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Saudi Arabia Using 140-Year-Old Loophole To Soak Up California’s Scarce Water Supply

Saudi Arabia Using 140-Year-Old Loophole To Soak Up California’s Scarce Water Supply

Saudi Arabia is exploiting a farming loophole in California which allows a tiny, poverty-stricken desert town to use as much water as it needs for agriculture, for free – circumventing harsh water restrictions imposed in the Saudi Kingdom, reports The Guardian.

In particular, the Saudis are after alfalfa to feed their cows – setting up shop in Blythe, California – home to roughly 21,000 people (6,000 of whom live in prison) about four hours east of Los Angeles. Fondomonte Farms is a subsidiary of Saudi-based Almarai, one of the largest food production companies in the world. Every month, Fondomonte ships boat-loads of alfalfa to a massive port stationed on the Red Sea, just outside Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah City. 

The state of the Colorado river can be traced, in part, to a water claim approved by the federal government all the way back in the 1800s when a British gold rush-era prospector named Thomas Blythe first laid eyes on the desert expanse adjacent to the rushing Colorado river and submitted a water claim application to the federal government.

That 1877 water claim, now owned by the Palo Verde Irrigation District, ensures that Blythe has “unquantified water rights for beneficial use”; in other words, as much water as those living and farming within the district could possibly need in this water-scarce region, and for free.

With the Saudi Arabian landscape there being mostly desert and alfalfa being a water-intensive crop, growing it there has always been expensive and draining on scarce water resources, to the point that the Saudi government finally outlawed the practice in 2016. In the wake of the ban, Almarai decided to purchase land wherever it is cheap and has favorable water conditions to produce enough feed for its 93,000 cows. –The Guardian

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

Fact-Checking the “Fact-Checkers”: Snopes & Politifact Said I’m a Big Fat Liar, But Let’s Look at THEIR “Facts”

Fact-Checking the “Fact-Checkers”: Snopes & Politifact Said I’m a Big Fat Liar, But Let’s Look at THEIR “Facts”

Last weekend when I wrote about the new bills that were turned into law in California by a mercifully-departing Governor Jerry Brown, I never expected a hub-bub. I did my research, came to some conclusions, and titled my article, “Now It’s Illegal to Have a Shower and Do Laundry on the Same Day.” That’s the link if you want to read it first. Fact-checkers Snopes and Politifact said I was a big fat liar, but let’s take a look at their “facts,” shall we?

Contrary to popular belief, no kittens were sacrificed to the devil in the writing of that article. I just sat down, did a little research, and came to some conclusions that in my eyes were (and still are) entirely reasonable. However, Snopes and Politifact disagreed rather vehemently. (About the conclusions, not the kittens. The kittens actually were a figment of my imagination, unlike anything in the article they “debunked.)

Now, before I get into fact-checking these so-called fact-checkers, let me tell you a quick personal story. Writing controversial content can be a wee bit stressful sometimes.

When the mainstream picks up on what you’ve written, you can expect a lot of hate mail.  Most of it is of the generic, “you’re an idiot” style but there are always a few overachievers.

I’d like to send out my very best wishes to the guy who hopes that my daughters and I get locked in a basement and die of thirst. You’re a stellar human being. Almost as nice as the guy who believes it would be my just desserts if I were to drown in all the water I want to waste.

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


If You Think the Water Restrictions in California Are Tough, Check Out Cape Town

If You Think the Water Restrictions in California Are Tough, Check Out Cape Town

Remember earlier in the year when the news was abuzz about Day Zero in Cape Town, South Africa?  According to the press at the time, the day was looming when the city of 3.74 million people would run completely out of water. First, the date of Day Zero was heralded as April 16th, then May 11th, then June 4th.

Calculating Day Zero took into account maximum evaporation (based on temperature and wind) and existing patterns in agricultural and urban use—an equation that considered both natural and man-made conditions. (source)

Now, they’re saying the disaster has been averted for now, but that it could happen in 2019. And if you think the water restrictions in California are tough, wait until you see what they’re doing in Cape Town.

So how did Cape Town avoid Day Zero?

Day Zero was delayed by a combination of things. Fortunately, there was some rainfall, and citizens went to great effort to reduce their water usage.  There was a public campaign to basically scare Capetonians into compliance with conservation efforts.

Late last year, as the South African government faced the prospect of its largest city running out of water, they took an unprecedented gamble.

The government announced “day zero” – a moment when dam levels would be so low that they would turn off the taps in Cape Town and send people to communal water collection points.

This apocalyptic notion prompted water stockpiling and panic, caused a drop in tourism bookings, and raised the spectre of civil unrest.

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

Hell On Earth: Major City Will RUN OUT Of Water In Less Than 95 Days

Hell On Earth: Major City Will RUN OUT Of Water In Less Than 95 Days

earthquake drought natural disaster

If you’ve ever needed a reason to store extra food and water, this just might be it.  Cape Town, South Africa is on schedule to run out of water in less than 95 days, and when they do, the government will turn off the taps.

“There are only 95 days left before we reach Day Zero,” the City of Cape Town announced on January 15 in a statement. “Day Zero has moved a day closer this week to April 21, 2018. Day Zero is when the City will be forced to turn off most of the taps.”

The coastal South African city has been battling droughts for nearly three years, amounting to the worst one in their history. With little rain on the horizon, the city has now ordered its 3.7 million residents to drastically cut their water consumption, take short stop-start showers, not wash their cars, and flush toilets as little as possible. If they don’t, all of their taps could be shut off by the government in April.

The city doesn’t appear to have any plan in place for such a SHTF event. But if the government cannot find a solution to the problem, Capetonians will be forced into “bread lines” for water. As if that isn’t scary enough, city residents will have a limit of 5.5 gallons of water a day that will only be given to them at specific government outposts around the city.

Cape Town’s mayor Patricia de Lille‏ tweeted: “I cannot stress it enough: all residents must save water and use less than 87 liters [19 gallons] per day… We must avoid Day Zero and saving water is the only way we can do this.” Not missing the opportunity to levy extra taxes on the populace, the city mayor has also impeded a “drought charge” in order to fund new water projects, such as constructing desalination plants.

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

California Nightmare: Not Progressive Anymore

California Nightmare: Not Progressive Anymore

California water management

Water management is hardly progressive in California these days. Photo: roam and shoot/Flickr CC.

If one more Californian tells me how “progressive” California is, I am going to scream.

“Progressivism” is the term applied to a variety of responses to the economic and social problems that were introduced to America by industrialization. It began as a social movement and grew into a political one. Early Progressives rejected Social Darwinism, believing that the problems society faced — such as poverty, violence, greed, racism and class warfare — could best be addressed by providing a good education and efficient, safe workplace and protecting the environment.

As the ideology developed, it came to represent four core values: Progressives have a two-part definition of freedom: “freedom from” and “freedom to.”

First, they believe that all people should have freedom from undue interference by governments and others in carrying out their private affairs and personal beliefs.  This includes the rights to freedom of speech, association, and religion as well as the freedom to control one’s own bodies and personal lives.

Second, they believe that all people should have the freedom to lead a fulfilling and secure life supported by the basic foundations of economic security and opportunity.  This includes physical protections against bodily harm as well as adequate income, economic protections, health care and education, and other social provisions.

Complementing their commitment to human freedom is their belief in opportunity.  Like freedom, the concept of opportunity has two components:  one focuses on political equality and the other on economic and social arrangements that enhance people’s lives.

Along with freedom and opportunity comes responsibility — personal responsibility and the responsibility we have to each other and to the common good.

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

Leaking Las Vegas: Lake Mead At Record Lows, “We Have To Change”

Leaking Las Vegas: Lake Mead At Record Lows, “We Have To Change”

This is it, warns one water advocate, “it really does (make critical) the fact that we have to start changing.” Lake Mead water levels have sunk to their lowest levels on record (below the levels when the dam was built) at 1075 feet. This is a major problem, as USA Today reports, since Las Vegas water authority’s current “straws” glean water from 1,050 feet and 1,000 feet – leaving the first straw just 25 feet away from pulling in air. With the drought only set to get worse as the summer begins, the water wars are just beginning as Lower-basin states are still taking more than the river system can sustain.

Bad and getting worse…

As USA Today reports,

Lake Mead sunk to a record low Tuesday night, falling below the point that would trigger a water-supply shortage if the reservoir doesn’t recover soon.

…in the long run, as a U.S. Bureau of Reclamation spokeswoman said, “We still need a lot more water.”

The reservoir stores water for parts of Arizona, Southern California, southern Nevada and northern Mexico — all of which have endured a 15-year drought that continues.

But Tuesday’s record low signals that Colorado River water users consume more than the river provides, said water-policy manager Drew Beckwith of the Western Resource Advocates, a nonprofit environmental law and policy organization.

“This is the check-engine light,” Beckwith said. “It really does (make critical) the fact that we have to start changing.”

For Las Vegas, the record reinforces the need for a nearly $1.5 billion project to tap deeper into Lake Mead. The Southern Nevada Water Authority soon will complete a 3-mile tunnel that will suck water from an 860-foot elevation level. The plan also includes a pumping station.


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


Beyond the Perfect Drought: California’s Real Water Crisis

Beyond the Perfect Drought: California’s Real Water Crisis

The record-breaking drought in California is not chiefly the result of low precipitation. Three factors – rising temperatures, groundwater depletion, and a shrinking Colorado River – mean the most populous U.S. state will face decades of water shortages and must adapt.

The current drought afflicting California is indeed historic, but not because of the low precipitation totals. In fact, in terms of overall precipitation and spring snowpack, the past three years are not record-breakers, according to weather data for the past century. Similarly, paleoclimate studies show that the current drought is not exceptional given the natural variations in precipitation of the past seven centuries. Nor can it be confidently said that the current drought bears the unequivocal imprint of climate change 

Oroville Lake

Mark Ralston/AFP/Getty Images
The Lake Oroville reservoir in Northern California was at less than 25 percent capacity last month.

driven by increasing greenhouse gases, since the low precipitation is well within the bounds of natural variability.

All this being said, it is also clear that this drought is exceptional and should be seen as an historical turning point. Indeed, California is moving into new — and worrisome — territory for three reasons: rising heat, which causes increased evaporation; the continuing depletion of groundwater supplies; and growing water shortages on the Colorado River, the main external source of water for Southern California.

A decade ago, I first wrote about California and the “perfect drought.” Now, unless bold steps are taken to deal with a growing water crisis, California may be facing a future of perfect droughts. 

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

The California Water Shortage: A Case for Aesthetic Ecosystem and Ecological Design

The California Water Shortage: A Case for Aesthetic Ecosystem and Ecological Design

California reservoir drought

A reservoir showing the effect of drought conditions in California

In recent news, there has been significant coverage of California’s struggle with its below average precipitation in the past several years.  Yes, they call it a drought.

Governor Jerry Brown and California State Water Resources Control Board have come forward with restrictions on water use, primarily in urban and suburban areas.

People are ripping up lawns.

Landscape designers are drooling (not too much) over the opportunity to redesign so many areas for better water conservation.  Many are replacing lawns with cookie-cutter designed ‘xeriscapes’ or ‘desertscapes’ such as this one.

Urbanites are pitted against agrarians saying the other is more responsible.

One recent interview on NPR highlights cemetery caretakers wondering “if cemeteries, particularly for veterans, shouldn’t play by different rules than, say, a suburban lawn”?

And now, there’s a struggle between allowing salmon to spawn and the ability of Bay area residents to drink water that doesn’t taste funky.

This is where I follow up with saying, ‘The end is near!’

OK so perhaps I’m making light of the situation a bit.  This is a serious situation.  But we have gotten ourselves into this mess.  We have been deliberately diminishing our water resources in the western US for a long time.

It’s just that the thought of water scarcity is a bit more evident now.

The good news?  We’ve gotten ourselves into this mess, and we can get ourselves out.  But it won’t be easy and it won’t be painless.  Those in California are already beginning to feel the pain.

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


California Adopts “Unprecedented” Restrictions On Water Use As Drought Worsens

California Adopts “Unprecedented” Restrictions On Water Use As Drought Worsens

Early last month we warned that California’s drought was approaching historic proportions and that if climatologists were to be believed, the country may see a repeat of The Dirty Thirties as experts cite “Dust Bowl” conditions. Governor Jerry Brown has called for statewide water restrictions aimed at reducing consumption by 25%.

Now, the conservation calls are getting much louder as the state’s water regulators have approved “unprecedented” measures aimed at curtailing the crisis.

Via AP:

California water regulators adopted sweeping, unprecedented restrictions Tuesday on how people, governments and businesses can use water amid the state’s ongoing drought, hoping to push reluctant residents to deeper conservation.

The State Water Resources Control Board approved rules that force cities to limit watering on public property, encourage homeowners to let their lawns die and impose mandatory water-savings targets for the hundreds of local agencies and cities that supply water to California customers.

Gov. Jerry Brown sought the more stringent regulations, arguing that voluntary conservation efforts have so far not yielded the water savings needed amid a four-year drought. He ordered water agencies to cut urban water use by 25 percent from levels in 2013, the year before he declared a drought emergency…

Despite the dire warnings, it’s also still not clear that Californians have grasped the seriousness of the drought or the need for conservation. Data released by the board

Tuesday showed that Californians conserved little water in March, and local officials were not aggressive in cracking down on waste.

A survey of local water departments showed water use fell less than 4 percent in March compared with the same month in 2013. Overall savings have been only about 9 percent since last summer.

Under the new rules, each city is ordered to cut water use by as much as 36 percent compared with 2013.

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



How Much Water Does The California Oil Industry Actually Use?

How Much Water Does The California Oil Industry Actually Use?

When California Governor Jerry Brown issued mandatory water restrictions for the first time in state history, he notably excluded the agriculture and oil industries from the conservation efforts, a decision that was heavily criticized.

The oil industry, for its part, insists it is a responsible user of water. The Western States Petroleum Association, an oil industry lobbying group, for instance, wrote that “Oil companies are doing their part to conserve, recycle and reduce the water they use to produce oil and refine petroleum products.”

Some perspective is certainly needed here: the amount of water used to produce oil in California is, in fact, dwarfed by the amount used for agriculture. But the thing is, the state can’t make any fully informed decisions about whether or not to include oil development in water cuts because no one knows exactly how much water the California oil industry is using in the first place. That all changes on April 30, however.

Last September, Governor Brown signed into law SB 1281, which requires companies to make quarterly reports to state regulators at the Division of Oil, Gas and Geothermal Resources (DOGGR) detailing the source and volume of water — whether fresh, treated, or recycled — used during oil development processes, including extreme oil extraction methods like fracking, acidization and steam injection. The first set of data required to be reported to DOGGR under SB 1281 is due at the end of the month.

Required reporting on water usage is an important first step in devising an effective water conservation plan for drought-wracked California, Peter Gleick, president of the Pacific Institute, tells DeSmogBlog.

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



California drought to squeeze produce prices, but so will other factors

California drought to squeeze produce prices, but so will other factors

Price of lettuce has gone up 40 cents, but some of that is due to low Canadian dollar

Drought may have gripped California’s agricultural heartland for a fourth consecutive year, but it’s not the only factor putting pressure on imported produce prices at the supermarket.

More than 93 per cent of the state is currently experiencing “severe” to “exceptional” drought, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor, and the governor recently implemented new rationing measures for cities and towns to cut water use by 25 per cent.

Farmers have so far been exempt from those restrictions — even though they use 80 per cent of the state’s developed water supply. Still, many have had their usual federal allocations of water reduced to zero for the second year in a row and have had to draw more heavily on groundwater sources or purchase water from contractors and other farmers — for as much as 10 times the usual rates. Others are switching to more efficient irrigation methods and less water-intensive crops or letting some land go fallow.

John Bishop, a produce buyer for distributor Fresh Start Foods in Milton, Ont. says his Californian tomato suppliers are planning for a smaller crop this June.

“They have told me that they are reducing their acreage by 20 per cent because they don’t have enough water to be able to continue to grow the way they’ve grown in the past,” he said.

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The Silver Lining in the California Drought

The Silver Lining in the California Drought

Denial, it’s been said, is not just a river in Egypt.

It runs, of course, through each of us. But Californians have displayed quite a dose of it as a record-breaking drought rolls through its fourth year.

It was just last week, propelled by the lowest snowpack in the Sierra Nevada in recorded history, that Governor Jerry Brown announced mandatory water-use cutbacks averaging 25 percent for the state’s 400 municipal water utilities.

With only one year of water supply left in the state’s surface reservoirs, and rampant depletion of groundwater, the world’s eighth largest economy and the nation’s premier producer of fruits and vegetables is in some trouble.

Scientists have determined that this drought, which began in 2012, may be the worst the state has experienced in 1200 years.

Yet cities still use potable water to irrigate grass along road medians. The Santa Fe Irrigation District in southern California, which, despite its name, supplies not farms but some 19,300 people, tallied residential water use in February 2015 of 345 gallons per person per day—4.5 times the state average for that month and up 30 percent from two years earlier.

The state’s water use in February 2015 was only 2.8 percent lower than it was in February 2013, which, according to the Los Angeles Times, officials called an “alarming trend.”

Clearly, the governor’s urging a year earlier for voluntary water-use reductions of 20 percent had come to little effect.

Meanwhile, some 44 percent of California’s 9 million acres of crops are flood-irrigated. That means far more water is applied to the land than the crops require. While some of it seeps down to groundwater, recharging depleted aquifers, it can pollute those aquifers with farm chemicals. Some of the irrigation water simply evaporates into the dry air.


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Smart Meters: Enforcement Of Mandatory Water Restrictions Is Only Just The Beginning

Smart Meters: Enforcement Of Mandatory Water Restrictions Is Only Just The Beginning

Smart meters are now being used by authorities to crack down on “water wasters” in the state of California, but this is just the tip of the iceberg as far as what they can be used for.  Ultimately, smart meters are designed to be part of an entire “smart grid” that will enable government bureaucrats “to control everything from your dishwasher to thermostat“.   And in recent years, there has been a massive push to install smart meters in as many homes in the United States and Europe as possible.  Back in December 2007, there were only 7 million smart meters installed in this country.  Today there are more than 51 million.  On the other side of the Atlantic, the European Parliament has set a goal of having smart meters in 80 percent of all homes by the year 2020.  This is being promoted as the “green” thing to do, but could it be possible that there is more to these smart meters than meets the eye?

In Long Beach, California authorities were getting complaints that a local McDonald’s restaurant was wasting water in the middle of the night.

So what did the authorities do?

They installed a smart meter which instantly started providing incriminating evidence against McDonald’s.  The following comes from CBS Los Angeles

The Long Beach Water Department says sprinklers at a McDonald’s restaurant on Bellflower Boulevard went on for 45 minutes at a time, twice a night, for an undefined number of nights. Complaints continued to mount as water pooled and wasted. The department, however, could do little about the wasting.

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


After Warmest Winter, Drought-Stricken California Limits Water But Exempts Thirstiest Big Growers

After Warmest Winter, Drought-Stricken California Limits Water But Exempts Thirstiest Big Growers

As California’s record drought continues, Gov. Jerry Brown has ordered residents and non-agricultural businesses to cut water use by 25 percent in the first mandatory statewide reduction in the state’s history. One group not facing restrictions under the new rules is big agriculture, which uses about 80 percent of California’s water. The group Food & Water Watch California has criticized Brown for not capping water usage by oil extraction industries and corporate farms, which grow water-intensive crops such as almonds and pistachios, most of which are exported out of state and overseas. Studies show the current drought, which has intensified over the past four years, is the worst California has seen in at least 120 years. Some suggest it is the region’s worst drought in more than a thousand years. This comes after California witnessed the warmest winter on record. We speak with environmental reporter Mark Hertsgaard, author of the book, “Hot: Living Through the Next Fifty Years on Earth.”


Californians Outraged As Oil Producers & Frackers Excluded From Emergency Water Restrictions

Californians Outraged As Oil Producers & Frackers Excluded From Emergency Water Restrictions

California’s oil and gas industry is estimated (with official data due to be released in coming days) to use more than 2 million gallons of fresh water per day; so it is hardly surprising that, as Reuters reports, Californians are outraged after discovering that these firms are excluded from Governor Jerry Brown’s mandatory water restrictions, “forcing ordinary Californians to shoulder the burden of the drought.”

From Reuters,

California should require oil producers to cut their water usage as part of the administration’s efforts to conserve water in the drought-ravaged state, environmentalists said on Wednesday.

Governor Jerry Brown ordered the first statewide mandatory water restrictions on Wednesday, directing cities and communities to cut their consumption by 25 percent. But the order does not require oil producers to cut their usage nor does it place a temporary halt on the water intensive practice of hydraulic fracturing.

California’s oil and gas industry uses more than 2 million gallons of fresh water a day to produce oil through well stimulation practices including fracking, acidizing and steam injection, according to estimates by environmentalists. The state is expected to release official numbers on the industry’s water consumption in the coming days.

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





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