San Diego long-timers will bear water conservation burden

Despite drought, SANDAG says real estate development should continue.

Some scientists warn of a 200-year drought.
  • Some scientists warn of a 200-year drought.

Long-range drought forecasts get bleaker, while long-range economic and demographic forecasts get giddier. Something’s gotta give, San Diego. Both forecasts aren’t likely to be right.

The reality is that the people who really run the city and county — real estate developers — take the sunny and greedy view. This means that San Diego must undergo a massive sociocultural change before it is capable of tackling the massive water problems that probably lie ahead.

Steve Erie

Steve Erie

“This is a town that historically has been run by and for real estate developers,” says Steve Erie, professor of political science at the University of California San Diego. He is right. The city and county have been run by the real estate industry, which, along with the military/aerospace complex, has dominated the economy and politicians for decades.

Scientists point out that a megadrought — one lasting decades or centuries — is possible. Why? California has had them before. In medieval times, there was a California megadrought that lasted more than a century. Southern California has had three megadroughts in the past 400 years. Some scientists warn of a 200-year drought. Some climatologists say that conditions like the devastating 1930s Dust Bowl could become normal.

California is in the fourth year of its worst drought since record-keeping began in the 19th Century. Odds of a decade-long Southwest drought at some time during this century are around 50 percent, and some scientists say 80 percent is more like it. The likelihood of a 35-year Southwest drought is 10 to 50 percent, depending on how severe the effects of climate change are.

Global warming worsens any drought. The most dire predictions say increased temperatures could reduce storage in the Sierra Nevada snowpack by almost 90 percent by the end of this century.

“We have to realize that the governor [Jerry Brown] means business,” says Erie. “There could be another 25 percent cut mandated next year.” San Diego gets around 25 percent of its water from Imperial County. He believes that is in jeopardy because of Imperial health problems tied to the drying up of the Salton Sea. Whatever happens, San Diego water bills will soar even more, particularly if the county goes the extremely expensive desalination route.

So, there is a good chance that current generations, and/or future generations, are going to go through hell. Scientific evidence suggests that the 20th Century was aberrationally wet. The Southwest water infrastructure was constructed with that century as a model. Possibly, it’s back to the drawing board.

Population growth is expected to decline.

Population growth is expected to decline.

In the 20th Century, California had a great inrush of population. It’s possible there will be a great outrush in the 21st Century.

San Diego County population, housing, and jobs are expected to grow.

San Diego County population, housing, and jobs are expected to grow.

But the San Diego County Water Authority believes the county will have enough water to keep the builders creating new homes as population surges. The San Diego Association of Governments projects that county population will rise 40 percent to 4.385 million between 2008 and 2050. The city will grow by 45.9 percent in the same time span, to 1.946 million.

Marney Cox

Marney Cox

Marney Cox, chief economist for the San Diego Association of Governments, says, “Our forecasts don’t have extreme positions in them.” Economists and demographers take the possibility of traumatic events into account, but they take “the middle of the road, which is most likely to happen.”

Cox says the popular notion that agriculture takes 80 percent of state water is not true. Actually, he says, agriculture takes 40 percent and environmental considerations (such as making some water off-limits to protect a rare fish species) take another 40 percent. If the water situation gets really bad, “there will be pressure to change the environmental laws,” says Cox.

Also, the market system and technology will play a role in producing more water, says Cox. He cites fracking in the oil industry. It has made the United States energy independent and driven down the price of oil. “Water will be a resource that will get a lot of attention; market forces will be unleashed, technology will look at it.”

Then Cox gets to the critical question: if water remains in extremely short supply, should the city and county cut back on new housing construction? No, he insists. “The best way to deal with the drought is to incorporate a program that has existing residents [responsible for] greater amounts of conservation,” says Cox. That is, expect the people already in San Diego to do the bulk of conserving water.

“Cutting off residential permits is not going to do it. We shouldn’t go there,” he says. Why? Such a move would have “little to no impact.” The percentage of water consumption by new homes is a small piece of the whole, and new housing developments are “substantially more efficient” in water usage, he says.

Hogwash, ripostes Erie. “The promise of more water for real estate development is just more San Diego happy talk,” he says. San Diego is “delusional — in denial.” For example, the big housing/retail/office development planned for Carmel Valley, One Paseo, in its original design, was “just insanity.” The San Diego Association of Governments and the water authority “do not plan for the worst-case scenarios.”

Stuart Hurlbert, professor emeritus of biology at San Diego State University, is one who proselytizes for population stabilization. He is president of Scientists and Environmentalists for Population Stabilization. He is fighting an uphill battle: “Mainline media are all basically carrying water for the building industry and the chamber of commerce. The voice of population stabilization doesn’t get around,” he says.

He believes that the county and city will achieve the population growth forecast by the San Diego Association of Governments. “The county and city could grow that fast, but it would be a social and environmental disaster,” says Hurlbert. Filling the county with high-rises, condos, and the like would be “forcing people into a lower standard of living.”

Kelly Cunningham

Kelly Cunningham

Kelly Cunningham, economist for the National University System Institute for Policy Research, looks at the forecasts of San Diego population in 2050 and says, “It is hard to see that happening.” He sees “an animosity toward building” as a result of the water crisis. “We have to rely on water being transported here, and California is not doing a really good job of transporting water.”

Last year, San Diego County added 7000 housing units while the population went up 35,000. “We needed 13,000 housing units to accommodate that growth.”

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Don, Someone is right and the rest wrong. San Diego has a lot to offer for the tourist and those who like mild weather. The greater problem is jobs. The cost of living and the cost of housing in San Diego is out of whack with pay. San Diego built Temecula. Temecula is now expanding. You can buy a 4 bedroom 3 bath 2 car garage new home for what a 2bd 1 ba car garage 60 year old rehabbed track house will cost you. Go north on I 15 from Escondido at 6:30 am and you will see a solid line of cars coming from Temecula.

AlexClarke: I have often wondered if the Census Bureau should redraw San Diego's metro area to include Temecula and environs. Best, Don Bauder

Not likely, since Temecula is in Riverside County, and thus part of the Inland Empire.

dwbat: Yes, but Census regularly counts towns in adjoining states as part of a metro area. For example, the upscale towns like Darien in Connecticut are part of New York City's metro area. The decision is based on how much the town is tied to the major metro area economically. Best, Don Bauder

Metropolitan statistical areas are not determined by the Census Bureau. They are determined by the OMB.

danfogel: I will check that. It's Census that uses them the most. Best, Don Bauder

danfogel: Checked it. You are correct. OMB sets the parameters. Best, Don Bauder

What bothers me is that so many police, deputies, firefighters, teachers and other fundamental social support workers have to live in Temecula. These people have to battle a miserable commute on top of having stressful, demanding jobs. It's a shame that our first responders and educators live so far away in a different county than the venue they serve.

Ponzi: I haven't checked recently, but Temecula housing prices have been a good deal lower than San Diego County's. Best, Don Bauder

What remedy would you propose? Paying them even more? The people you named already make more than most everyone else, even before you consider the value of their health benefits and pensions. Would you agree that we could just make living within the service area a requirement for their job, and not allow them to choose to selfishly live somewhere with lower housing costs, thereby enriching themselves at our expense? I kinda doubt it... I bet you think the answer is yet more money.

jnojr: You make a good point that so many public sector jobs pay better than equivalent private sector jobs -- and those in the public sector have job security, in the main, and better retirement and health benefits. Best, Don Bauder

Mike Richmond: Steve Erie, co-author of the excellent book on San Diego, "Paradise Plundered," is a perspicacious viewer of San Diego's political and economic trends. That's why he is quoted so often in the Reader, and barely at all in the U-T. Best, Don Bauder

Our lawn is long gone. The unpaved half of the back yard is indoor-outdoor carpet, which is 90% cheaper than 500 square feet of "artificial turf". The front yard is covered in free mulch from Miramar Landfill.

The last rain filled our 4 rain-barrels. We keep a bucket in the bath-tub to collect the initial unheated gallon of hot water before showering from a low-flow shower head. We use dishpans in the kitchen to save the gray water after doing the dishes by hand. (We don't own a dishwasher.) Dishes are washed only once a day, after soaking in said dish-pan. Gray water & rain-barrel water only is hand applied to plants.

The low-flow toilet's water remains yellow from 7:00PM to 7:00AM, with a side benefit of not disturbing light sleepers with the loud flushing noise. Laundry is done only once a week. There are 3 full loads for 2 people. We pay to have the cars washed at the North Park Car Wash.

“The best way to deal with the drought is to incorporate a program that has existing residents [responsible for] greater amounts of conservation,” says Cox. That is, expect the people already in San Diego to do the bulk of conserving water.

There's an old adage: When you do more than is expected of you, pretty soon more will be expected of you.

Frederick Simson: You have anticipated the coming woes and done an excellent job preparing for those days. It's possible this won't be a six-year or ten-year drought, but it's wisest to be prepared. Best, Don Bauder

Fredrick: And no matter how much you conserve your rate will go up. When more and more people switched to high mileage vehicles the price of gas went up. The more you conserve, and we must, the more your water will cost. I am at the low end of electric users and what does the corrupt SDG&E want? They want me to pay more for less.

AlexClarke: Frederick Simson noted, "When you do more than is expected of you, pretty soon more will be expected of you." Wise words. Best, Don Bauder

Alex, aren't you the one who said on another thread that you're a retired millionaire due to wise investments you made? If so, why is your electric bill of any concern?

dwbat: Even billionaires worry about their electric bills. In California, they are justified in doing so. Best, Don Bauder

No, that statement is absolute nonsense. Regular working (and retired) people, yes; WE are concerned about our utility bills. But for millionaires (and esp. billionaires), the amounts they spend on electricity, water, natural gas, cell phones and cable at home are trivial. It has NO effect whatsoever on their bank account or lifestyle. By the way, the question was asked of someone else.

dwbat: With all due respect, I don't think you understand multi-millionaires and billionaires. Yes, electricity, water, natural gas, and cable costs are a much smaller percentage of their net worth. But the wealthy fret about costs more than others. How do you think they became wealthy? Best, Don Bauder

The old-fashioned way--they stole it. Directly or "indirectly."

Twister: There is an old saying that every large enterprise began with a fraud. There is something to that. Best, Don Bauder

A billionaire who frets about his home utility bills should be taken out and horsewhipped!

dwbat: Better to horsewhip a pauper than a billionaire. Police respond to billionaires' complaints. Best, Don Bauder

Billionaires don't become wealthy from turning off lights in their mansions to save on electricity. Or fretting about how much a new suit or a dozen roses costs. That's a stupid analogy. Your argument is specious.

dwbat: Billionaires are motivated by greed (with the exception of some who inherited the loot, and take delight in spending it.) The greed-obsessed pay attention to the money coming in, but also try to limit the money going out. Indeed, the billionaire may be more indignant about an inflated utility bill than the Average Joe or Jane.

To a billionaire, every dollar is precious. The argument is neither stupid nor specious. It reflects reality. Best, Don Bauder

Once again, the inference that worrying about utility bills allows the person to become wealthy is total nonsense. There's no connection there, in spite of your saying so. If these slimeballs worry about employees getting a $250 raise when they have 5000 employees, OK, I can understand their greed. But my point is that they have NO justification in fretting about the home electric/water bill which maybe costs them $250.00. That's a sickness that calls for mental health counseling.

"Cox says the popular notion that agriculture takes 80 percent of state water is not true. Actually, he says, agriculture takes 40 percent and environmental considerations (such as making some water off-limits to protect a rare fish species) take another 40 percent."

Cox would say that the popular notion that eggs are sold by the dozen is not true. Actually, they are sold in boxes of 12.

ImJustABill: Economist Marney Cox went on to say that if the crisis got bad enough, environmental laws would have to be changed. I interpreted that to mean they would have to be loosened or perhaps wiped away. I think he is right on that, although, personally, I do not think that is wise. Best, Don Bauder

I suspect that what's behind Cox's fondest hopes is that when it comes to salmon or lawns, the voters will vote for lawns.

I think the word "drought" is overused. I do realize that the rainfall over the past few years is well below average - but you know what - rainfall is below average about half the time.

The problem isn't that we have a drought. The problem is that CA doesn't get much rain.

Even more fundamental than that is there is a difference between the supply of water in CA and the demand for water in CA and there doesn't seem to be a good system in place to negotiate between supply and demand. As far as I can tell there is an arcane mish-mash of (pseudo) free markets, government controls, senior and junior water rights holders, and just good old theft.

We knew decades ago that at some point we'd hit a stretch of relatively low rainfall. So we shouldn't have emergency measures in place. We should have had a system in place which could adjust appropriately to varying levels of water supply and water demand.

I think rather than blaming the "drought" I'd rather see our leaders try to come up with long term solutions for problems which should have been solved decades ago.

The ongoing removal of lawns across CA is certainly going to help deal with less water available. It should have been done years ago. But better late than never, to switch to xeriscaping.

Rather than doing their job and coming up with solutions to problems that have the greatest impact on the problem with the least cost and inconvenience to constituents sometimes politicians like to come up solutions that seem like they're doing a lot but don't really have much impact.

For example, TSA agents have forced mothers to drink their own breast milk. This does nothing to fight terrorism but sends a (false) message that the leaders are doing a good job fighting terrorism.

As a resident personally I will fight and argue against any forced removal of lawns and forced water cutbacks unless the state leaders show they are serious about re-thinking our ancient water rules and distribution systems.

Sorry if I have a bad attitude about this but frankly I think our political leaders are taking advantage of a lot of well-meaning people just so that big ag business campaign contributors can continue to make a lot of money.

ImJustABill: You are not suffering from a bad attitude. You are a realist. Best, Don Bauder

Removing lawns will accomplish NOTHING.

Approximately half the state's water usage goes to 'the environment". That's off the table. About 40% (or 80% of what's left after we remove the "untouchable" "environmental" half) goes to agriculture. That, too, is off the table... we're told that they have "senior water rights", and because their great-great-great grandaddy got here 150 years ago them must be able to help themselves to all the water they want.

So we're left with a mere 10% for EVERYTHING else. Of that, about 7% is for non-agricultural business and about 3% is for ALL residential usage. Even if every lawn and fountain in the state was ripped out tomorrow, the net effect would be a fraction of a percentage. Meanwhile, building permits are issued by the thousands and the tens of thousands.

If you want to solve the problem, you have to address the actual problem, not the just the low-hanging fruit or your own preconceptions. If you aren't willing to address the actual problem, then taking meaningless half-measures isn't going to accomplish anything, even if that's "all we can possibly do".

jnojr: Agricultural usage is already being addressed voluntarily, but much more can be done. If you believe that 40 percent of the state's water goes for the "environment"-- and I for one am not sure I agree with that -- then egregious misuses can be addressed legislatively. Best, Don Bauder

ImJustABill: The word "drought" is descriptive and used by scientists. You are correct that California's system for distributing water is outdated. Best, Don Bauder

The word "drought" is indeed used by scientists but there is no standard definition. So to me that's an unscientific term. It's like saying something is "big" or "small" or "heavy" without any context.

ImJustABill: Yes, California knew decades ago that it would likely face serious drought and a water crisis. But there was not the political will to tackle a problem whose possible consequences lay so far in the future. In the U.S., it takes a crisis to awaken the people. We're not the only nation with such shortsightedness. Best, Don Bauder

dwbat: The entire Southwest should have taken such moves years ago. But how many societies think ahead? Best, Don Bauder

Quite a few, the facts will show you. France, Japan, etc. thought way ahead about the need for high-speed trains, so they built them. Many countries thought ahead (decades ago) about the need for healthcare for all their citizens. Israel thought ahead about the necessity to have extreme security at its airports. There are more examples; try Google Search.

dwbat: Japan permitted the installation of numerous utility nuclear plants despite its history of earthquakes. Israel's violent taking of land from its neighbors is an example of NOT thinking ahead.

The former Soviet Union created an economic mare's nest by trying to produce goods without getting signals from the market. The United States pursued the Cold War relentlessly for decades, but the Soviet Union was collapsing. It was a colossal waste of funds.

The Iraq War concocted by Cheney and George W. Bush was the most disgraceful act in our history. Now we are in the Middle East and can't get out. The list goes on and on. Best, Don Bauder

Note that I didn't mention that the U.S. thinks ahead. I said "many countries" but not here.

Fred Schnaubelt: Some economists blame zoning regulations and other developer requirements and costs as a major factor driving up housing prices. Certainly, they do help raise prices, but I don't believe they are the major factor at all. Prices are out of sight in the Bay Area, L.A., and San Diego largely because these are desirable places to live Governments have the right -- in many cases the obligation -- to impose such controls on housing.

(I know this does not gibe with your lilbertarian views.)

California has high taxes but prices continue to soar in the coastal cities. The taxes haven't inhibited development.

I think that it may soon be time to put another restriction housing: slowing residential development, or even stopping it temporarily, depending on how bad the drought gets, and whether San Diego can provide more water. (The water from Imperial may be in danger, for example.) Best, Don Bauder

Fred holds up Houston as an example of a well run Nirvana. Too bad we're not just like Houston.

FibrkMike: I remember when the economist John Kenneth Galbraith debated a San Diegan who did not believe in zoning regulations, or any restraints on real estate development.

The San Diegan (whose name escapes me) cited Houston as a model of a city without constraints. Galbraith called it "that hideous Houston." Best, Don Bauder

Housing prices are up because there's a shortage of inventory. That's not my opinion; that's from Realtors I've talked to.

dwbat: The entire real estate industry, including realtors, will blame a shortage of inventory for the high housing prices. They have a stake in such a claim. Definitely, it is one of several factors in high home prices. Best, Don Bauder

There's no "stake in such a claim" involved. They just know the housing market better than most bloggers do. Let me explain it in simpler terms. A Realtor would rather sell a bunch of $400,000 homes rather than one or two homes at $1 million each. With a low inventory, there aren't many homes at that price. The average in North Park is around $500,000 now, and they are nothing special.

Kiki Cayton Jones: You may be right that nobody -- or at least very few -- living near the proposed One Paseo is in favor of the project. I don't think the recent redrawing and downscaling of plans will sway that many people. Best, Don Bauder

Over-designing projects is SOP. Sized down, the illusion of propriety is fulfilled.

Twister: Yes, as in many large projects, the original plans are deliberately inflated with the idea that they will be scaled down after political objections. Best, Don Bauder

RE: "Don Bauder May 28, 2015 @ 12:39 a.m.

"ImJustABill: Economist Marney Cox went on to say that if the crisis got bad enough, environmental laws would have to be changed. I interpreted that to mean they would have to be loosened or perhaps wiped away. I think he is right on that, although, personally, I do not think that is wise. Best, Don Bauder"

"They" think their troubles will be over when the Sacramento and other rivers are dry and there are not even the vestigial salmon runs left. "They" do not live in California, for the most part--they just suck it dry, figuratively, and now literally. When the Great Drought Exodus runs its course, the California economy will collapse, but "they" won't give a damn. "Today, California, tomorrow ze vorld!" And tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow.

Twister: You seem to be implying that environmentalists desire slower economic growth. Many do, for a variety of reasons, largely environmental. Since Wall Street is thriving on slower growth and concomitant faster money creation, the plutocrats should give a bow to the environmentalists. Best, Don Bauder

RE: "ImJustABill May 30, 2015 @ 8:18 a.m.

"Rather than doing their job and coming up with solutions to problems that have the greatest impact on the problem with the least cost and inconvenience to constituents sometimes politicians like to come up solutions that seem like they're doing a lot but don't really have much impact.

. . .

"As a resident personally I will fight and argue against any forced removal of lawns and forced water cutbacks unless the state leaders show they are serious about re-thinking our ancient water rules and distribution systems.

"Sorry if I have a bad attitude about this but frankly I think our political leaders are taking advantage of a lot of well-meaning people just so that big ag business campaign contributors can continue to make a lot of money."

Bill is on the money. No pun intended. See the acres of unused lush lawn at 32.873029, -117.213672 for example. California Bank and Trust. Not the worst, perhaps, but among the worst. What's their water use level? They won't tell you.

Nor will the City of San Diego reveal the water-use history of its facilities. All this for an effete affectation rooted in fantasy--mountain meadows in arid and semi-arid climes. Contrary to Hollywood-induced fantasy, Southern California is not a "tropical" paradise.

The so-called "drastic" measures such as alternating the days of irrigation, limiting the time to five minutes, not hosing down pavement, and threatening fines for violations could not be better designed for ineffectiveness, costliness, and counter-productivity--pure deceptive window-dressing. The ONLY factor that is relevant is the amount of water "demanded" and the amount needed. The difference is waste. That's the "low-hanging fruit," and a simple allocation plan that considers all of the relevant factors, and would be easy and cheap to do.

"Toilet-to-tap" and desalinization are sleight-of-hand tricks to make "them" big, BIG bucks.

But the "bottom" line is that unlimited demand upon a limited resource is simply not feasible.

Maybe a collapse is just the medicine "we" need. Anticipating the obvious, based on an honest assessment of the real elements of the issue, does not seem to be in our DNA. That, my friends, makes us dumber than cows.

Yes, Bill, it isn't a "drought" problem, it's a water-supply and water-use and water-waste problem.

Twister: Trouble is, ten or twenty years ago, before drought was as big a concern as it is today, the antiquated distribution system you describe seemed to work. It took a bad drought and fear of it lengthening that woke people up to the out-of-date system. It's another case of too late with too little. Best, Don Bauder

Thanks for the kind words.

I'd just like to see the legislature have an open and honest debate about long term resource planning in CA.

At this point it would seem like a statewide moratorium on building and development could at least be considered. It would seem to me that a complete restructuring of ancient water agreements could at least be considered.

I think the water restrictions tend to go against those who don't have the power (i.e. money) to fight them rather than having an open and honest statewide debate.

ImJustABill: I think you are right on a possible moratorium and a restructuring of out-of-date water agreements. But how many times does the state legislature have an open and honest debate about resource planning? Best, Don Bauder

I think he is 100% wrong on a moratorium happening. It's NOT the California way. This is not Colorado.

RE: " Don Bauder May 30, 2015 @ 10:31 p.m.

Twister: Trouble is, ten or twenty years ago, before drought was as big a concern as it is today, the antiquated distribution system you describe seemed to work. It took a bad drought and fear of it lengthening that woke people up to the out-of-date system. . . .

People tend to blame "drought" on God or Nature. Blaming someone else for the troubles that come around and bite us in the ass is a tired old deception that, like a population of zombies, keeps coming in an endless stream of lies and damned lies "backed up" by the "higher" order of lies, statistics.

But it's not that the actually relevant statistics lie in this case, it's that they are jealously guarded by the lackeys of the guilty. Without a revelation of the facts that underlie these lies, no disciplined, intellectually honest evaluation upon which a lasting solution can be based, is possible.

How much water is left in the system today?

At what rate is it being withdrawn?

How, in terms of relevant categories, is it being allocated?

What is the date at which, given the most pessimistic estimate of inflow/replenishment, it will be exhausted?

What is the date at which, given the most optimistic estimate of inflow/replenishment, it will be exhausted?

How much will be gained by sucking the rivers dry?

What is the date at which, given the most optimistic estimate of inflow/replenishment, it will be exhausted?

What then?

How many toilet-to-tap and desalination plants will be required (at what cost to whom) to carry on business-as-usual (for the one percent, of course)?

What will the rest of us be drinking? The filtered piss and s#it of those above us? Do we have any "legal" rights to the rain that God or Nature lets fall or will that be taken from us under riparian "rights" too? Time was, cisterns were in common use in San Diego; for an example, see the "Frost" mansion in Golden Hill on Broadway designed by Irving Gill. Its roof is designed with integrated gutters that feed into a big cistern. 32.716085, -117.141268

Twister: You have posed some excellent questions. And those questions should have been asked ten or twenty years ago when Californians thought their antiquated systems were working well. Best, Don Bauder

Bill, almost nobody wants and open and honest debate. Look at how few take the time to comment here at all. (I wish the Reader would include a readout of how many readers, as opposed to participants, there are. Just judging by the comments, however, Don must take the prize--why won't the Reader at least tell us that?) Take it as a badge of honor that none of the lackeys dare to debate you here.

Don, the reason open and honest debates are so rare is that the manipulators don't have the guts. They are long on rhetoric and short/absent logic. They can ignore all invitations to open and honest debate because they know from experience that they can wait us out. They know that these little discussions are mere venting exercises that are intellectually impotent, so will peter out. Like yesterday's newspapers, these discussions will end up at the bottom of the virtual bird cage.

Ain't that right, Fred? . . . Fred?

Twister: The major reason there are few if any honest and open debates about issues such as water and real estate development is money. The real estate developers run the state as well as San Diego. The developers pass money and favors to politicians.

A huge percentage of decisions by local governments are land use decisions. And we wonder why so many people enter politics? Best, Don Bauder

Then there is the news that the water table is not being replentished at a rate that would be consistent with use.

Fracking is really making a mess of things.

So--we, the general public--are being attacked on all fronts by corporate entities that just as well might call themselves Inching toward Death and Destruction.

Happy Monday, everyone.

This is happening all over the country, even in the flood-plagued center of the country. Understanding the water equation ain't rocket science, but those in charge of almost everything pointedly ignore the scientists who really know what they are talking about.

In fact, the better your knowledge, the more vigorously you're ignored. Just look at Joe Stiglits. A pariah.

Twister: Stiglitz is a great economist -- one who won a Nobel Prize. A candidate for president, Bernie Sanders, listens to Stiglitz, obviously.

It is probably true that the better your knowledge, the more vigorously you're ignored. Part of that is the fault of scientists and other scholars. They communicate in their own argot, thus shutting out Joe Six Pack. A story recently in the NY Times told how some scholars are trying to communicate in plain language. This is critical for such issues as drought. Best, Don Bauder

eastlaker: Fracking gets much of the blame. It is water-intensive. Fracking is responsible for making the United States energy independent. It is also greatly responsible for the plunge in oil prices.

Whose ox is getting gored? Best, Don Bauder

"And we wonder why so many people enter politics? Best, Don Bauder"

So, we vote against the money. "Candidates" who have the biggest "war chests" should get the least votes. Trouble is, people make their decisions based on what Big Media gives them. Trouble is, no matter how big the "donation" numbers seem to the 99 percent, they are a pittance compared to the amounts they can steal (unearned increment, not profit) by having lackey slaves in high places.

I know you've bravely got your fingers in the dike trying to hold back this horde, Don, but what we need is a way to collect, store, categorize, relate, and disseminate facts with a high degree of efficiency--such that the 99 percent come to automatically distrust any entity that feeds them what they want, then butchers them.

Twister: Unfortunately, there is a relationship between support of the big media and war chests of the candidates. Ad bucks buy support -- for politicians, as well as for businesses.

No one will teach you this in journalism school. But it's true. Best, Don Bauder

If there truly was a drought, there would be a moratorium on building permits until the water crisis had been addressed.

jnojr: California already has a drought. And I am not aware of any moratoria. Best, Don Bauder

The water crisis will not, CANNOT, be addressed. It will only get worse. I say again, one cannot continue with unlimited consumption of a finite resource, brown lawns or no brown lawns. Even if El Nino (El Ninyo) comes (ironic, ain't it?), the crisis will not be "addressed," it will only create a further false sense of security. It might delay the inevitable a little, but the enemy, The Child, The Saviour, is not to blame, or even God or Nature, it is us, it is US.

Twister: You have put your finger on the critical question: should the American Southwest never have been developed and populated in the way it has? Maybe the Southwest never could support the population and economic growth that it already has produced. Outflow, anyone?

A related question: was the 20th century aberrationally wet? The U.S. built its infrastructure, and encouraged population growth, assuming the 20th century was the model for the future. Suppose it was not? Best, Don Bauder

Both good points, Don. You were not merely wise, but prescient in moving to CO. The outflow resulting from the severely abbreviated flow will crack the CA economy, something like an "adjustment" in the stock market, addressing your second point.

Nature, of course, "makes" such "adjustments" too. Populations boom and bust for essentially the same reasons. For example, see "mouse plagues." Some ecologist should look into such population dynamics for different species and see which curves fit the data. Some extinctions may be just big busts, big crashes, to a depth from which the population can't recover.

However, since Homo sap. doesn't look at "himself" as one animal among many, and conceives of "himself" as vastly superior, this kind of introspection is not likely to happen, and if it does, "we" will persist in the seductive illusion that we are made in the image of God.

Organisms do what they can, when they can, where they can. Homo sap. believes "he" can do anything "he" wants. The fact that the development of culture has demonstrated that "improvements" can be made in the relatively short term (ten or fifteen thousand years or so), he believes he can persist in spite of himself. (Ain't ambiguity in the language grand?) Hell, even some of our most intelligent are stupid enough to believe that we can populate other planets. When we look at our reflection we don't see our souls, we see our images. Makeup anyone? (Gad, MORE AMBIGUITY, MORE IRONY!)

RE: "...prescient in moving to CO." Colorado appeals to some people [I can't understand why], but I never hear about droves of Californians moving there. Their winters are absolutely horrible. Relocating Californians tend to move to AZ, NV and UT--not CO. But most of us stay here because it's still a great state. I wouldn't move to CO if you gave me a free house.

dwbat: Even a money-making whore house? Best, Don Bauder

Uh, no. Especially that. Even if you threw in a free Mercedes with free gas, free groceries for life, no limit on water usage, all utilities paid, 100% free medical care, and a Macy's credit card.

. . . and oh, yeah, "drought" is relative. I have lived in luxury on 12 gallons per day. That's 4,380 gallons per year. That's 586 cubic feet or 5.8 hcf (see your water bill) or 7,000 cubic inches. Theoretically, if you could catch an inch of rainfall on 1,000 square feet, you could "harvest" 83 cubic feet, or 623 gallons, or about 52 days worth, about 1/7 of a year. So, if you captured that much rainwater on 1,000 square feet, you could live in relative luxury for 52 days or have enough to drink for, say, 623 days with a little left over. Two people could barely survive on that for a year. Twelve 55-gallon barrels, or six per person.

Or, you could flush your toilet 389 times (@ 1.6 gpf), or about once a day. So, if you captured twice as much, you could drink enough water to stay alive and flush your toilet once a day. Or get a composting toilet and use the rest to cook with. No showers, but at 12 gpd you can take a bath every day while standing in a washtub. Pour the gray water on your vegetable garden (agriculture will be essentially gone too, as prices will be driven out of sight except for the one percent.

People stealing fruit probably will be shot.

A little night science non-fiction musik. . .

Twister: Your mathematical skills are making me thirsty. I have to go get a glass of water. Best, Don Bauder

I occasionally operate on the theory that fact is funnier than fiction.

Kind of a more sophisticated version of my theory that some sh!t you just couldn't make up.

Re: " Don Bauder June 1, 2015 @ 7:31 p.m.

"Twister: You seem to be implying that environmentalists desire slower economic growth. Many do, for a variety of reasons, largely environmental. Since Wall Street is thriving on slower growth and concomitant faster money creation, the plutocrats should give a bow to the environmentalists. Best, Don Bauder"

Frankly, m'dear, I don't give much of a damn about what "environmentalists" desire. Although they mean well, most are too indulged in their own selfish fantasies to accomplish much. I will say that sometimes they have done more good than harm, and for that they deserve thanks--but extreme self-righteousness is typical in their ranks, to the point of not, if you will pardon the expression, seeing the forest for the trees. That's my bough.

Money, like blood, is meant to circulate, not lie in pools. Ambiguity and irony apparently cannot be avoided.

Twister: Now you are getting into an esoteric economic consideration: the velocity of money. Alas, Milton Friedman is dead and can't tell us all about it. I have no doubt there is such a thing as velocity of money, but I am not convinced we have a foolproof way to measure it. Best, Don Bauder

Oh, yeah. I cain't evun spel oikonomics.

Twister: Shucks. I wanted to write a long essay on the velocity of money. Best, Don Bauder

Ok, I won't chicken out just yet. But if the kitschen gets too hot, I may get out.

In the beginning, all property was held in common (for an easy read on part of this counter-intuitive concept, see The gift; forms and functions of exchange in archaic societies, by Mauss, Marcel, and The Gift: Imagination and the Erotic Life of Property, by Lewis Hyde).

It does take most people more than a bit of a stretch to get into this, and space is too limited here to adequately address the subject, but I will try . . .

When bonds between individuals is great, value as well as money becomes held in common (more recently, in "joint tenancy"). As cooperative societies are taken over by by cultural division, the concept of common ownership declines or disappears and exchange takes over. If you were a good flint-knapper, for example, you might not have to hunt. And the hunters would not have to knapp as much. More napping time for both.

As feasts became less moveable, and villages and cities became common, the one percent collected taxes for "protection." The need was real enough, however, as both need and desire combined in a time of increasing scarcity as Homo sap. became more and more successful.

I take it that I need not point out the modern state of this development in its present, vastly exaggerated form. Money becomes concentrated--"it takes money to make money."

A 'possum in the Okefenokee Swamp is smart enough to know where this has lead. And, presumably, where it is leading.

It's swamp all the way down.

Twister: I want to find out about that Erotic Life of Property. We have 36 acres. Best, Don Bauder

It may refer to the elgs in your case . . .

It's like the bachelors send in one guy to battle the stag, and while their horns are locked, the rest of 'em do the does.

Twister....unless a llama, the guardians, fight them off. Best, Don Bauder

Them Colorado elgs are some baaaad "dudes," man!

R.I.P

By the way, I have just posted elsewhere http://www.sandiegoreader.com/news/20... some additional information and comment on this issue.

RE: " Don Bauder June 2, 2015 @ 7:15 a.m.

"Twister: Stiglitz is a great economist -- one who won a Nobel Prize. A candidate for president, Bernie Sanders, listens to Stiglitz, obviously.

"It is probably true that the better your knowledge, the more vigorously you're ignored. Part of that is the fault of scientists and other scholars. They communicate in their own argot, thus shutting out Joe Six Pack. A story recently in the NY Times told how some scholars are trying to communicate in plain language. This is critical for such issues as drought. Best, Don Bauder"

Academic snobbery is a terrible, corrosive disease, and some (most) academics are among the ace back-stabbers of all time (wanna see my scars?). There have been a notable few who have resisted. Noam Chomsky once told me that he had "suffered under the guild" phenomenon all his life. "Professional" jealousy is vindictively vindictive, and everyone, academic or not, who tries to expose this tangled web of deceit and treachery will be attacked and slandered and whispered to death by a thousand cuts all her or his life. After death, they are slandered. Margaret Mead, for example. I had one big-time academic tell me once after we had had a few drinks that he lived in fear of being exposed. In his case, however, he was not, to my knowledge, one of the phonies; he just had a deep-seated inferiority complex largely based on his standards being so high. More irony.

I'm not at all sure of this, but the true sciences seem to be less back-stabbing than the "soft" sciences. Physics and even Geology are no where nearly as bad as some of the biological sciences, for example.

"Bio-numerology," sniffed one old-timer years ago when, to "prove" that their field was a "true" science, papers in some the biological sciences began being padded with Greek letters and pseudo-academic buzz-words to make them as incomprehensible as possible. This was actually pretty crafty--such papers were so convoluted and thick that no reviewer would take the time to pick apart all the tangled yarn and call bullshit bullshit. Not "politically correct," and the discredit would devolve to the discrediter. In the old day, the old masters would chop these fakers off at the ankles. Little (and big) fiefdoms have formed in some of the highest places, and young academics soon get the drift that the way to get ahead is to keep your mouth shut until you get on top, then, when you gain emeritus status you can finally tell it like it is. A great geneticist (who must go unnamed) once told me: "Now that I am retired I don't have to kiss anybody's ass anymore." I never had to kiss his either. [see next post]

[next post]

I'm all for scholars and academics communicating in plain language, but they should not condescend by presuming that non-academic reader aren't interested in references. In fact, I'd like to see "popular" writing, especially reporting, take up the practice.

Yes, this is critical for issues like "the drought" and water-supply/consumption/need/demand/waste. But notice one thing about most posts to your blog: When flat, plain statements are made, they are almost never challenged directly. Oh, what a great day it would be if some of the liars would come out from under their rocks and offer a direct and plain refutation to such statements. I'm not holding my breath, because, as you may have noticed, when it gets too hot in the kitschen that the opinionators clam up instead of stand up. One would think it would be pretty easy to point-by-point refute flat statements, no?

RE: " ImJustABill May 30, 2015 @ 8:08 a.m.

"The word "drought" is indeed used by scientists but there is no standard definition. So to me that's an unscientific term. It's like saying something is "big" or "small" or "heavy" without any context."

IJAB is right that drought is a squishy term--for a squishy subject. That maybe why it is confounding "public" understanding of the actual reality--that drought is about weather, not about water supply. A good scientist would define the term when she uses it, just like any other collective term should be. It might be "below average precipitation," which is itself squishy, or "precipitation diminished to the point that organisms dependent upon a greater amount to recover, survive, thrive, and reproduce are prevented from doing so," or any other definition that fits the context with which she is dealing.

Media manipulators have given drought a bad name by confounding it with water shortage, and as such failed to convey understanding rather than to compound ignorance.

"Water shortage" is the term that should be used in almost all cases where "drought" has been used, in effect, to blame the water shortage on God or Nature, simply because "we" have failed to be provident with our use of resources and base our planning on actual needs rather than whims, desires, fantasies, and wanton waste--of ANY resource (everything is connected to everything else, and everything affects everything else. Integration or dis-integration, those are our choices. That goes for our intellects as well. "Right here in River City, you say? Certainly, right here in River City." (Apologies to Edna St. Vincent Millay)

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