Repeat of the drought of 2000-05 Could drain Lake Powell - Page 3 - Mountain Buzz
 



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Old 09-05-2016   #21
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Thanks for the list of water hungry foods Billoutwest!!
I will try to factor that into shopping from now on. With the one exception being the coffee. I feel it might be less harmful from a water use stand point, being raised in a fairly wet climate? May be wrong though, am pretty addicted to it.

One point that seems to go with the water conservation Issue, is SOIL Conservation. Soil that has organic matter added back to it regularly, makes a HUGE difference in the required water to raise crops, it does a lot to hold moisture in the soil, plus of course the food grown is much more nutritious. I have heard soil referred to as our second most valuable resource, after water, and one that has been in steady decline as well.
A lot can be done to help with the issue on a small scale, such as composting, or building a worm box. Uncle Jim's Worm Farm has a lot of good info on Vermicomposting. Can be done in doors year round,( no smell if done properly) can be done cheaply, and produces a very high quality compost for your plants.

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Old 09-05-2016   #22
 
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Originally Posted by mattman View Post
Thanks for the list of water hungry foods Billoutwest!!
I will try to factor that into shopping from now on. With the one exception being the coffee. I feel it might be less harmful from a water use stand point, being raised in a fairly wet climate? May be wrong though, am pretty addicted to it.

......
You're welcome although Imyers got it rolling.

I thought that about coffee growing too.
Plus beef can use water in locations not all that competitive.

Milk in Tillamook Oregon isn't a water issue.
The hardware store downtown still had that 'best tarps in town' sign last time I was there.

In Central Oregon the Ft Rock District has cattle grazing allotments that benefit wildlife because of the water provided for the beef. The place is very dry. 1,000 sections with one short lived stream. Pumice based soils and little rainfall.
The cattlemen truck in water for their cattle during the dry season. The deer and elk jump the cattle fences and get that water where otherwise there is none. (Antelope get under the fences. The fences are made to a tight spec.) I suspect that water comes from probably deep wells.

Its complicated.
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Old 09-05-2016   #23
 
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This forum focuses on rivers.

Fair enough.

Probably should go back to that.

But aquifers are also a huge deal.
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Old 09-06-2016   #24
 
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This thread has amazed me, all this talk as if once the water is pumped from the ground it's lost. The data presented (1800 gallons of water used per lb of beef, et. al) while probably accurate for their part are only one side of the coin - Just the input side. It should come as no surprise to anyone that every drop of water applied to mature a lb of beef is returned to the system, albeit in various different localities).

The primary affect of western agricultural practices has been a redistribution of water. A short circuiting of the hydrologic cycle (when discussing deep aquifers anyways). Ditches distributing surface waters have artificially elevated the water table here in the Gallatin Valley (a shallow unconfined but prolific aquifer). Now as farms are being replaced by condos, people are bitching that development of the land is using more water (if the water table goes down, we're mining water right?). This cause/affect analysis is absolutely wrong. Development uses much less water than does agriculture. The aquifer has been benefiting by ditch leakage and return flows for the past 100 years and is currently higher in most portions of the valley. For the most part this water is spring runoff that was captured and distributed to the aquifer each spring.

The main thing missing from all the estimates presented by others below is return flows. if an average beef cow produces a 1000 lbs of beef (wild ass guess, actual value irrelevant), it does of course not contain 1,800,000 gallons of water - the vast majority of that water is returned to the ground in relatively short order. Sure if it was pumped from a 1000 feet in the ground it won't be recharging that aquifer anytime soon, but it will recharge others or make it's way back to some surface water (discussions on agricultural pollution surely to follow). At any rate, that water wasn't used, it was moved, redistributed, etc. and will benefit other local ecosystems (as Billoutwest alluded to in the Ft. Rock area).

I'm not saying that nothing should change, I just felt I needed to interject some additional realities into this conversation. There is more to the 1800 gal/lb of beef story, please everyone, try and remember that. It's very easy to focus on the biased numbers presented by either side of the argument. But it's important to remember to question any statistic to be sure you know exactly what it's saying (not just what the presenter wanted you to see).
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Old 09-06-2016   #25
 
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Good points Elkhaven.

I think the keys to remember when assessing the current water crisis in the west is one,

That we are taking water from both the aquifers and natural basins generally faster than the natural water cycle replenishes them,

and two, that many of the municipalities in the west are drawing water from a trans-basin source that accelerates an unnatural and unsustainable draw on the supply.

I tried to do some research on water return vs consumption and all I could find is that when animals are at their optimal hydration level nearly 100% of the water consumed is expelled.
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Old 09-06-2016   #26
 
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Here is a place where the aquifer is replenished generously.

At the deep Deschutes Regional Aquifer. Up to 23 wells are used to pull ground water from nine well fields for the Bend City.

Sounds scary.

But.
Most of their water comes from the for now Pristine Tumalo Spring in the Bend Watershed. USFS Managed.

Quote:
This aquifer is unlike any in the United States as the porous Upper Deschutes Basin readily absorbs both snowmelt and rainfall, which recharge an estimated 3,800 cubic feet per second (cfs) each year. Averaged over the year, that is equal to about 2.4 billion gallons per day of recharge to the aquifer.
Think geology.
Think orographic rainfall.
Think pumice soils.

The volcanoes lay down pyramid lava flows.
Some are not porous.

They extract moisture from the jet stream driven Pacific moisture laden clouds.

The soils are extremely porous. Very little in the way of streams over here even with that moisture up high.
The lava flows that angle down to the east collect that moisture.
The Sisters area has the #2 drop off of moisture in the world after some place in Mongolia. Something like 100 inches difference from crest to sagebrush flats down below. Who would have thought about a great aquifer under sage?

A couple of slightly off set mountains, Bachelor and Broken Top, take some more of that moisture and feed even more into the eastside aquifer.

2.4 billion gallons per day of recharge

The primary user, Bend City, has been successful at keeping its typical groundwater use at around 2 billion gallons per year.
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Old 09-06-2016   #27
 
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Some places don't have aquifers that match up to human use/abuse.

California.

Water pumped from the ground there is lost for our lifetimes and our children lifetimes.
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Old 09-06-2016   #28
 
Great Falls, Montana
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[QUOTE=BilloutWest;

I suspect that charging a huge fee for water is the only answer.

[/QUOTE]

I suspect this is the primary motivation for most of these crisis. And if you don't have a crisis...make one.
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Old 09-06-2016   #29
 
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Originally Posted by ob1coby View Post
I suspect this is the primary motivation for most of these crisis. And if you don't have a crisis...make one.
Or take the crisis that is there already.

Quote:
It will take at least 50 years for the Central Valley’s aquifers to naturally refill, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. But that’s only if everyone stopped pumping groundwater immediately.
https://www.revealnews.org/article/9...water-problem/
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Old 09-06-2016   #30
 
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Great to see the discussion going on here and hear what folks think. Like Elkhaven and others say, it's a complicated topic, especially when you start looking at the integrated hydrologic cycle, transbasin diversions, and all the other things involved. As for the figure that's being batted around, that a pound of beef requires 1,800 gallons of water to produce, I'd expect the great majority of that is water required to irrigate cattle feed crops and that what the steer actually drinks is a very small portion of what's consumed.

Then, in irrigated watersheds like the South Platte Basin, a lot of the water that's applied to crops percolates to the aquifer and returns to the river to be used by farmers downstream to be used again. These "return flows" feed the system and provide a year-round river flowing to Nebraska whereas prior to the diversions and wide-spread irrigation the South Platte only flowed during spring runoff, and may not have even flowed into Nebraska on some years. Now days the inefficiency of the system is what allows the SP to meet the demands of all the irrigators all the way downstream on a lot of years (and produce that cattle feed that brings us such affordable cheesburgers).

This is not to say that we shouldn't strive for efficient irrigation technologies, but just underscores the complexity of the system. Then when you overlay the administrative system, and aspects such as the "use it or lose it" water rights aspect, over the hydrologic system things really get interesting...

It's not all hopeless and with opposable thumbs and a frontal cortex, surely we can figure some of this stuff out. So I have to re-recommend the article on decoupling that I linked above.

Thanks again for kicking this stuff around!

-AH
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