with logs and plants that provide hiding places for fish. The messy complexity behind a beaver dam creates many different kinds of habitats for creatures such as fish, birds, frogs and insects.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

How our miraculous transportation system turns water into brine

How our miraculous transportation system turns water into brine

“Water, water, everywhere, nor any drop to drink.”

When English romantic poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge published those words in 1798, there was no dense network of modern concrete and asphalt roads in Great Britain (or anywhere else) and there were no automobiles or trucks to ride on them. And so, of course, there was no salting of roads in winter.

The excerpt quoted above is from Coleridge’s famous poem, “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner,” and refers to the mariner’s desperate desire for drinkable water while floating on the ocean.

We as a society are inching closer each year to bringing the ancient mariner’s predicament on land because of our practice of salting roads in winter to make them safer for driving. The amount of salt we use for this purpose in the United States has gone from 0.15 metric tons per year in the 1940s to 18 million metric tons annually as of 2017.

The result has been dangerously escalating salt concentrations in rivers, streams, lakes and ponds. Some urban bodies of water exceed the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s standard for protecting aquatic life by 20 to 30 times. Humans, of course, aren’t aquatic life, but the trend in the salinization of surface water is troubling given the important role those waters play in water supplies around the country and the world.

The proposed solutions tend to emphasize substitutes—sand and beet juice (yes, really)—or more parsimonious use of road salt. What those proposing solutions do not explore is whether a road system serving over a billion motor vehicles—the vast majority of which consume petroleum and spew climate warming gases—is the best one for our needs. The assumption generally is that the current system cannot be changed and that all the problems attendant to this system have to be addressed without disturbing its basic structure.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

BC’s Effort to License Water Use Falling Apart, Critics Say

BC’s Effort to License Water Use Falling Apart, Critics Say

Liberals, Greens agree a crisis looms for thousands of farmers and other water users.

B.C.’s opposition parties want the government to extend — for a second time — an approaching groundwater licensing deadline, warning of a looming crisis for local farms and small businesses.

“We are just deeply concerned,” said Shirley Bond, the interim leader of the BC Liberal Party, in an interview. “We want them to extend the deadline, but additionally we want them to do a better job of getting the information out there and finding people who haven’t registered and help.”

Existing users of groundwater, generally from wells or dugouts, for agriculture, industry or business have until March 1 to get licences or risk losing access to water. The requirement is part of changes to the province’s Water Sustainability Act that came into force in 2016.

But less than 25 per cent of the estimated 20,000 water users, some of whom have been drawing groundwater for generations, have applied for licences.

By mid-December, only around 4,300 had applied, up just slightly from September and last summer.

In 2016 groundwater users were given a three-year transition period to apply for a licence, a policy that recognized their historic use and brought them under the regulations with fewer requirements than new users would face. If they didn’t get a licence, they would lose guaranteed access to the water and have to re-apply, facing the risk of long delays and being denied water rights.

In 2019, when that special treatment was previously set to end, the government extended the deadline and gave users until March 1, 2022, to apply.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Plant lists that shouldn’t exist

Plant lists that shouldn’t exist

Nothing drives me crazier than simplistic solutions to complex problems. Given our changing climate, there has been an explosion of “drought tolerant” and “firewise” plant lists in the gardening world. Most of these lists are devoid of science and all of them are removed from reality. The fact is that taxonomy plays a minimal role in determining whether a plant will tolerate environmental extremes.

Lack of irrigation and mulch guarantees a drought-stressed landscape regardless of the selected species.

Let’s start with the most obvious problems with these lists. The goal isn’t to have plants that require less additional water – it’s to have a landscape that requires less additional water. Similarly, the relative flammability of plants is less important than whether the landscape surrounding those plants is protected from fire. Plants don’t exist in vacuum and unless you are strictly a container gardener a single plant’s impact on water use or fire resilience is negligible. So a gardener’s questions should be “How can I make my landscape more drought tolerant? How can I reduce the likelihood of wildfire damage?” And these are questions that can be addressed with knowledge gleaned from applied plant and soil sciences.

Drought Tolerance

Arborvitae can tolerate droughty summers, but they don’t tolerate improper planting and management.

First of all, let’s think about what “drought” really means: it’s an unusual lack of rainfall. It doesn’t mean no irrigation, and it doesn’t mean dry soil. Drought is a climatological term, not one associated with soil water management. Fine roots and their root hairs require water to function. Without sufficient soil water plants will go dormant or die, particularly during establishment. Plants that are drought tolerant can tolerate seasonal lack of rainfall, but they can’t tolerate chronically dry soil conditions.

Even “drought tolerant” species like Sempervivum will die if there’s not enough soil water.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

5 gardening tips to keep your plants healthy

5 gardening tips to keep your plants healthy

Sometimes, it may be difficult to know the best ways to keep your plants healthy, especially if you’re not a gardener by profession. We aim to have a highly productive garden that fulfils our needs, natures needs, is energy efficient and low maintenance. If you’re struggling to maintain the health of your plants, don’t worry – this guide can help get your plants flourishing in no time at all, expanding nature for both its beauty and eco-friendly benefits. Read on for more discussion!

Water

Telling you to water your plants may seem very obvious, but you should never underestimate the significance that water has in a plant’s growing cycle. Making up a high percentage of an entire plant’s weight, water is crucial for delivering nutrients from the soil to the plant’s cells, keeping them healthy and strong. It can be a challenge sometimes to know how much water to give your plants, so you need to consider the conditions. Thinking about the climate and soil type can help you with this. It is important to get the balance right since too little water causes plants to stop growing and die, whilst too much water can create soggy roots, resulting in the plant becoming oxygen-starved. A good estimate for most gardens is supplying your plants with around one inch of water a week, whilst gardens in hot climates may need two inches of water per week due to the loss of moisture. Water aids plants in their critical life processes, including photosynthesis, nutrient distribution, and transpiration. Therefore, one healthy soak a week should be enough to keep your plants alive and healthy, helping your garden to blossom with minimal effort!

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

The Future of Water in the U.S. West is Uncertain, So Planning and Preparedness Are Critical

Water authorities in the Western U.S. don’t know what the future will bring, but they are working collaboratively and with scientific rigor to make sure they’re prepared for anything.
Lake Mead’s elevationPhoto courtesy of the U.S. Department of the Interior

In a thirsty Western United States that has become increasingly vulnerable to extreme weather events, rampant wildfires and years of unprecedented drought, those at the helm of the region’s water agencies are accelerating their plans to grapple with climate change.

“The Western United States — especially the 40 million people who use the Colorado River — we’re in the bullseye of climate change,” says Cynthia Campbell, water resource management advisor for the City of Phoenix. “This is not a conceptual conversation anymore. We’re in full-on adaptation.”

With that reality comes the need to plan around the future of water for the people and wildlife who call the Colorado River Basin home.

You can’t just plan for one future.” –Carly Jerla

But, says Carly Jerla, an operations research analyst for the United States Bureau of Reclamation’s Lower Colorado Region, “you can’t just plan for one future.”

As climate change casts its shadow over water resources in the Western U.S., water authorities must navigate uncertainty in the form of the many possible futures in front of them. Those futures almost certainly hold more of what climate change has already brought — rising temperatures, changes in precipitation, shifts in snowpack, longer and more severe droughts, more frequent flooding — plus people’s responses to those changes. Taken together, these fateful forecasts go into climate projections: models that explore an array of possible future climate conditions or scenarios.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Greywater revisited

Greywater revisited

Years ago I wrote about the sustainable greywater I installed in Cooran. It was always my intention to do this again, even though such systems, as sustainable as they are, are no longer ‘legal’. I couldn’t give a you know what anymore, the way things are panning out nobody else will either soon…..

I actually had to do this twice, because at first I couldn’t work out how to connect one of those green valve inspection housings to the outlet of the IBC I decided to use instead of spending $300 on another piece of plastic….

So I cut the IBC to the right height and used geotech fabric I happened to have lying around from the drainage work behind the house. Bad idea, all it did was block off all flows out of the IBC and drown my recently acquired worms….

I dug all the sloppy wet compost into two wheelbarrows and fitted a valve inspection housing in the IBC. Of course the big difference is that an IBC already has an outlet, which at first I couldn’t work out how to connect to the valve inspection housing until I literally dreamed up a way in the middle of the night!

I then respread the gravel around the housing I had predrilled with 12mm holes, and outlet pipe. Then the compost went back in. There are still a few worms left, but I’ll have to repopulate what is basically a worm farm…

Then the mulch went back on top of the capped housing, and the plumbing from the kitchen sink going through the wall of the house was reconnected.

The outlet pipe goes under the recently laid road base we dumped on the front apron of the house. As soon as the weather cooperates, it’ll be topped with blue metal, and our solar pergola can then be built…. Eventually, the whole thing will disappear under outdoor kitchen furniture. Lots to do still, watch this space…

Dying crops, spiking energy bills, showers once a week. In South America, the climate future has arrived.

An aerial view of the drying bed of the Paraná River in August as the water reached a historic low near Rosario, Santa Fe, Argentina. (JUAN MABROMATA/AFP via Getty Images)
BUENOS AIRES — Sergio Koci’s sunflower farm in the lowlands of northern Argentina has survived decades of political upheaval, runaway inflation and the coronavirus outbreak. But as a series of historic droughts deadens vast expanses of South America, he fears a worsening water crisis could do what other calamities couldn’t: Bust his third-generation agribusiness.
“When you have one bad year, you can face it,” Koci said. Some of his 20,000 acres rest near the mighty Paraná River, where water levels have reached lows not seen since 1944. On the back of two years of drought-related crop losses, he said, the continuing dryness is now set to reduce his sunflower yields this year by 65 percent.

“When you have three bad years, you don’t know if there will even be another year,” he said.

From the frigid peaks of Patagonia to the tropical wetlands of Brazil, worsening droughts this year are slamming farmers, shutting down ski slopes, upending transit and spiking prices for everything from coffee to electricity.

So low are levels of the Paraná running through Brazil, Paraguay and Argentina that some ranchers are herding cattle across dried-up riverbeds typically lined with cargo-toting barges. Raging wildfires in Paraguay have brought acrid smoke to the limits of the capital. Earlier this year, the rushing cascades of Iguazu Falls on the Brazilian-Argentine frontier reduced to a relative drip.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Lake Mead – The Largest Reservoir in the United States – Drops to a Record Low

Lake Mead – The Largest Reservoir in the United States – Drops to a Record Low

Lake Mead August 2000 Annotated

August 7, 2000

Lake Mead August 2021 Annotated

August 9, 2021

The reservoir stands at its lowest level since the 1930s.

Lake Mead is the largest reservoir in the United States and part of a system that supplies water to at least 40 million people across seven states and northern Mexico. It stands today at its lowest level since Franklin Delano Roosevelt was president. This means less water will be portioned out to some states in the 2022 water year.

As of August 22, 2021, Lake Mead was filled to just 35 percent of its capacity. The low water level comes at a time when 95 percent of the land in nine Western states is affected by some level of drought (64 percent is extreme or worse). It continues a 22-year megadrought that may be the region’s worst dry spell in twelve centuries.

These natural-color images were acquired in August 2000 and August 2021 by Landsat 7 and Landsat 8. The tan fringes along the shoreline in 2021 are areas of the lakebed that would be underwater when the reservoir is filled closer to capacity. The phenomenon is often referred to as a “bathtub ring.”

The lake elevation data below come from the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, which manages Lake Mead, Lake Powell, and other portions of the Colorado River watershed. At the end of July 2021, the water elevation at the Hoover Dam was 1067.65 feet (325 meters) above sea level, the lowest since April 1937, when the lake was still being filled. The elevation at the end of July 2000—around the time of the Landsat 7 images above and below—was 1199.97 feet (341 meters).

Lake Mead Elevation

2000 – 2021

At maximum capacity, Lake Mead reaches an elevation 1,220 feet (372 meters) near the dam and would hold 9.3 trillion gallons (36 trillion liters) of water. The lake last approached full capacity in the summers of 1983 and 1999. It has been dropping ever since.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Homes lose running water in Klamath Basin as houses compete with farmers, ranchers

Homes lose running water in Klamath Basin as houses compete with farmers, ranchers

Water well pump servicers with TW Wells get a water well outside Klamath Falls running again on Aug. 5.
Water well pump servicers with TW Wells get a water well outside Klamath Falls running again on Aug. 5.

JPR News

Homes in rural areas of the Klamath Basin have lost running water as their wells fail. Part of the reason: more farmers and ranchers are pumping water from underground than any other year, because they didn’t get any irrigation water from a nearby lake.

In a small residential town called Midland outside Klamath Falls, Terry Smith stands in her driveway with her neighbor’s garden hose in hand.

That’s been her primary source of water since the well to her own home went dry several weeks earlier.

“I have no water,” Smith says, exasperated. “I can’t take a bath. I can’t clean my house. I can’t cook. And now my well is probably not going to work. I’ve lived in this house for 30 years. This is our retirement.”

Smith is waiting for emergency officials to fill her new storage tank with water, which will eventually be delivered in a tanker normally used for delivering milk. In the meantime, she’s been filling 5-gallon jugs with water at a filling station in Klamath Falls and taking up her neighbor’s offer to use water from their hose.

When Smith’s well stopped working, she called a contractor to drill it deeper. This was going to be a gamble, since there wasn’t a guarantee that it’d work, and she’d have to pay the contractor several thousand dollars regardless.

“I keep thinking today’s going to be the day that the [water] tank gets filled,” Smith says. “Today’s going to be the day when the well gets drilled. But it isn’t.”

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Olduvai IV: Courage
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Olduvai II: Exodus
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