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OldLeatherneck

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Texas Drought and Water Issues
« on: February 19, 2014, 03:57:41 PM »

Medina Lake is 3.3% full as of 2014-02-19


http://waterdatafortexas.org/reservoirs/individual/medina



Per Jack Taylor's suggestion, I've started this thread to discuss issues related to the current and future droughts in Texas as well as the many water usage issues that plague a state whose economy depends on agriculture and the oil 7 gas industry, which are very water intensive.

Medina lake is less that 30 miles from where I live and is just west of San Antonio.  Of all the lakes in Texas, this one is probably in the worst condition regarding current water levels.

As I mentioned in the other thread, the Texas Drought Project http://texasdroughtproject.org/ finally has a functioning website, with numerous links to valuable resources regarding water issues and climate change.  What I found interesting and informative was this Q&A regarding desalinization:

Quote
Q - If we get really desperate for water, can't we build desalination plants? After all,  climate change experts say that the seas are going to rise, so couldn't we use some of that water?

A - Desalination plants utilize a tremendous amount of energy, requiring new plants to be built to power them. In addition to seeming counter-productive, desalination is also far from a perfect process. Chemical and pharmaceutical waste, oil from offshore platforms and vessel spills, organic decaying matter from sea life, and "nerdles" - plastic pieces that resemble fish eggs - all find their way into the water produced through desalination. Additionally, chemicals have to be added in the process so as not to corrode the metal machinery in the plant. Desalinating water for human consumption in Texas would be energy-intensive and costly,  and the product would be contaminated.  Activist Maude Barlow, author of "Blue Covenant" and "Blue Gold,"  books about the commodification and scarcity of water, talks about the "inky" substance which emanates from the plants - she describes it as looking like it came out of a squid.  Desalination is not the answer to our problems with water.

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CraigsIsland

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Re: Texas Drought and Water Issues
« Reply #1 on: February 19, 2014, 09:27:40 PM »
Fascinating-

 is there a broader map of Texas and water storage and perhaps some sort of table that shows how much is being used where/how? It's ok if this data isn't available; I just find this kind of information useful. I have found similar data sets for California before and they are insightful!

JackTaylor

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Re: Texas Drought and Water Issues
« Reply #2 on: February 19, 2014, 11:32:01 PM »
Fascinating-

 is there a broader map of Texas and water storage and perhaps some sort of table that shows how much is being used where/how? It's ok if this data isn't available; I just find this kind of information useful. I have found similar data sets for California before and they are insightful!

OLN,
Thanks for taking a hint you may be better situated to begin a Texas topic.  Although I do have relatives, in laws, and outlaws - old business contacts - all over the state.

You can still follow Texas water from anywhere after your house sells.

Maybe we can get Neven to "pin" the first post and you can add links to it as time goes by.
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

 CraigsIsland,
Yes there is much more about Texas water online.  With just a little going out on a limb I'm going to venture they have as much as more online than any other state.

As in OLN's reference to Medina Lake, there is a clickable list at:
http://www.waterdatafortexas.org/reservoirs/statewide
Note "zero storage"Lake Meredith near Amarillo.

Also, a mouse-over read out storage at:
Data App: Track Texas Reservoir Levels
http://www.texastribune.org/library/data/texas-reservoir-levels/
go to their home page and can usually find a water story or two.
Note Lake Meredith

River flow observations and forecast with some reservoir levels at:
http://www.srh.noaa.gov/wgrfc/

Also, I like
http://southwestfarmpress.com/

El Paso has an active "brine brackish water" desalination plant due to low flow of the Rio Grande.

Think I read within the past month or so San Antonio is - may be in the process a "brine brackish water" desal facility.
« Last Edit: February 20, 2014, 05:03:07 PM by JackTaylor »

DrTskoul

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Re: Texas Drought and Water Issues
« Reply #3 on: February 20, 2014, 04:14:57 AM »
Reverse osmosis membranes can exclude even metal ions. Therefore organic decaying matter and plastic pieces cannot pass through. Activated carbon filters can remove a lot of organic molecules. Some small solvent molecules can pass through as well as dissolved gases. Only small organic molecules can pass through. Oil just messes up the membranes. Only pinhole flaws can allow contaminants to pass through.

Problem is too much energy needed as well as rejected water with high salt concentration that needs to be disposed. However it represents the only future solution for some nations and regions.

JackTaylor

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Re: Texas Drought and Water Issues
« Reply #4 on: February 20, 2014, 05:35:27 PM »
Reverse osmosis membranes can exclude even metal ions. Therefore organic decaying matter and plastic pieces cannot pass through. Activated carbon filters can remove a lot of organic molecules. Some small solvent molecules can pass through as well as dissolved gases. Only small organic molecules can pass through. Oil just messes up the membranes. Only pinhole flaws can allow contaminants to pass through.

Problem is too much energy needed as well as rejected water with high salt concentration that needs to be disposed. However it represents the only future solution for some nations and regions.

DrTskoul,

Must agree with you, and a lot of talk about desalination, pros-&-cons.

It seems high users of desalination, such as Saudi Arabia, are realizing "Solar Renewable" is or will become competitive as the energy source.

Some people claim half a days production (daylight - sunshine) of water for direct human consumption is better than no water at all.  For agriculture - will all areas be able to import food?

For more information for others, I wish to add:
a google of "saudi arabia desalination energy"
- and -
If it gets very bad, though extra expensive, I expect to see a second or third step(s) of  d-ionization or steam evaporation in attempts to further purify rev-osmosis treated.

JimD

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Re: Texas Drought and Water Issues
« Reply #5 on: February 21, 2014, 05:32:47 PM »
Not purely on topic but definitely a side effect related to the water issue.

Fracking Boom Leaves Texans Under a Toxic Cloud

Quote
When Lynn Buehring leaves her doctor's office in San Antonio she makes sure her inhaler is on the seat beside her, then steers her red GMC pickup truck southeast on U.S. 181, toward her home on the South Texas prairie.

About 40 miles down the road, between Poth and Falls City, drilling rigs, crude oil storage tanks and flares trailing black smoke appear amid the mesquite, live oak and pecan trees. Depending on the speed and direction of the wind, a yellow-brown haze might stretch across the horizon, filling the car with pungent odors. Sometimes Buehring's eyes burn, her chest tightens and pain stabs at her temples.

Quote
Today, however, the ranch-style house she shares with her 66-year-old husband, Shelby, is at the epicenter of one of the nation's biggest and least-publicized oil and gas booms. With more than 50 wells drilled within 2.5 miles of their home, the days when the Buehrings could sit on the deck that Shelby built and lull away an afternoon are long gone. The fumes won't let them.

Known as the Eagle Ford Shale play, this 400-mile-long, 50-mile-wide bacchanal of oil and gas extraction stretches from Leon County, Texas, in the northeast to the Mexico border in the southwest.

Since 2008, more than 7,000 oil and gas wells have been sunk into the brittle, sedimentary rock. Another 5,500 have been approved by state regulators, making the Eagle Ford one of the most active drilling sites in America.

Quote
In addition to the wells near their home, there are at least nine oil and gas production facilities. Little is known about six of the facilities, because they don't have to file their emissions data with the state. Air permits for the remaining three sites show they house 25 compressor engines, 10 heater treaters, 6 flares, 4 glycol dehydrators and 65 storage tanks for oil, wastewater and condensate. Combined, those sites have the state's permission to release 189 tons of volatile organic compounds, a class of toxic chemicals that includes benzene and formaldehyde, into the air each year. That's about 12 percent more than Valero's Houston Oil Refinery disgorged in 2012.

Those three facilities also are allowed to release 142 tons of nitrogen oxides, 95 tons of carbon monoxide, 19 tons of sulfur dioxide, 8 tons of particulate matter and 0.31 tons of hydrogen sulfide per year. Sometimes the emissions soar high into the sky and are carried by the wind until they drop to the ground miles away. Sometimes they blow straight toward the Buehrings' or their neighbors' homes.

People are always whining about something.  They don't even have any proof this stuff is bad for you.  Let's just give the place back to Mexico.

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-02-20/fracking-boom-leaves-texans-under-a-toxic-cloud.html
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Sigmetnow

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Re: Texas Drought and Water Issues
« Reply #6 on: March 01, 2014, 01:22:27 PM »
Austin and San Antonio are learning to conserve.  Chart compares several large Texas cities' water use:

http://www.climatecentral.org/news/austin-san-antonio-see-culture-of-water-conservation-17130
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Sigmetnow

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Re: Texas Drought and Water Issues
« Reply #7 on: March 01, 2014, 01:37:27 PM »
Austin is also concerned about their wildfire threat.  Some homeowners are removing brush and trees and using more fire-resistant materials on their houses to make their properties "Firewise".

http://www.climatecentral.org/news/austin-a-poster-child-for-urban-wildfire-threat-17058

http://www.firewise.org/?sso=0
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JimD

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Re: Texas Drought and Water Issues
« Reply #8 on: March 01, 2014, 05:53:46 PM »
Sig

I noticed from your link that the best place in Texas for water use was El Paso with a per capita daily use of 143 gallons.

We got our water bill here in Prescott AZ yesterday and the per capita daily use at our house is ....25 gallons over the last 2 months.

They can do a lot better.
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Stephen

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Re: Texas Drought and Water Issues
« Reply #9 on: March 02, 2014, 09:16:02 AM »
I remember during our big drought down here in South-East Australia (97-09) our government introduced these big awareness campaigns, one of which was called "campaign 155", meaning that we were being encouraged to reduce our consumption to 155 litres per person per day. 

That wasn't possible for my family simply because we were already down at 100 litres per person per day, this was with 2 adults, 2 young children and a big garden that I kept well watered.

They should have made that target 50 litres per person per day.  I couldn't really imagine how any family could use 150 or more per person per day until my daughters turned into teenagers and started taking 40 minute showers. Now I understand.

Anyway, when our storage got down below 20% the government decided on a very big and very expensive desal plant, which will be powered by burning brown coal.

But thanks to the heavy rainfall of the La Nina of 2009-2010 our dams are now about 75% full and that plant has been operational but never required for nearly 2 years. At a cost of about $A500 million per year. 

I behalf of all Australians, I apologize.

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Re: Texas Drought and Water Issues
« Reply #10 on: March 02, 2014, 09:33:56 AM »
I noticed from your link that the best place in Texas for water use was El Paso with a per capita daily use of 143 gallons.

We got our water bill here in Prescott AZ yesterday and the per capita daily use at our house is ....25 gallons over the last 2 months.

They can do a lot better.

Live on a boat, and 25 gallons per day per capita looks pretty insane too? Don't get too smug! You can all do a lot better...

Stephen

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Re: Texas Drought and Water Issues
« Reply #11 on: March 02, 2014, 11:46:36 AM »
My personal use is probably less than 50 litres(~10 gallons).  That would be made up of 4 toilet flushes (20 litres), one 2-minute shower, handwashing, dishwashing, clotheswashing, cooking and cleaning.  Toilet flushing is the big unnecessary user.   When I was a child about age 5 we had our thunderbox (can toilet) replaced and we were connected to the sewerage system. But us kids were told not to flush for urine, "If it's brown flush it down, if its yellow, let it mellow"

Urine is quite sterile and it's harmless for a child to not flush it.  That simple rule would save huge quantities of fresh water.
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JimD

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Re: Texas Drought and Water Issues
« Reply #12 on: March 02, 2014, 04:40:30 PM »
Stephen

We both grew up in the desert and we were trained to follow the flushing method you describe.  What eats the water here (and we do feel some guilt about) is the use of the dishwasher (very bad) and washing machine.  We are being lazy and I am sure if we hand washed the dishes it would cut many gallons a day from our consumption.  We are about as good on showers as one can be.  We do save a lot of grey water and pour it on the plants outside and never irrigate the yard as our neighbors do. PLUS we got our first rain yesterday in 3 months!! Almost an inch!

Water usage in the American southwest is so high that Australian type water conservation here would allow us to triple the population even with the droughts.  We are going to have water problems all right, but of the adapting our lifestyles to a new way of consuming not to anything like true shortages (those will come of course but not for a few decades).

 
We do not err because truth is difficult to see. It is visible at a glance. We err because this is more comfortable. Alexander Solzhenitsyn

How is it conceivable that all our technological progress - our very civilization - is like the axe in the hand of the pathological criminal? Albert Einstein

icefest

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Re: Texas Drought and Water Issues
« Reply #13 on: March 02, 2014, 10:18:03 PM »
I sailed across the Atlantic in `10, I doubt we used more than 20L per person per day.  Admittedly toilets were flushed using sea-water.

When I finally get around to having my own home (still a student) I'm planning on running toilets off a grey water system.

I do suspect though, that a water saving dishwasher uses less water than 3x daily hand dishwashing, at least for a single person household.

Open other end.

ritter

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Re: Texas Drought and Water Issues
« Reply #14 on: March 03, 2014, 06:14:29 PM »
Our last water bill showed us at 44 gallons/person/day. Not too shabby. We are somewhat hamstrung by having a kid and the laundry they produce. We haven't invested in a front loading washer, so I suspect we could cut that usage some with the investment.

OldLeatherneck

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Re: Texas Drought and Water Issues
« Reply #15 on: March 11, 2014, 12:35:18 AM »
In Central Texas, Drought Threatens Hydropower



Full Article in Texas Tribune: http://www.texastribune.org/2014/03/10/central-texas-drought-threatens-hydropower/

Quote
Central Texas’ yearslong drought could eventually snuff out a renewable power source that fueled its early growth: hydropower.

Faced with dwindling water supplies, the Lower Colorado River Authority, which supplies water and energy to much of Central Texas, is limiting downstream water releases for activities like rice farming. Aside from stirring controversy among water users, the changes have also shrunk the amount of electricity the agency generates from its six Colorado River dams..................................................

..........................As a low-cost, no-pollution energy source that can be quickly turned on and off, hydroelectricity is a coveted power source, said Webber, but it’s a “pretty limited option” for Texas, whose geography and climate are ill-suited for it. And since the state long ago dammed up its best rivers, it is unlikely to grow much — if at all — in the future.

“You’re driven by Mother Nature,” he said. “And Mother Nature has already voted.” 
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Sigmetnow

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Re: Texas Drought and Water Issues
« Reply #16 on: March 16, 2014, 01:04:45 PM »
National Guard called in to help Texas towns overrun by tumble weeds due to the drought!

http://www.weather.com/news/record-low-texas-lakes-drought-worsens-20140315
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JackTaylor

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Re: Texas Drought and Water Issues
« Reply #17 on: March 17, 2014, 11:42:57 AM »
Not all people see the Texas Drought and Water Issues as bad news.

New York Times, http://www.nytimes.com has an excellent article.

“It truly is a good time to be a water attorney in Texas,” said Mr. Jason Hill, the lawyer in a San Angelo dispute. “There’s work here as far as the eye can see.”
http://www.nytimes.com/2014/03/17/us/wests-drought-and-growth-intensify-conflict-over-water-rights.html

Also, another paragraph:  Mumford, TX

"Just outside this minuscule farm town, Frank DeStefano was feeding a 500-acre cotton crop with water from the Brazos River 16 months ago when state regulators told him and hundreds of others on the river to shut down their pumps. A sprawling petrochemical complex at the junction of the Brazos and the Gulf of Mexico   (Freeport, Tex., plant of the Dow Chemical Company, whose water rights were honored when river levels dipped)  held senior rights to the river’s water — and with the Brazos shriveled, it had run short."




JimD

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Re: Texas Drought and Water Issues
« Reply #18 on: March 18, 2014, 02:55:42 PM »
We do not err because truth is difficult to see. It is visible at a glance. We err because this is more comfortable. Alexander Solzhenitsyn

How is it conceivable that all our technological progress - our very civilization - is like the axe in the hand of the pathological criminal? Albert Einstein

Sigmetnow

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Re: Texas Drought and Water Issues
« Reply #19 on: June 09, 2014, 11:40:30 PM »
Texas landowners now seeing the vast amounts of water extracted for fracking as the reason their water wells are drying up.

http://www.dentonrc.com/local-news/local-news-headlines/20140608-water-woes-drawn-away.ece
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Gray-Wolf

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Re: Texas Drought and Water Issues
« Reply #20 on: June 09, 2014, 11:54:53 PM »
What! Big Oil not giving a chuff about messing other folks worlds up? Well, would you ever?
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Re: Texas Drought and Water Issues
« Reply #21 on: June 10, 2014, 12:16:17 AM »
Texas landowners now seeing the vast amounts of water extracted for fracking as the reason their water wells are drying up.

Yes indeed....what a shock...:)  Not only do the frackers (no relation to the Fockers) taint all the water in surrounding wells, lakes, and rivers......they USE UP a lot of the water.


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Sigmetnow

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Re: Texas Drought and Water Issues
« Reply #22 on: June 11, 2014, 03:42:21 AM »
NASA "Images of Change":  Elephant Butte Reservoir in New Mexico (southwest US).  From mostly full, to 3% full.  It provides water for farmland and about half the population of El Paso, Texas.

http://climate.nasa.gov/state_of_flux#Elephant_Butte_930x607.jpg
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Re: Texas Drought and Water Issues
« Reply #23 on: June 11, 2014, 03:48:52 PM »
NASA "Images of Change":  Elephant Butte Reservoir in New Mexico (southwest US).  From mostly full, to 3% full.  It provides water for farmland and about half the population of El Paso, Texas.

http://climate.nasa.gov/state_of_flux#Elephant_Butte_930x607.jpg

Most amazing from that 2nd image, water flow through the reservoir has essentially stopped. The  middle of the reservoir appears to be either completely dry or mud.

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Re: Texas Drought and Water Issues
« Reply #24 on: June 11, 2014, 05:01:56 PM »
I know New Mexico is not in Texas, but Elephant Butte Reservoir does serve El Paso and the lower Rio Grande.
http://www.waterdatafortexas.org/reservoirs/individual/elephant-butte

Currently, Elephant Butte Reservoir is at 16.2% full.  This is about twice what it was one year ago (8.2%) and four or five times the 2013 minimum (in July).  Water levels for the last five years are roughly what they were in the 1950s, '60s and '70s.
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Re: Texas Drought and Water Issues
« Reply #25 on: June 26, 2014, 06:03:00 PM »

Sigmetnow

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Re: Texas Drought and Water Issues
« Reply #26 on: July 07, 2014, 02:27:47 PM »
In some counties in the High Plains of Texas -- part of "America's Breadbasket" that helps feed the world -- the Ogallala aquifer will soon be too low to be of any practical value.

http://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/last-drop-americas-breadbasket-faces-dire-water-crisis-n146836
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Re: Texas Drought and Water Issues
« Reply #27 on: July 11, 2014, 08:16:45 PM »
Marfa, Texas residents protest their city selling water for fracking.

http://stateimpact.npr.org/texas/2014/07/11/marfa-residents-protest-city-water-sales/
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Re: Texas Drought and Water Issues
« Reply #28 on: July 16, 2014, 10:03:05 PM »
Texas towns fear running dry as fracking trucks fill up on their water.

http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2013/aug/11/texas-tragedy-ample-oil-no-water
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