06 October 2015

WaterSmarts: Where's your water from?

The July WaterSmarts Calendar activity asked people to find where their community's water came from. These answers reveal a range of sources and uses.

Find the largest source of water (river, lake, groundwater, etc.) for your utility. Where are you? What's the source's name?
  1. South Lake Tahoe: Lake Tahoe
  2. Los Angeles: Los Angeles Aqueduct, State Water Project and Colorado River Aqueduct
  3. Glendale, CA: Colorado and Salt Rivers
  4. Lloydminster, Alberta: North Saskatchewan River
  5. Eugene, OR: McKenzie River
  6. Chicago: Lake Michigan
  7. Colombia: Chingaza Dam
  8. New York: A lake in the Catskills
What other users (cities, farms, ecosystems) extract from / discharge into your source?
  1. This water district is the only one around Lake Tahoe which draws water from groundwater. All the other water districts draw drinking water directly from Lake Tahoe.
  2. It seems after brief research that only Los Angeles can use LA Aqueduct water by city charter (isn't that a big part of the plot of Chinatown?). A ton of users use the SWP which brings water from the Sacramento - San Joaquin River Delta including Central Valley farmers and other counties north of LA. I don't even want to get into who uses the Colorado River before Los Angeles. (Short answer: Parts of Wyoming, Colorado, Utah, Nevada, New Mexico, most of Arizona, the Inland Empire and the Imperial Valley.)
  3. "The Colorado provides water to 40 million people in 7 states, also irrigates almost 5.5 million acres of farmland. The Salt provides a significant portion of the water supply for 4 million people and about 150,000 acres of irrigated ag"
  4. Probably the biggest users would be farms in Alberta followed by Edmonton.
  5. Agriculture, cities
  6. In order of quantity: thermoelectric power, public supply (water withdrawn by communities for commercial, industrial and domestic use), irrigation, and industrial use ("self-supplied" use by industry). And the Chicago Diversion, which accounts for 2.1 billion gallons per day!
  7. Hydroelectricity; farms
  8. Upstate NY farms, ecosystems, cities
Notes, comments or questions?
  1. South Tahoe PUD is mandated to ship ALL of the treated waste water out of the Tahoe Basin. They have an arrangement with Alpine County to ship the water into a holding basin and lake that is then used for agriculture irrigation. This costs rate payers millions of dollars a year. They could just as easily, and possibly for less money, treat the water to extremely clean conditions and recharge our own aquifiers, but no one has bothered to challenge this state mandated ruling.
  2. LADWP's website says that 60% of the city's water comes from the LA Aqueduct system. After doing some more cursory research, there's an article that says that Los Angeles is no longer getting water from the LA Aqueduct/ Owens River Valley/ Mono Lake area. It's unclear what source is meant to fill this gap.
Bottom Line: Water has a local character that requires different, appropriate management techniques to manage different uses. Those who forget this "identity" risk destroying water's value to its numerous dependents.

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