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Paddy

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Water management
« on: April 03, 2017, 12:29:15 PM »
I've just read an article suggesting better management of water, green space and wetlands as a means of ameliorating Climate change: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/apr/03/climate-change-water-fossil-fuel

How much mileage do people here think there might be in this approach?

gerontocrat

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Re: Water management
« Reply #1 on: December 27, 2019, 12:42:08 PM »
I've just read an article suggesting better management of water, green space and wetlands as a means of ameliorating Climate change: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/apr/03/climate-change-water-fossil-fuel

How much mileage do people here think there might be in this approach?
A long time to get a reply, and the answer is - wetlands ? YES

A good news story for a change. It's the sort of geo-engineering that gets a hoorah!

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/dec/27/it-is-amazing-how-quickly-mother-nature-can-recover-restoring-ukraines-rich-wetlands-aoe
'Mother Nature recovers amazingly fast': reviving Ukraine's rich wetlands
Quote
In the 1970s, 11 earth dams were built on the Sarata and Kogilnik rivers as a crude alternative to footbridges to access the area’s aquifers.

Ornithologist Maxim Yakovlev remembers that prior to the construction of the dams, the local rivers slowly meandered through a rich wetland ecosystem which would store, hold back and slowly release water after heavy rains. “Back then, before the dams, when the ecosystem was functioning properly, we had healthier soil and vegetation,” says Yakovlev, as he skirts the edge of a reeking swamp near the tiny, ancient town of Tatarbunary on the northern fringe of the reserve, a 100-mile (160km) drive south-west of Odessa.

Only 20% of the Danube Delta ecosystem lies within Ukraine, but thanks to the Endangered Landscapes Programme and a modest crowdfunding grant raised by Rewilding Europe in conjunction with the Dam Removal Europe initiative, Ukraine’s portion is growing.

“Just in the last few weeks, as the first dams were removed, we have seen shoals of fish return and otters establishing new territories,” says Yakovlev.

Some 60 miles from Tatarbunary, in the heart of the reserve, another Rewilding Ukraine project is taking shape on the island of Ermakov. Biologists are studying how the introduction of large herbivores regulates and improves wetland ecosystems.

From a boat on the water, Rewilding Ukraine team leader Mykhailo Nesterenko points to the shoreline. There, fleetingly, we get our first glimpse of some of the dozens of wild konik, a breed of primitive Polish horse that was reintroduced to the island earlier this year. “These large herbivores will play a very important role in the Ermakov ecosystem,” explains Nesterenko, “and we will be bringing other creatures to the island soon, including kulan donkeys.”

On the island, a wooden bird-watching platform allows us to observe huge flocks of geese, ducks, and other fowl landing and taking off from shallow waters teeming with noisy frogs. “The viewing platform was built in the summer. From up here you can see how much has changed since we removed some of the dams,” Nesterenko says.

The island is also home to 17 water buffalo, and a recently born calf. The water buffalo are standing 100 metres away, munching on hay from a wooden wagon near the soon-to-open building that will host rewilding tourists.

Nesterenko says they were gifted by a German eco-entrepreneur, Michel Jacobi, who reared the animals on his farm near Khust in Ukraine’s Carpathian region, where he produces mozzarella cheese from the buffalo milk. The buffalo arrived on a barge in the summer and have settled in well, but with winter beginning they are being given extra food and carefully monitored.

Although they are tame, they are still able to live in the wild and their wallowing habits will improve the wetlands immensely, Nesterenko says. “These animals are one of nature’s great engineers and they open up the scrub and reedbeds, creating pools and puddles which are home to many insects, amphibians and fish.”
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vox_mundi

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Re: Water management
« Reply #2 on: April 18, 2021, 05:56:57 PM »
US West Prepares for Possible 1st Water Shortage Declaration
https://phys.org/news/2021-04-west-1st-shortage-declaration.html

The man-made lakes that store water supplying millions of people in the U.S. West and Mexico are projected to shrink to historic lows in the coming months, dropping to levels that could trigger the federal government's first-ever official shortage declaration and prompt cuts in Arizona and Nevada.

The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation released 24-month projections this week forecasting that less Colorado River water will cascade down from the Rocky Mountains through Lake Powell and Lake Mead and into the arid deserts of the U.S. Southwest and the Gulf of California. Water levels in the two lakes are expected to plummet low enough for the agency to declare an official shortage for the first time, threatening the supply of Colorado River water that growing cities and farms rely on.

It comes as climate change means less snowpack flows into the river and its tributaries, and hotter temperatures parch soil and cause more river water to evaporate as it streams through the drought-plagued American West.

The agency's models project Lake Mead will fall below 1,075 feet (328 meters) for the first time in June 2021. That's the level that prompts a shortage declaration under agreements negotiated by seven states that rely on Colorado River water: Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming.

If projections don't improve by August, the Bureau of Reclamation will declare a Level 1 shortage condition. The cuts would be implemented in January.

Arizona, Nevada and Mexico have voluntarily given up water under a drought contingency plan for the river signed in 2019. A shortage declaration would subject the two U.S. states to their first mandatory reductions. Both rely on the Colorado River more than any other water source, and Arizona stands to lose roughly one-third of its supply.

The Bureau of Reclamation also projected that Lake Mead will drop to the point they worried in the past could threaten electricity generation at Hoover Dam. The hydropower serves millions of customers in Arizona, California and Nevada.

"As the elevation declines at the lake, then our ability to produce power declines as well because we have less water pushing on the turbines," he said.

"Rural economies in Arizona and Nevada live and die by the hydropower that is produced at Hoover Dam. It might not be a big deal to NV Energy," he said of Nevada's largest utility. "It might be a decimal point to Los Angeles Department of Water and Power. But for Lincoln County, it adds huge impact."



-------------------------------------------

https://mead.uslakes.info/level.asp

... Based on current inflow forecasts, the current projected end of water year total Colorado Basin reservoir storage for water year 2021 is approximately 24.60 maf (41 percent of total system capacity).
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Riverside

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Re: Water management
« Reply #3 on: April 18, 2021, 11:35:32 PM »
Long time lurker here, de-cloaking for the first. Let's see whether I can this work.

I'd like to make a correction/clarification to the phys.org/news article that stated that projections showed Lake Mead will drop below 1075 ft for the first time. Actually Lake Mead was briefly lower than that in June 2015 and again in May, June and July 2016.
https://www.arachnoid.com/NaturalResources/
I believe those lower levels and similar low water conditions in Lake Powell put an end to the mythology that there would always be enough Colorado River water to go around, forcing the river compact states to negotiate (read that as "fight rigorously about") the 2019 agreement that set actual official criteria for restricting withdrawals.
So I believe the headline should read "water shortage declaration possible for the first time" based on projections that water levels will drop below 1075. See reply #41 in the Drought 2021 thread.
Current projections for Lake Powell indicate that additional changes to upstream reservoir management will be implemented by 2022.
For graphs of water levels in selected Colorado River reservoirs for the most recent 6 years see
https://lakepowell.water-data.com/
« Last Edit: April 19, 2021, 02:42:15 AM by Riverside »

kassy

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Re: Water management
« Reply #4 on: April 19, 2021, 03:52:26 PM »
Welcome Riverside.
Þetta minnismerki er til vitnis um að við vitum hvað er að gerast og hvað þarf að gera. Aðeins þú veist hvort við gerðum eitthvað.

Sigmetnow

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Re: Water management
« Reply #5 on: April 25, 2021, 04:00:07 PM »
California
Nestle told to stop spring water diversions in San Bernardino Forest
Quote
California's Water Resources Control Board on Friday asked Nestle (NESN.S) to stop unauthorized natural spring water diversions in the San Bernardino Forest after a probe revealed multiple violations and depletion of resources.

The action comes as the state ramps up efforts to preserve water resources amid worsening drought conditions.

The order is in response to several water rights complaints and an online petition against Nestle Waters North America starting in 2015, which led to drinking water supply shortages and impacted environmental resources.

Nestle, one of the world's largest bottled water companies, has 20 days to respond to the draft cease and desist order and request a hearing or the State Water Board may issue a final order, the board said.

The company may be asked to limit diversions from surface streams to its pre-1914 water rights and submit annual monitoring reports, among other steps, if the order is adopted, it said. ...
https://www.reuters.com/business/environment/nestle-asked-stop-spring-water-diversions-san-bernardino-2021-04-23/
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gerontocrat

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Re: Water management
« Reply #6 on: April 25, 2021, 04:51:00 PM »
Long time lurker here, de-cloaking for the first. Let's see whether I can this work.

I'd like to make a correction/clarification to the phys.org/news article that stated that projections showed Lake Mead will drop below 1075 ft for the first time. Actually Lake Mead was briefly lower than that in June 2015 and again in May, June and July 2016.
https://www.arachnoid.com/NaturalResources/
I believe those lower levels and similar low water conditions in Lake Powell put an end to the mythology that there would always be enough Colorado River water to go around, forcing the river compact states to negotiate (read that as "fight rigorously about") the 2019 agreement that set actual official criteria for restricting withdrawals.
So I believe the headline should read "water shortage declaration possible for the first time" based on projections that water levels will drop below 1075. See reply #41 in the Drought 2021 thread.
Current projections for Lake Powell indicate that additional changes to upstream reservoir management will be implemented by 2022.
For graphs of water levels in selected Colorado River reservoirs for the most recent 6 years see
https://lakepowell.water-data.com/
Thanks for that post, Riverside, a long time ago I used to look at water resources a lot.
Your post woke me up about data sources.

Always helpful to have more than one place to go for data, so here is another one for Lake Mead---  http://mead.uslakes.info/level.asp
Looks like it is updated daily.

At the moment 2021 not as bad as 2016, but.....in the long term the future seems one-way (see article in link below.

https://yaleclimateconnections.org/2021/01/drought-stricken-colorado-river-basin-could-see-additional-20-drop-in-water-flow-by-2050/

click image to enlarge
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Tor Bejnar

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Re: Water management
« Reply #7 on: April 25, 2021, 08:35:01 PM »
In a different water basin, my brother in central New Mexico says the Rio Grande will be low again this summer (low southern Colorado snow pack, plus, they 'owe' water to Texas) and there are plans to stop feeding the area irrigation ditches early this year.  Therefore, my brother's 3.5 acre (1.4 hectare) farm will mostly not be planted.  No okra for the farmers market or grain for the sandhill cranes:'( (My aging mother has loved seeing the cranes nearly every day through recent falls and winters from her 'mother-in-law' apartment window or her wheelchair on the veranda.)

A late start and an early end to the irrigation season

Quote
A less than desirable Rio Grande stream forecast for 2021 has prompted Interstate Stream Commission and State Engineer John D’Antonio Jr. to issue a report telling farmers not to farm unless they “absolutely need to farm.” D’Antonio also said the drought is shaping up to be as severe as the conditions the state experienced in the 1950s.
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Riverside

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Re: Water management
« Reply #8 on: April 25, 2021, 11:23:25 PM »
I agree that at the moment Lake Mead's water levels are not as bad as 2016, being about 3.5 ft higher now. But currently Lake Powell is much worse than 2016, being about 30 ft lower.
http://powell.uslakes.info/level.asp
And given the larger size of Lake Powell that's a lot more water.

My cynical guess is that after 2016 the water managers sacrificed Lake Powell's water to maintain Lake Mead above the 1075 ft action level that would trigger some real conservation, while at the same time managing upstream water releases to assure that Lake Powell was above 3575 ft on 1 January each year, to avoid triggering the Mid-Elevation Release Tier management plan for the upper Colorado. This year they barely made it. Next year not likely.

See https://www.usbr.gov/uc/water/crsp/cs/gcd.html for monthly updates (released mid-month) on Lake Powell's water situation and links to 2 year water level projections.


oren

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Re: Water management
« Reply #9 on: April 26, 2021, 06:19:04 PM »
Thanks for these informative updates, Riverside.

vox_mundi

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Re: Water management
« Reply #10 on: June 14, 2021, 12:27:42 AM »
Drought-Hit Jordan to Build Red Sea Desalination Plant
https://phys.org/news/2021-06-drought-hit-jordan-red-sea-desalination.html

Jordan said Sunday it plans to build a Red Sea desalination plant operating within five years, to provide the mostly-desert and drought-hit kingdom with critical drinking water.

The cost of the project is estimated at "around $1 billion", ministry of water and irrigation spokesman Omar Salameh told AFP, adding that the plant would be built in the Gulf of Aqaba, in southern Jordan.

The plant is expected to produce 250-300 million cubic meters of potable water per year, and should be ready for operation in 2025 or 2026, Salameh said.

... Thirteen international consortiums have put in bids, and the government will chose five of them by July, Salameh said.

Desalinating water is a major drain of energy, and the companies must suggest how to run the plant in Jordan, which does not have major oil reserves.

Last month Salameh told AFP that Jordan needs about 1.3 billion cubic metres of water per year.

But the quantities available are around 850 to 900 million cubic metres, with the shortfall "due to low rainfall, global warming, population growth and successive refugee inflows", he said.
“There are three classes of people: those who see. Those who see when they are shown. Those who do not see.” ― Leonardo da Vinci

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gerontocrat

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Re: Water management
« Reply #11 on: June 14, 2021, 01:07:05 PM »
Lake Mead & Lake Powell.

Lake Mead water level continues to drop below historic lows.

But at Lake Powell, upstream from Lake Mead, the water level has risen slightly. i.e. more water in than out. Given the dire situation, one must assume that means Lake Powell is sending less water down to Lake Mead.

Methinks one sees the problem of trying to get a quart of water out of a pint pot.

Solutions?:-

1. Have a big prayer-in

2. Apoint a senior Politician to sort it out.

In the Summer of '76, the UK had just about zero rain for 3 months, the driest summer for 200 years. In the end the Government appointed Denis Herbert Howell as Minister for Drought - immediately nicknamed "Minister for Rain". Days later - rain, floods.

Quote
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Denis_Howell
In the last week of August 1976, during Britain's driest summer in over 200 years, he was made Minister for Drought (but nicknamed 'Minister for Rain').[4] Howell was charged by the Prime Minister with the task of persuading the nation to use less water – and was even ordered by No. 10 to do a rain dance on behalf of the nation.[5] Howell responded by inviting reporters to his home in Moseley, where he revealed he was doing his bit to help water rationing by sharing baths with his wife, Brenda.[5] Days later, heavy rainfall caused widespread flooding, and he was made Minister of Floods.[6] Additionally, during the harsh winter of 1978–1979 he was appointed Minister for Snow.[7][8]


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oren

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Re: Water management
« Reply #12 on: June 17, 2021, 03:18:37 AM »
But at Lake Powell, upstream from Lake Mead, the water level has risen slightly. i.e. more water in than out. Given the dire situation, one must assume that means Lake Powell is sending less water down to Lake Mead.
I think Lake Powell normally rises at this time of year, or more accurately it should have risen sooner and faster, so I doubt the rise is due to simply sending less water down to Mead.

NeilT

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Re: Water management
« Reply #13 on: June 17, 2021, 12:22:46 PM »
In the Summer of '76, the UK had just about zero rain for 3 months, the driest summer for 200 years. In the end the Government appointed Denis Herbert Howell as Minister for Drought - immediately nicknamed "Minister for Rain". Days later - rain, floods.

If you go around the UK and check the construction dates on reservoirs, you can see that a thorough review was done in the wake of 76 and infrastructure was built to manage water so the stand pipe issues never happened again in the same way.

It was found that distribution was the biggest problem, not the amount of water in the country. The interim solution was to build more reservoirs until distribution could be resolved.

Witness the fact that the UK has not had standpipes since. It has been close, but large scale standpipe use, with public supply cut off has remained a thing of the past.

Of course it was the water board then. Run by the government. I suspect that this problem will only come to a solution when the situation becomes critical. As is the way with most public infrastructure issues.
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gerontocrat

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Re: Water management
« Reply #14 on: June 18, 2021, 04:43:32 PM »
In the Summer of '76, the UK had just about zero rain for 3 months, the driest summer for 200 years. In the end the Government appointed Denis Herbert Howell as Minister for Drought - immediately nicknamed "Minister for Rain". Days later - rain, floods.

If you go around the UK and check the construction dates on reservoirs, you can see that a thorough review was done in the wake of 76 and infrastructure was built to manage water so the stand pipe issues never happened again in the same way.

It was found that distribution was the biggest problem, not the amount of water in the country. The interim solution was to build more reservoirs until distribution could be resolved.

Witness the fact that the UK has not had standpipes since. It has been close, but large scale standpipe use, with public supply cut off has remained a thing of the past.

Of course it was the water board then. Run by the government. I suspect that this problem will only come to a solution when the situation becomes critical. As is the way with most public infrastructure issues.
Witness the fact that the UK has not had standpipes since. It has been close, but large scale standpipe use, with public supply cut off has remained a thing of the past.


As part of privatisation of the water & sewage industries in the 1980's, as a sweetener the Government hurled money at the problem to get the infrastructure fixed.

After privatisation, all but one water company kept the water flowing. The naughty boy was the Yorkshire Water Company, notorious for not investing in new capacity and leak control, preferring management wage increases and BIG dividends.

In 1995 it all went wrong - no rain in West Yorkshire & standpipes, water rationing etc etc. This was a gift to "The Morning Star", the paper of the Communist Party. The extract below is factually correct.
________________________
ps: I went for an interview with them (before 1995) to be their management accountant. The HR man took me aside. He said " Your personality test says you don't suffer fools gladly. They are fools. I'm taking you off the interview". True yeah, I kid you not.
__________________________________________________
https://morningstaronline.co.uk/article/how-people-west-yorkshire-were-left-high-and-dry
How the people of West Yorkshire were left high and dry


A water shortage is looming, thanks to privateers’ greed and leaking pipes. Nothing new there then, writes PETER LAZENBY



Quote
In 1995 West Yorkshire ran out of water. Pennine reservoirs serving the county ran dry as the sun blazed and rain failed to fall.

As water levels fell, old hamlets which had been flooded to create the reservoirs, emerged, ghost-like, from the depths.

Reservoir beds turned into stretches of wrinkled, dried mud. Disaster loomed for the cities of Leeds and Bradford, the towns of Halifax, Huddersfield and Wakefield and dozens of smaller communities.

Yorkshire Water, the company which took over when the Thatcher government privatised the water supply industry in 1989, had introduced a hosepipe ban, which was about as much use as a chocolate teapot.

The company told the worst-threatened communities, Bradford and Halifax, that it was to install standpipes in the streets. It said there would be day-on day-off water disconnections.

It installed a token standpipe in one Bradford street to demonstrate the system.

Then an irate pensioner ran from her home and told a quivering public relations man that if her water went off she would “stick the standpipe up your arse” — her words. It was on TV that night.

At a weekly media conference staged by Yorkshire Water at its headquarters in Leeds, chief executive Trevor Newton announced that, in the interests of saving water, he had not had a bath or shower for three months. The journalists sitting at the table leaned away from him.

He staged a televised demonstration in his bathroom at home showing how to have a “good wash” using half a basin of water.

Then it emerged that he had relatives in the north-east, which had plentiful supplies of water, and was nipping up there regularly for a nice soak in the bath.

In the east of Yorkshire there was plenty of water, but there was no way of transporting it to the west. The company had failed to invest in a much-needed countywide distribution system to transfer supplies to areas in need.

In desperation, Yorkshire Water hired 1,000 tankers to do the job.

The tankers thundered along the roads day and night, from east to west and back again, with drivers working rotating eight-hour shifts. It went on for weeks.

The company asked the government for permission to increase the maximum amount of water it could take from Yorkshire rivers.

The government hastily agreed, acutely aware of the damage being done to its boasts of “increased efficiency” in the water supply industry under privatisation.

But environmentalists and conservationists raised the alarm, saying the rivers’ aquatic life was under threat, with images of fish flapping helplessly in a trickle of river water.

Throughout the crisis numerous statistics emerged relating to it: the capacity of local reservoirs; daily consumption in West Yorkshire; which areas used most, etc.

But the two statistics that stuck in the public’s minds were these: first, their water bills had increased by 60 per cent in the six years since Yorkshire Water took over; second, Yorkshire Water was losing 34 per cent — more than a third — of its treated water supplies through leaking pipes.

Instead of investing to reduce the level of leaks, Yorkshire Water handed out its profits in bonuses to directors and dividends to shareholders.

There’s no wonder the old lady in Bradford told them what she would do with their standpipe.

Bradford, with a population of 300,000, was down to one week’s supply. Neighbouring Halifax was down to 10 days.

In preparation Yorkshire Water stacked warehouses with hundreds of thousands of cases of bottled water.

Emergency services, the NHS and others held urgent meetings on what to do.

Then it rained. The reservoirs slowly filled.
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NeilT

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Re: Water management
« Reply #15 on: June 18, 2021, 05:35:14 PM »
Yes, but there is a difference.  Yorkshire may have been on standpipes because they screwed up by being incompetent.  In 76 it was very different.  Standpipes were authorised everywhere in the UK they were needed by central government. Because the whole country was at risk and there was no way of distributing the water from plentiful areas.

We were on holiday in France in 76, for a month, during the drought and when we got back it was all over. So I'd have to go to the news archives to find out if our home had standpipes.
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gerontocrat

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Re: Water management
« Reply #16 on: June 18, 2021, 06:29:58 PM »
US - Lake Mead

The people who run http://mead.uslakes.info/level.asp have decided it is necessary to reduce the minimum water level on the y-axis by 5 feet, to 1.065 ft ASL, which is more than 6.5 feet below the previous record low on Jul 1 2016.

I suppose you could call that water management, of a kind.
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Sigmetnow

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Re: Water management
« Reply #17 on: June 19, 2021, 03:29:46 PM »
Drought-stricken communities push back against data centers
Quote
As cash-strapped cities welcome Big Tech to build hundreds of million-dollar data centers in their backyards, critics question the environmental cost.

Many data center operators are drawn to water-starved regions in the West, in part due to the availability of solar and wind energy. Researchers at Virginia Tech estimate that one-fifth of data centers draw water from moderately to highly stressed watersheds, mostly in the Western United States, according to a paper published in April.

All centers need some form of cooling technology, typically either computer room air-conditioning systems -- essentially large units that cool air with water or refrigerant -- or evaporative cooling, which evaporates water to cool the air. Evaporative cooling uses a lot less electricity, but more water. Since water is cheaper than electricity, data centers tend to opt for the more water-intensive approach.

“The typical data center uses about 3-5 million gallons of water per day -- the same amount of water as a city of 30,000-50,000 people,” said Venkatesh Uddameri, professor and director of the Water Resources Center at Texas Tech University.

Although these data centers have become much more energy and water efficient over the last decade, and don’t use as much water as other industries such as agriculture, this level of water use can still create potential competition with local communities over the water supply in areas where water is scarce, he added.

But some tech companies like Google say they are trying to address their water use.

Some companies, including Microsoft have developed underwater or partially submerged data centers that rely on large bodies of already cool water to disperse heat.

Google’s Demasi said that the company cooled its data centers using seawater in Finland, industrial canal water in Belgium and recycled wastewater in the United States, at its site in Douglas County, Georgia.
https://www.nbcnews.com/tech/internet/drought-stricken-communities-push-back-against-data-centers-n1271344
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oren

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Re: Water management
« Reply #18 on: June 19, 2021, 08:58:49 PM »
Again corporate America gets a free ride, using so much water for evaporative cooling in the desert for cooling computers is simply crazy. Cost of water should reflect its scarcity and environmental cost, residents should get some subsidized allowance per person and the rest should be fully priced.

gerontocrat

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Re: Water management
« Reply #19 on: June 30, 2021, 01:49:12 PM »
Lake Mead & Lake Powell

I guess Lake Powell is the buffer/ backup for Lake Mead, feeding water to it as the dry season continues. But this year this looks a bit difficult, to say the least.

Things somehow stagger on for far longer than wjat seems possible. But eventually yet another tipping point is breached. Is this the case this year for the 40+ million people and agriculture that depend on this water? What do you do when you just cannot square the circle anymore.

I guess in the USA one just hopes that this dreadful year is just a one-off.
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NeilT

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Re: Water management
« Reply #20 on: June 30, 2021, 02:56:44 PM »
I guess in the USA one just hopes that this dreadful year is just a one-off.

They have been doing that for decades.  Not helped by the fact that what goes up so often comes back down again in torrential rain which feeds back into the system.

The problem is that humans have difficulty with 100 year events and 1,000 year events.  Especially when 100 year events come around every 10 years and 1,000 year events start to come around every 100 years.

When that changes to 2 and 50, it is around 50 years to late to allow for it.
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gerontocrat

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Re: Water management
« Reply #21 on: July 09, 2021, 08:51:07 AM »
Definitely worth a read.

https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2021/jul/08/us-west-rain-harvesters-rainwater-collection-drought-heatwave

‘Save our water’: meet the rain harvesters taking on the US west’s water woes
Quote
The American west has a sprawling network of dams, reservoirs and pipelines that brings a supply of water to its cities and farms. But overexploitation and a two-decade dry spell have put a severe strain on the resources, with reserves dwindling to historic lows in some areas. The situation will only get worse in the coming decades, warn scientists, as surging populations will boost freshwater demand and a hotter, drier climate will bring deeper droughts and more erratic precipitation patterns.

The response has traditionally involved expanding supplies by more diversions, wells and dams and mining more aquifers. But experts say new water-sourcing approaches are also needed.

One such is rainwater harvesting. The term describes a process where precipitation is captured from a catchment area like a roof and directed to a storage tank or a reservoir. From there, water can be used for irrigation or to supply humans and animals. The technique was used more than 4,000 years ago in Palestine, Greece and ancient Rome, where cisterns captured rain that drained from plazas and rooftops to supplement the city’s supply from aqueducts.

Today, rainwater capture is used across the world. In China, more than 22 million people across 17 provinces have their water supply bolstered by rainwater, according to researchers. In Thailand, a large fraction of the population in rural areas rely on rainwater harvesting for agriculture and drinking purposes. The practice is also popular in India, Mexico, Egypt, Sri Lanka, Australia and Bangladesh.

Rainwater catchment is still a relatively niche water-supply strategy across the western US. But this lo-tech and decentralized approach has been gaining momentum in recent years. Here we highlight individuals who are among the vanguard of practitioners.

The rancher
Bob Durham has ranched cattle in the high plains of the Texas panhandle his entire life and remembers when water flowed in bounteous quantities under his ranch in Abernathy, in Hale county. But that abundance has declined year after year, until one day in the drought-stricken summer of 2015 the wells supplying the operation ran dry.

“We had to haul water from Oklahoma and ultimately sell most of the livestock,” says the 88-year-old, who runs the land his father homesteaded a century ago along with his wife and two sons. “The water came back to my wells six months later when the rains recharged our aquifer, which made me realize I needed to move away from groundwater dependence.”

With that in mind, Durham went to the local Natural Resources Conservation Service office where he was advised to apply for possible financial assistance for an agricultural rainfall water harvesting system.

“I’ve had an interest in water harvesting for years,” said Durham. “Once they let me know the practice was available in the district, I signed up immediately.”

Six grey rainwater collection cisterns now sit next to his two barns. Roof gutters capture rainfall and channel it into a pipe, where a flush diverter separates the first flow of rainwater – which is the dirtiest –before it’s stored in the 5,000-gallon tanks. The water is then delivered, via gravity, through a pipeline to drinking troughs on nearby pastures, where Durham’s cattle graze.

While the amount of water the cows drink depends completely on the weather and the moisture in the grass, Durham says a two-inch rain on his barns yield enough water to meet the needs of 25 head of cattle for one month. Overall, he estimates his tanks catch about 200,000 gallons of water on an average each year. “It’s surprising how much water comes off a roof,” he said.

Durham still pumps some water during the low rainfall months of December and January, but he said he plans to install four more tanks on his property to further reduce the need to pump water from the underlying aquifer. He hopes more people in the area will follow his lead and install their own rainwater harvesting system.

“It’s just so important that we save our water, underground as well as surface water, too,” Durham said. “You can’t have life without water.”

The urban gardener
When Jamiah Hargins started growing fruits and vegetables in the front yard of his West Adams, Los Angeles, property, it was mostly because he felt the duty as a parent to make fresh food accessible to his newly born daughter, Trianna.

But when it came time to harvest his crops, Hargins realized that the small plot produced more than they could eat. Not wanting all the herbs, lemons and beans to go to waste, he turned to social networks to gauge his neighbors’ interest in a crop swap. The turnout was substantial. About 15 people came to the first meetup he organized, then 20, then 30. Now in its second year, the group has become an organization known as Crop Swap LA, a startup that helps homeowners turn urban spaces such as front yards, backyards and rooftops into microfarms.

Today Hargins cultivates more than 600 plants on his urban farm and feeds about 50 families throughout the majority Black neighborhood where he lives. The whole operation is supported by two basins that capture rainwater and irrigate the crops from the top, imitating rainwater falling during times of drought. A recycling system then cycles water through the soil, allowing Hargins to use a tiny fraction of the water needed to keep a lawn green in southern California’s arid climate.

“We use less than 10% of the water previously used to grow grass to now grow food,” says the 37-year-old former stock and equity trader. “I think about 800 gallons per day were needed to keep a yard this size. It’s astonishing how much it is when you really count it,” he says, noting that water bills immediately dropped and stayed low.

For Hargins, his microfarm, which he named Asante after a Swahili word meaning thank you, is a proof of concept for the larger goal to grow and distribute nutrient-rich food hyper-locally to underserved communities in south LA, large swaths of which suffer from low access to fresh food. “Affordable and easy access to healthy and nutritious food is a right, not a luxury,” says Hargins.

Ultimately, Hargins sees the concept underlying Crop Swap LA as a way to tackle the region’s worsening water woes. “LA depends on the Colorado River Basin for all of its water, and that will become scarcer due to the cost, politics and climate change,” he says. “Capturing as much rainfall as possible for future reuse must be part of the city’s next sustainable evolution.”

The guru

At his home near downtown Tucson, Arizona – where just 12in a year fall from the sky – Brad Lancaster can harvest as much rain to meet most of his water needs. Roof runoff collected in cisterns and earthen berms provides what he needs to bathe, cook and drink year-round.

When Lancaster gets thirsty, he drinks filtered rain, known as sweet water, “because it’s never picked up the salts and minerals you would find in ground and surface water”, he says. When he wants a hot shower, he places his outdoor water tank facing south to collect the sun’s rays. To water his abundant gardens, he directs stormwater runoff from the adjoining pathways and rainwater leftover from the shower, sink and washing machine to the roots of trees around his yard.

“More rain falls on the hardscapes and roofs in Tucson than the city uses in a year,” Lancaster says. “That means we have all the water we need, even in the desert – we just got to capture it and reuse it instead of letting it go to the drain.”

These days, Lancaster is something of a guru in the field. He has written two books on rainwater harvesting and does a hundred water-harvesting public talks and workshops a year throughout the United States, the Middle East, Mexico, Europe, Asia and Africa. But he started out as an outlaw.

Nearly two decades ago, he illegally cut his sidewalk curbs to allow storm water to rush off the street and infiltrate into roadside soil beds home to native trees. Today, these and over 1,000 trees that Lancaster and volunteers have planted across the neighborhood provide shade, cooling and food. And cutting holes in the curbs has not only become legal, it is even sanctioned by the city.

Lancaster believes a mainstream adoption of the concept would help reduce the city’s reliance on water sucked from the ground and imported from the Colorado River, while enabling multiple beneficial effects, such as lowering water bills, creating more green spaces that would provide shade and cooling and help restore the area’s dying rivers.

Thanks in part to Lancaster’s example, Tucson now considers water harvesting its fourth water source and has gradually implemented policies to further the practice. Since 2010, city law requires at least half of the landscaping for any new building use rainwater. The city council has also put in place a program that rebates residents as much as $2,000 for purchasing water harvesting systems.

Lancaster welcomes the shift, but urges caution. “We can’t get too proud here – otherwise we’ll be blinded by that,” Lancaster says “We’ve got a lot of change to go yet.”

The sheep herders

On the Hopi reservation in north-eastern Arizona, a largely rural area that’s a far cry from the artificial waterways that sustain sprawling metropolises like Phoenix and Las Vegas, nearly half of the people have no access to running water.

Diné, as the Navajo call themselves, sheep herders Arvin Bedonie and Marie Gladue, who live in the Black Mesa region of Big Mountain, are among them. Without a car and too old to haul water from the communal spigot – the only reliable source of clean drinking water people can count in the area – they have to delve deep into their purse to get the water they and their bighorn sheep need, spending on average $50 a week.

“The water itself is worth no more than $5,” explains Gladue, a former employee of the Black Mesa’s water department. “But to have someone carry it to you, you’re paying for someone else’s work. When you do the math, it all adds up.”

So in the spring of 2019, Gladue and Bedonie turned to the Black Mesa Water Coalition, a local non-profit environmental organization, which helped the couple secure a grant to install a rainwater collection system on their property.

Summers in Black Mesa have been atypically dry since then – even for the paltry south-western standards. Still, the little rain that does fall is now captured by a sloped gutter underneath the slanted metal roof of the sheep corral, funneled into two 600-gallon tanks and from there sent through a hose to a trough, where the couple’s curly-horned sheep can guzzle.

“I would say the system has been really good so far,” says Gladue. “And the sheep like the harvested water more than the other one, that’s for sure.”

Having witnessed the success of his cistern, she is open to going the next step and installing a gray-water reclamation system. She is also keen to help spread the technology to friends and neighbors who live without access to water. “I’m hoping to write grants for other people to get barrels,” she says. “We all need water to survive.”
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Sigmetnow

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Re: Water management
« Reply #22 on: July 09, 2021, 03:52:27 PM »
‘Save our water’: meet the rain harvesters taking on the US west’s water woes


Some U.S. states restrict rain harvesting.  It's been believed that the collection of rainwater would halt the rainfall’s natural flow into the earth’s aquifers and streams. Colorado for many years forbid the use of rain barrels.
Quote
But is it illegal to collect rainwater or have some of these stories been exaggerated?

The short answer is that rainwater harvesting is not illegal.

The longer answer is that there are no federal laws that restrict rainwater harvesting, and while there are some states that have strict regulations, most states allow their residents to collect rainwater freely.

This site lists regulations by state:
https://worldwaterreserve.com/rainwater-harvesting/is-it-illegal-to-collect-rainwater/

Examples of regulations:
Quote
Colorado: some regulation
Colorado has traditionally been one of the most restrictive states for rainwater harvesting. Two laws were passed in 2009 which loosened restrictions on rainwater collection, allowing residents to use rainwater for non-potable purposes. In 2016, House Bill 16-1005 was passed, allowing residents to collect rainwater from a catchment system on their rooftops into two rain barrels, with a combined capacity of 110 gallons. The collected rain must be used on the property where it is collected and may only be used for outdoor purposes such as lawn irrigation and gardening.

Quote
Texas: some regulation
It is legal to harvest rainwater in Texas. There are several provisions in House Bill 3391 which should be noted, such as the requirement the catchment system being incorporate into the design of the building and the requirement to give a written notice to the municipality.

Quote
Utah: some regulation
The State of Utah authorizes the direct collection of rainwater on land owned or leased by the person responsible for the collection. According to Senate Bill 32 (2010), a person registered with the Division of Water Resources cannot store more than 2,500 gallons of rainwater. If unregistered, no more than two containers may be used, and the maximum capacity of any one container may not exceed 100 gallons (Utah Code Ann. §73-3-1.5)
« Last Edit: July 09, 2021, 03:59:03 PM by Sigmetnow »
People who say it cannot be done should not interrupt those who are doing it.

gerontocrat

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Re: Water management
« Reply #23 on: July 10, 2021, 10:33:34 PM »
Lake Powell water level going down.

Lake Mead water level going down.

Both https://www.drought.gov/current-conditions and https://www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov/products/predictions/long_range/seasonal.php?lead=2 give no prospect of relief at all this summer.

What do you do when the reality is outside the bounds of the plans made even for the worst-case scenario?

This is serious stuff
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vox_mundi

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Re: Water management
« Reply #24 on: July 13, 2021, 02:40:23 PM »
Study Shows Dire Impacts Downstream of Nile River Dam
https://phys.org/news/2021-07-dire-impacts-downstream-nile-river.html

Rapid filling of a giant dam at the headwaters of the Nile River—the world's biggest waterway that supports millions of people—could reduce water supplies to downstream Egypt by more than one-third, new USC research shows

A water deficit of that magnitude, if unmitigated, could potentially destabilize a politically volatile part of the world by reducing arable land in Egypt by up to 72%. The study projects that economic losses to agriculture would reach $51 billion. The gross domestic product loss would push unemployment to 24%, displacing lots of people and disrupting economies.

"Averaging losses from all of the announced filling scenarios, these water shortages could nearly double Egypt's present water supply deficit and will have dire consequences for Egypt's economy, employment, migration and food supply."

The crux of the controversy is Ethiopia's $5 billion Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam nearing completion at the Nile headwaters. Now in the second phase of filling, it will be the largest hydropower project in Africa and would create a reservoir containing 74 billion cubic meters of water—more than twice the operational capacity of Lake Mead on the Colorado River.

It's so vast that it will take years to fill, and depending on how long it takes, the water diversions could have devastating impacts downstream. Egypt and Sudan have water rights to the Nile, while Ethiopia was not allocated a quantifiable share. But as water and energy demand grows in the Nile River basin, Ethiopia is asserting its needs for hydropower and irrigated agriculture to promote development.

Some 280 million people in 11 countries in the basin depend on the waterway—a primary source of irrigation for more than 5,000 years. Egypt relies on the Nile for more than 90% of its water. The region's population could increase by 25% in 30 years, increasing demand at a time when Egypt would expect less water from the Nile. Water rights along the Nile have been in dispute since 1959; today, the conflict threatens to escalate into a war.

The USC study examined various dam filling scenarios and water shortage impacts for Egypt. Based on the short-term filling strategies of 3 to 5 years, presently favored by Ethiopia, the water deficit downstream in Egypt could almost double; 83% of the additional water loss would be due to dam restraining flow and evaporation and 17% lost due to seepage into rocks and sand.

Meanwhile, tensions run high as negotiators try to avert armed conflict. Egypt has vowed not to allow the dam to impede its water supply, and it held joint military maneuvers with Sudan in May. Sudan has since petitioned the United Nations Security Council to hold an emergency session as soon as possible.

The dispute is emblematic of wider disputes over water scarcity as climate change affects developing countries experiencing rapid growth. Disputes along the Mekong, Zambezi and Euphrates-Tigris rivers, among others, show the potential for political instability and conflict.

Essam Heggy et al, Egypt's water budget deficit and suggested mitigation policies for the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam filling scenarios, Environmental Research Letters (2021).
https://iopscience.iop.org/article/10.1088/1748-9326/ac0ac9
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kassy

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Re: Water management
« Reply #25 on: July 14, 2021, 07:51:52 PM »
I moved the posts about the possible fall out to Water Wars:

Looks like they will have to pick up arms and fight for their future.
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