California Drought Report #21

The New York Times: The End of California?

The drought may indeed be a long overdue bill for creating an oasis civilization. But therein lies a solution. The Golden State is an invention, with lives to match. If the drought continues, California will be forced to rely even more on what has long sustained it — imagination. Not a bad thing to have too much of.

What is your solution for an extended drought lasting 20 plus years?

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About Russ Steele

Freelance writer and climate change blogger. Russ spent twenty years in the Air Force as a navigator specializing in electronics warfare and digital systems. After his service he was employed for sixteen years as concept developer for TRW, an aerospace and automotive company, and then was CEO of a non-profit Internet provider for 18 months. Russ's articles have appeared in Comstock's Business, Capitol Journal, Trailer Life, Monitoring Times, and Idaho Magazine.
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5 Responses to California Drought Report #21

  1. Fuzz says:

    Russ, I thought somebody else might respond by now. May I ask what your solution would be for a 20 year drought, both personally and for the state? Hopefully the cooling of the “blob” will lead to better precip but you never know. If we were to continue the previous 4 years for the next 16 years, your mind definitely doesn’t want to go there. I would assume that by Spring of year 8 an exodus would be well underway by those with means to have a second home somewhere. Business would be fleeing and a general unraveling of commercial and civic life would be occurring. I can’t even imagine what it would be like in the central valley. All Sierra foothill reservoirs used for farm and urban water would be dry and groundwater pumping would be HIGHLY controlled by the SWRCB. Painful to even write about.

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    • Russ Steele says:

      Fuzz,
      I have ben thinking about the issue and planning to write up a post on my thoughts. I see it as a huge opportunity for change in California. The out migration that started two decades ago will accelerate and agricultural jobs dry up and those industries highly dependent on water leave the state for areas with a dependable supply of water. In the ensuing chaos we will have an opportunity to remove he liberal progressive government that has failed the people of California by not preparing for a recognizable crisis. You cannot keep adding people without increasing the water infrastructure, which is our current condition. Saw a program on Petra a city that flourished in the driest desert in now Jordan. They did so by storing water in every way possible when it did rain and piping water from mountain springs. CA survival will require that we dam every possible river to store water when it rains, but it maybe too late to build dams now, the drought is here. We are going to be in for a very rough time ahead, with only one year of water left in the storage facilities. Conservation does not work when the lake is empty. More in this in a future article.

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    • Russ Steele says:

      Fuzz,

      When we built our house in 1982 it was not too far removed from the 76/77 drought. I had the gray water pipes in the house stubbed out so they could be tapped for yard watering We also have the drain pipes on the roof piped to two central locations were they could be put in 1000 gallon storage container if necessary. The water storage tank is a repurposed concrete septic tank buried in yard. It has a pump with a filter system to distribute the water if needed. So far we have not needed to collect the rain water, but may in the future.

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  2. Fuzz says:

    Another thought for the long term. The Columbia River system (border between Oregon and Washington) drains from far up in Canada. How about we make a agreement with Canada, Oregon, and Washington to divert excess flow into a pipeline we build from Oregon to, say, Lake Shasta. We raise Shasta dam another 20 ft. (if feasible) and then carefully parcel out this flow over the year. Plus, the state has long been considering two new dams (Sites and Temperance Flat). If they have excellent drainage systems primarily from rain, and are sound in all other geophysical respects, then seriously consider getting started.

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  3. Fuzz says:

    For 20 years?….. my personal solution is a 27ft. U-Haul with my wife following behind in our truck. We’re planning to move to the greater Seattle area (to be near our daughter) but even Washington state is having drought issues….(enough precip but not enough in the form of snow).

    For California, a 20 year drought would destroy the state. If we continue with the routine of no snow and a couple of 3-4 day rainstorms, then household “stormwater capture” will be critical. One, or more, 5000 gal. tanks with pre-filters and UV sterilization, could make or break your supply of household water. If you intended to stay in California, come hell or high water, and you had room on your lot, I would build a giant “false roof” (like a car port), that was covered with solar panels (might as well), gutters, and a row of tanks for collection. (1000 sq. ft of roof will collect 623 gallons per inch of rain.) A 50×100 false roof could collect about 3100 gallons per inch of rain. That, added to what you collect off your house, could make or break your existence. Course, if everything is going to hell around you, you might be a rose in a weed field. As I’ve been saying for the last 6 months, there are two businesses you want to be in….artificial turf installation and household stormwater capture systems. To really protect yourself, you could move to the coast first, where desal is in operation or being built, and then build your stormwater capture. If you’re retired (like me) you can go where you want. If you’re running a business that could eventually be destroyed by the statewide ramifications an extended catastrophic drought, you’ve got some serious thinking to do. Plus, if next winter is as bad or worse, I expect to see real estate prices start falling as people face the prospect that this actually could be a decade(s) megadrought. In that event, it wouldn’t matter how low you priced your home because nobody would want to move to devastation.
    Yes, California has been changed by this drought. Farmers are over-pumping the aquifers and land is subsiding. If you think oil wars were bad, wait till you see water wars.

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