4 Dec 2009

The cost of living underwater

...as in Delta land that's below sea-level (via JWT):
...each square meter of pasture loses about 2/10ths of a gram of carbon per day. It sounds small – until you realize that across the entire delta 20,000 cubic meters of peat disappear each day.

Hundreds of pumps toil to remove water that seeps through the levees, a Sisyphean task. No one knows the exact amount, but on an average day, they probably push more than 300 million gallons of water uphill over the levees, consuming fossil fuels and emitting carbon dioxide as they do.
Scary.

4 comments:

  1. Unfortunately, the subsidence due to the loss of peat is only part of the concerns of the integrity of the Delta. Consider the affects of an earthquake on the integrity of the Delta infrastructure.

    http://www.ppic.org/content/pubs/report/R_207JLChapter3R.pdf

    http://www.climatechange.ca.gov/events/2008_conference/presentations/2008-09-09/Ben_Brooks.pdf

    http://escholarship.org/uc/item/4k44725p

    http://www.water.ca.gov/floodmgmt/dsmo/sab/drmsp/docs/Mount_Twiss_Levee_Report.pdf

    http://www.epa.gov/OEM/docs/oil/fss/fss06/port_2.pdf

    http://www2.decf.berkeley.edu/~mrrogers/Files/levees_whitepaper_MRR.pdf

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  2. Consider the effects of an earthquake to the Delta-Mendota canal, or the city of San Francisco. We should move them all.

    As for the pumping, I'm all for some changes in the Delta's structure, but we also must consider the pumping of water uphill to Westlands, Kern, and L.A. 2% of our state's total energy consumption goes just to the canals down the Valley.

    Also, David, the link didn't work, so I couldn't read it.

    This pumping concern is exactly the focus that folks get to place on the Delta, with lenses they do not turn on themselves. How much water does the city of Sacramento pump uphill to its consumers? And L.A.? And San Francisco (Hetch-Hetchy is gravity fed, but it ain't the only game in town there, believe me).

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  3. @Anon -- agreed. Another problem.

    @Josh -- link fixed, sorry. The Delta is bigger, so it's harder to "protect." LA gets lots of gravity water as well, but I take your point on energy. (You will read elsewhere that I oppose most water exports -- P Canal -- for that reason, as well as environmental impacts.)

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  4. Oh, I know you do. I just get frustrated when people (esp. anonymous up there) over-analyze the Delta, without then treating their concerns more generally. California has an earthquake threat- almost all of it, and esp. the large population centers.

    The Delta isn't much bigger in area than the Sacramento Metropolitan area, and is smaller than the Bay Area and the L.A. Metropolitan area. It's total waterways are only slightly longer than the combined Delta-Mendota and Ca. Aqueduct. It's population is much smaller than the major metropolitan areas of the State. It is only bigger in the sense that so many people rely on water that would otherwise pass through it.

    There are too many distortions about this region.

    One last point: The Delta may pump some water, but how much water should places like San Fran. be pumping, instead of letting it flow, unhindered and unfiltered and untreated, directly to the Bay.

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