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Thu Jun 10, 2021, 07:30 PM

Hoover Dam reservoir hits record low, in sign of extreme western U.S. drought

The reservoir created by Hoover Dam, an engineering marvel that symbolized the American ascendance of the 20th Century, has sunk to its lowest level ever, underscoring the gravity of the extreme drought across the U.S. West.

Lake Mead, formed in the 1930s from the damming of the Colorado River at the Nevada-Arizona border about 30 miles (50 km) east of Las Vegas, is the largest reservoir in the United States. It is crucial to the water supply of 25 million people including in the cities of Los Angeles, San Diego, Phoenix, Tucson and Las Vegas.

As of 11 p.m. PDT Wednesday (0600 GMT Thursday), the lake surface fell to 1,071.56 feet above sea level, dipping below the previous record low set on July 1, 2016. It has fallen 140 feet (42.7 meters) since 2000 - nearly the height of the Statue of Liberty from torch to base - exposing a bathtub ring of bleached-white embankments.

The drought that has brought Lake Mead low has gripped California, the Pacific Northwest, the Great Basin spanning Nevada, Oregon and Utah, plus the southwestern states of Arizona and New Mexico and even part of the Northern Plains.

https://www.reuters.com/world/us/hoover-dam-reservoir-hits-record-low-sign-extreme-western-us-drought-2021-06-10/

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Response to Klaralven (Original post)

Thu Jun 10, 2021, 07:35 PM

1. Scary shit...

Water resources going down. Western kansaas depends on the ogallala aquifer for irrigation and...

"Today the Ogallala Aquifer is being depleted at an annual volume equivalent to 18 Colorado Rivers. Although precipitation and river systems are recharging a few parts of the northern aquifer, in most places nature cannot keep up with human demands."



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Response to Maxheader (Reply #1)

Thu Jun 10, 2021, 11:04 PM

8. Nobody is going to starve if those farms have to be abandoned.

Meat and dairy products may become luxuries but eaten in excess those are not healthy food for people anyways

Furthermore factory farm meat and dairy is not so good for the animals or the people who chop them up for the grocery stores. Eating an old dairy cow in a cheap fast food taco is not a human right. Cheap bacon is not a human right.

As a nation we could buy out farms before drought bankrupts them and pay people, maybe the farmers themselves, to restore the land to a somewhat natural state. Give me a home where the buffalo roam.

We wouldn't even have to kick anyone out of great grandma's house. Bring them high speed internet and they could work online, possibly exploring ways of farming that do not require the exploitation of increasingly problematic water supplies.

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Response to Maxheader (Reply #1)

Thu Jun 10, 2021, 11:05 PM

9. +1

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Response to Klaralven (Original post)

Thu Jun 10, 2021, 07:45 PM

2. Drought is awful.

Why can't Obama use those tiny airplanes to push the weather around like that dumbass at info wars used to talk about?

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Response to Klaralven (Original post)

Thu Jun 10, 2021, 08:25 PM

3. And the rich are buying up water rights left and right.

Pretty soon they are going to start gouging us on a resource that has always been free and plentiful. They will do anything for a quick buck, even if it means depriving us of one of our most basic needs if we can't afford it.

There is plenty of water in the world, but only a very small amount of it is drinkable and easily accessible.

“Water is the oil of the 21st century.” Andrew Liveris, CEO of DOW Chemical Company (quoted in The Economist magazine, August 21, 2008)

More on this if you are interested...

https://ecologise.in/2019/11/17/the-new-water-barons-wall-street-is-buying-up-the-worlds-water/

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Response to Klaralven (Original post)

Thu Jun 10, 2021, 08:32 PM

4. It's too bad we don't have the technology to store and divert water from floods

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Response to Buckeyeblue (Reply #4)

Thu Jun 10, 2021, 10:36 PM

7. The dams along the Colorado River are very good at capturing floodwaters.

The river rarely makes its way all the way to the ocean.

Transporting floodwaters from Eastern U.S.A. to the West wouldn't be so easy. Pumping water thousands of miles over elevations of nearly a mile wouldn't be worth the cost.

Rising oceans are a similar problem. Building seawalls along the entire length of our coasts really isn't an option.

The only real option is figuring out how to comfortably relocate people as places become uninhabitable, preferably with their communities intact.

Some places will be salvageable with technological solutions, but most will not.

If we don't deal with these problems in a rational way it will be chaos. The U.S.A. could end up looking a lot like Syria does now.

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Response to hunter (Reply #7)

Fri Jun 11, 2021, 10:53 AM

11. What about using oil drilling technology to get to underground water supplies

And improving reverse osmosis technology to make salt water potable. We are never going to be able to relocate the bigger western cities.

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Response to Buckeyeblue (Reply #11)

Fri Jun 11, 2021, 01:04 PM

12. Using fossil water merely postpones the problem...

... and safely disposing of the brine isn't a trivial problem.

On the Colorado River it looks like upstream users will be buying expensive desalinated ocean water for Californian, Mexican, and Native American downstream users in exchange for any Colorado River water these downstream users are now entitled to. This is already happening to some extent.

New nuclear power plants in Arizona might end up supplying electricity to desalinization plants in Southern California and towns across the Mexican Border.

Burning natural gas to desalinate water is insane. Fossil fuels caused this problem. Burning more fossil fuels will make the problem worse.

Desalinization takes a lot of energy, currently about 3 kilowatt hours per cubic meter for seawater and is most economically accomplished as a continuous process. The water produced is inexpensive enough for interior household use, and household sewage can be recycled back into fresh water, but it's not inexpensive enough for most agriculture.

At some point desalinated sea water from the Gulf of California might even make its way to the lower elevations of Arizona, especially if Lake Mead goes stagnant.

We ought to be planning for this expensive future now.

It's not true we can't relocate cities. Cities are people. When a place become uninhabitable people leave. That's happened throughout human history. What kind of welcome these people get elsewhere is another matter.

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Response to hunter (Reply #12)

Fri Jun 11, 2021, 01:28 PM

13. Why couldn't we use wind or solar energy as the power source for desalinization?

I agree people have relocated historically based on environmental needs. But we have more people than ever before. We should look to corporations to help drive this relocation by moving headquarters/offices or at the least phasing them out. I'm not sure where these people will go. Are we going to create major cities in the Dakotas? People dont want to live where it gets cold.

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Response to Buckeyeblue (Reply #13)

Fri Jun 11, 2021, 02:36 PM

16. Wind and Solar are not able to provide energy 24 hours every day of the year.

This intermittency increases the cost of desalinization by a factor of two at least.

If solar panels and wind turbines were free, created by magic from coal ash, the problem is still the same. These solar panels and wind turbines must have backup power (usually natural gas, which is bad), and/or some kind of large scale energy storage, and/or the desalinization plants themselves must designed to withstand frequent idle conditions of indeterminate length. All those are expensive and some are still engineering challenges.

I think the urban and suburban people of the Phoenix area will figure out how to stay. Farmers dependent on Colorado River water, especially farmers of lower value crops that require large amounts of water, won't be so fortunate.

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Response to Buckeyeblue (Reply #4)

Fri Jun 11, 2021, 07:15 AM

10. Kansaas is STILL looking at...



a canal from the Missouri River to western parts of the

state....

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Response to Maxheader (Reply #10)

Fri Jun 11, 2021, 01:40 PM

14. Yep, advocates even have their own web page.

https://kansasaqueductcoalition.com/

I like my idea better.

There's nothing sacred about farming. It's an industry like any other.

Farmers should be regulated just as industries are.

Industries that kill, maim, or otherwise abuse their workers are rightfully shut down. Industries that pollute the air and water and poison their neighbors are rightfully shut down.

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Response to hunter (Reply #14)

Fri Jun 11, 2021, 01:56 PM

15. Farming is a complicated business...

Providing food for the world is a lot of responsibility...it takes experience to farm

and if we were to lose that through complacency we might be truly fucked..Especially

since some of the countries we buy from might quit selling to us, for whatever reason.

China has quit buying coal from australia cuz the aussies are looking into chinas guilt

on the corona pandemic. So now some of chinas provinces can't run their manufacturing

facilities..residential shortages....The big boys can play with the markets to the advantage

of some and the disadvantage of others...including the commodities markets....

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Response to Maxheader (Reply #15)

Fri Jun 11, 2021, 04:08 PM

17. I'm not a militant vegan, sometimes I eat meat and dairy products.

... but I'm not going to be sad if the factory farm meat or dairy industry evaporates and all the farmers who supply feed for that industry go out of business as well.

I don't think turning corn into a fuel is a good idea either. That does not make the world a better place.

People are not going to starve if we buy out family farmers in drought stricken areas; if western Kansas or the California deserts are restored to some kind of wilderness. If these farmers still want to farm, maybe they'll have to relocate. That's frequently required of people working in other industries.

If lower income people can't afford milk that doesn't come from industrial scale dairy operations then let's raise their incomes to the point where they can afford healthy alternatives to milk.

My own diet is largely rice, beans, corn, and whatever fruits and vegetables I have about. Sometimes I'll add some beef, fish, eggs, or cheese, but not every day.

My wife is entirely vegetarian, approaching vegan.

But in some ways we are hypocrites -- we do have dogs and don't expect them to be vegetarian. The chicken in their kibble probably came from the factory farm egg industry. The beef in their dog treats was old dairy cows.

I live in a community where most of the industry is agriculture. From where I'm writing this I can walk to fields of strawberries and specialty lettuce in just a few minutes. Most of my neighbors, one way or another, are associated with that industry. It's difficult to predict how the continuing drought will ultimately affect this place. I suspect urban, suburban, and industrial users will be stuck with expensive desalinated water and agriculture will get whatever rain that falls, some of it captured in dams and aquifers for use in the dry season.

Minimizing the environmental impact of waste brine from desalinization plants is going to be a significant engineering and political challenge.




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Response to Klaralven (Original post)

Thu Jun 10, 2021, 08:35 PM

5. Can I dig a well? n/t

 

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Response to Klaralven (Original post)

Thu Jun 10, 2021, 09:02 PM

6. Soon to be the great north american desert

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