1 Apr 2009

Sustainable SoCal

One reason I decided NOT to support the Peripheral Canal was my belief that SoCal should reduce its dependence on imported water.

Urban areas could easily get by with less, since 50-70 percent of urban water consumption is used for lawns and other outdoor irrigation.

Agricultural areas would clearly take a hit, but farmers with less water to work with wouldn't necessarily lose money -- they would have to get "more dough per row" by switching to garden crops, etc. My instinct is that they would lose (though market allocations where they would sell water to the highest bidders -- mostly cities) about 2/3rds of their water but only 1/3 of their revenue/profits as they switched from cheaper commodity crops (raisins, cotton, wheat, alfalfa, etc.) to fresh garden crops -- and that doesn't include the money they will make selling water!

Anyway, some urbanites welcome the idea of making do with local water supplies (via DW):
Miguel Luna, director of the grass-roots environmental organization Urban Semillas... [says] “Importing water creates a need. You’re providing the pipe and the crack for free and then you have to pay for it. But we know locally that local infrastructure works. We just need the investment to do it.”

Think about it: With the $5 billion Schwarzenegger wants to invest in his [Peripheral] canal, Los Angeles could build 10 water recycling facilities the size of Orange County’s Groundwater Replenishment System, which makes five million gallons of sewage drinkable every day. At the march, Nahai talked up the city’s “water-supply action plan,” a wide-ranging effort to wean the city off the dwindling supply of imported water.
Bottom Line: We need more creative thinking of how to get the most bang for our buck -- not just more dams and canals.

9 comments:

  1. "Agricultural areas would clearly take a hit, but farmers with less water to work with wouldn't necessarily lose money -- they would have to get "more dough per row" by switching to garden crops, etc."

    You seem to be saying that a constrained maxima will be greater than an unconstrained maxima. I forget how this could work, could you remind me?

    Also, if growers could make more more money will less water, why aren't they doing that right now? Can you explain this without resorting to "farmers are dumb"?

    ReplyDelete
  2. $5 billion to build 10 water recycling facilities the size of Orange County’s Groundwater Replenishment System, which makes five million gallons of sewage drinkable every day.

    That equates to 56000 acre feet a year.... possibly full of PRIONS

    (Mad cow disease, CWD, scapes, kuru, FFI, GSSS and CJD are all prions. All known prion diseases, collectively called transmissible spongiform encephalopathies (TSEs), are untreatable and fatal !

    Prions can be denatured by subjecting them to a temperatures of 134 degrees Celsius (That’s 273 F !… water boils at 212 F) for 18 minutes in a pressurized steam autoclave! )

    Bottom Line: We need more creative thinking of how to get the most bang for our buck -- not just more dams and canals.

    More Creative thinking....How does a million acre feet of fresh water a year for the 5 Billion bucks sound ? If CA would be nice about it, the water could also be developed to be delivered without power and quagga mussel free.

    economical enough ?

    WaterSource waterrdw@yahoo.com

    ReplyDelete
  3. I may be the novice here, couldn't a desalination plant become a viable solution? Or would this create more environmental problems than it would solve?

    ReplyDelete
  4. @Anon -- good question, but no, I was not defying the laws of econmomics OR saying that farmers are dumb. I *do* say that farmers will lost 1/3 of revenue b/c they are growing less stuff (stopping the less-profitable stuff), but DO note that farmers selling water into a market with LESS supply will be receiving MORE money (per AF sold) than they could now. That's b/c the PC-less future would make exisiting, local water worth more... Could they make MORE money than they do now from food/water? Not sure, but it's possible.

    ReplyDelete
  5. @MattSF -- desal is costly (energy) AND creates HazMat (salts), so it's not such an obviously good solution...

    ReplyDelete
  6. @David "I *do* say that farmers will lost 1/3 of revenue b/c they are growing less stuff (stopping the less-profitable stuff), but DO note that farmers selling water into a market with LESS supply will be receiving MORE money (per AF sold) than they could now."


    "Could they make MORE money than they do now from food/water? Not sure, but it's possible."

    How is this possible? Still have the constrained maxima greater than the unconstrained maxima issue.


    I think profit is MUCH more important than revenue. Will landowners (not farmers) make more money selling water than crops?

    Right now the Drought Water Bank is offering landowners $275 per AF for water north of the delta. This translates to $800-900 per acre. Owner/operators of rice ground can make in excess of $1200 per acre growing rice.

    Not surprisingly, there isn't a whole lot of interest from landowners in the DWB deal.

    Also, you might want to check your instinct with some facts about the crops you are using as examples. Wheat uses about 0.5 AF per acre, mostly during the winter...there isn't much water to transfer. Wheat is also used as a rotation/weed control crop. Cotton acreages are rapidly declining already. Alfalfa (Seth Hoyt's report notwithstanding) has been a relatively high value crop with important environmental benefits. Raisins use about 2.3 AF of applied water http://coststudies.ucdavis.edu/files/grraisctneweqsjv06.pdf Consumptive use is less.

    Where will growers sell these "garden crops"? I am assuming that "garden crops" means fresh produce.

    ReplyDelete
  7. @Anon -- I am NOT talking about NofDelta water, but markets SofDelta.

    Here's an example: You have 10 AF of water; I have 10 AF of water. With that supply, we can sell water for $40/AF. If I am out of the picture, you can make more/AF selling into that same market b/c supply has fallen.

    We agree on profit. DWR screwed the pooch on the DWB.

    ReplyDelete
  8. "...as they switched from cheaper commodity crops (raisins, cotton, wheat, alfalfa, etc.) to fresh garden crops..."

    Except what if their land is not well suited to fresh garden crops? Or their cash flow is not well suited to garden crops (most veg crops require high cash input due to their labor intensive nature and are thus high risk).

    And with this sudden increase in garden crop acreage (increase in supply), do you think prices will still remain high?

    Not to mention that in many of those areas that you're talking about, most of the farmed land is not owned by the farmer, which throws a kink into a lot of these assumptions.

    Taking these things into consideration, it's not much of a stretch to imagine a lot of farmers going out of business (or being forced out of business when their landowner sells the water out from under them), and one region suffering significant economic hardship so that another region can prosper at their expense.

    Just playing devil's advocate.

    ReplyDelete
  9. @CRG -- maybe you're right on some of these (I dont think so, but there's no way to "prove it"), but my point is that what cannot go on (water-import-supported ag must stop AND that farmers can adjust. Some don't want to, some will go out of business, but the GOOD farmers will find a way to stay in business and probably prosper. The point is that the govt is NOT in the job of defending the status quo (except that lots of pols promise that...)

    ReplyDelete

Spam will be deleted. Comments on older posts must be approved.
If you're having problems posting, email your comment to me