Monday, April 20, 2015

Week of 04/20/2015

California’s Luck Is Drying Up
The State of California is in big trouble.  Huge trouble, in fact.
And, yes, it has to do with climate change.
For a couple of years now, certain people have been sounding the alarm bells about something that most of us have been taking for granted: drinkable water.
We’ve all gotten accustomed here in America to having clean running water.  Hell, our drinking water even has additives to it!  (Or did you actually think it normally comes with fluoride?)  Not only that, but we will pay money to buy bottled water, because the water we get from the tap is supposedly not “pure” enough for us.
Well here is California’s problem: they’re running out of fresh water.  And they’re running out of it quickly.
California’s available water supply is dependent on several factors, but specifically from melted snow in the mountains.  Snowfall in the winter accumulates there, it melts in the spring, and the water flows down for them to use.
But all of that presupposes that there is precipitation - snow, rain, or even ice – in those mountains.  And that it must happen with a certain amount of frequency each and every year in order to sustain the demand.  If it doesn’t... then the amount of available water dries up.  Less water comes down from the mountains to feed California’s thirst.  California dries up.
And guess what’s been happening?  The one thing that the conservatives and neo-conservatives deny just as strongly as they deny evolution: climate change.
Despite the crippling snow and ice that the American Northeast was getting this past year, the rest of the world experienced its hottest year on record.  That fed the Fox News douchebag machine and their retarded chant of “Whatever happened to Global Warming – a-yuk-a-yuk-a-yuk-a-yuk!”  It also meant less precipitation for California, and thus less water for them.  That’s what been going on since 2012.
And it’s only going to get worse for them.
Now, folks, I don’t have to guess what Californians will be going through when it comes to depleting supplies of available water.  I’ve lived through it.
In the early half of the 00’s, I lived in a little neighborhood just outside of a city in Georgia called Gainesville.  We were right along the northern part of Lake Lanier in a little cul-de-sac.  A two-story house build in a hill with access to a cove.  I rented the lower half of the house from my parents, who got the better half of the deal because they didn’t have to go up two flights of stairs and then up a hill to get to their vehicles.
Anyway, during that time, our water came from our own well, which was fed by the local underground aquifer.  That aquifer got fed from the same place as Lake Lanier... by the runoff water at the start of the Chattahoochee River up in the mountains near Tennessee. 
So when there were droughts, there wasn’t as much water to feed either the lake or the aquifer.  When that happened, we didn’t have as much available water as we normally would, so we would have to cut back.  We would have to take short showers, not flush the toilet all the time, use bottled water, wash dishes by hand instead of using the dishwasher, and take our laundry to the nearest coin-operated laundromat.
These were all considered short-term measures.  We knew the water levels would be back up eventually and we’d be back to our usual water uses.  We just had to “tough it out” for a little while.
But then something happened... even during normal seasons, with plenty of drenching rains to feed the local supplies, our well water would continue going down.  There would be less and less available water for us regardless of how much rain we got.
My parents (or at least one of them) didn’t want to believe it at the time, but I noticed that this started happening around the same time as the area experienced some serious growth.  New cul-de-sacs were being paved and new homes were being put up.  All of those homes with all of those people that were not on hills like ours that were tapping into the same aquifer that fed our well.
What used to be a temporary measure suddenly became a permanent one.  No more dishwasher.  No more using our own washer and dryer.  No more showers lasting longer than a couple of minutes.  No more “clear” toilets.  We bought bottled water by the gallons and stocked up on quarters for the laundromat.
And even that wasn’t enough.  There were still times when we would simply run out of water.
My parents had to bite the financial bullet and pay to have someone come in and dig deeper into the aquifer to get our water.  And that also became one of the many reasons for me to find someplace else to live.
I bring this up because Californians will have to make some serious and hard choices of their own concerning the water that they’ve been taking for granted all this time.  And it’s not just folks in California.  Montana, Texas, Kansas, even North Carolina and Delaware are starting to see signs of a looming water crisis of their own.  Georgia has been in a long-running legal pissing contest with Florida and Alabama over those same Chattahoochee waters I was talking about.
Let’s get brutally honest here... this is not a situation that can be resolved overnight.  It certainly can’t be resolved in the same way that Fox News deals with climate change, which is to wait until the next snowstorm to dismiss the whole thing as being “bunk”.  A few days of rain will not repair the damage of long-term droughts.  Even a few weeks of rain won’t cut it.  There needs to be some serious long-term planning.
Water rationing won’t cut it; especially when you’re expecting residents to make the biggest sacrifice and they’re not the ones taking the biggest share of the water.  That’s a short-term solution to a long-term aggravated problem that simply will not work.  And, besides, you can’t expect the average Californian to cut back on their water usage when they see corporate buildings with sprinkler systems running and they get a letter from their local homeowner’s association demanding they keep their lawns green “or else”.
We need to establish once and for all which group takes precedence when it comes to water: human beings, big corporations, livestock, nuts and berries, or little snails and fish.  And if human beings are not on the top of that priority list, then you have a serious, serious, problem on your hands.  Think “French Revolution” problem.  You know, where they invented the guillotine and the “let them eat cake” meme.
Makes you think about the continual militarization of the local police into stormtroopers, doesn’t it?
We also need to abandon the idea that you can simply import water from other places, such as the asinine idea that you can pipe in water from the Great Lakes to California.  Or, for that matter, from Alaska.  These are short-term solutions at best.  And remember that this isn’t just a “California” problem.  The National Aeronautics and Space Administration – yes, the place with the real rocket scientists – speculate that North America could be heading for a “mega-drought” in the next few decades.  So what happens when the so-called “heartland” needs water and they find out all of the water is going to California?  You may find out sooner than you think.  Remember, Kansas is already sounding the water alarm.
We need to accept that we can’t build and build and waste water like there’s no tomorrow.  Nor can you pipe water in to places that traditionally don’t have any simply so you can build more neighborhoods and shopping malls.  Drinkable water is a finite resource and needs to be treated as such.  Developers and regional planners need to think less water parks and more desalination plants, less cul-de-sacs and more reservoirs, and they need to do it sooner rather than later.  A lot sooner.
California and other places have been pushing their luck for years when it comes to available resources.  Well, that wellspring of luck is starting to run dry, along with all of the other springs.  And, contrary to the delusions of the Governor of Texas, we can’t just pray for rain to solve it.

1 comment:

Carrie Kube said...

I'm thankful I live in the midwest. I'd like to be able to do something about it.