Monday, April 06, 2015

You'll Never Miss the Water 'till the Well Runs Dry

New York Times cover. Desert on the right, development on left.

It's not a shortage of water, it's a longage of people.

California, hit with a longage of people in the state, and a longage of people in the U.S., and a longage of people in the world, is running out of water so fast that major changes are going to have to occur in both agriculture and industry.

Simply put, we cannot grow on like this.


PipedreamFarm said...

The news is full of how much water each sector is using, but no one seems to be looking at how much water per acre each sector is using. I suspect (based upon "back of the envelope estimates using info available on-line) landscapes are getting 4x the amount of water per acre than food crops. In other words, esthetics are consuming 4x the amount of a precious resource per acre than food.

PBurns said...

Interesting question!

From Wikipedia ( ): About 80% of California's water consumption is used for agricultural and environmental purposes -- 34,000,000 acre-feet of water are used to irrigate almost 29,000,000 acres. An acre-foot is 325,853 US gallons. That works out be about 1.172 acre feet of water per acre, or 381,800 gallons of water to irrigate each acre (or a little over 100 gallons per acre per day).

A 2000 study of a sampling of 735 California homes across ten water districts found that the weighted average annual total water use of these homes was 132,000 US gallons, or 362 US gallons per household per day. A little over half of this water use is for landscaping.

So, one way to think of it , is that every person in California is -- roughly -- consuming enough water to irrigate one acre. Landscaping associated for that person is consuming enough water to irrigate about half an acre.

In the U.S., the average person needs about two acres to grow the food they need to keep themselves in vittles. Obviously, not all of that food will need to be irrigated.

jeff hays said...

As Obama administration fiddles about with the Keystone pipeline, the thought occurs to me someday the economics of a 36 inch diameter pipeline from Lake Superior over the spine of the Rockies may be viable, but the Avocado will $5 09 at the ShopNSave.

Michael said...

Chick peas and soy are not sustainable???? The vegans will be very upset.

5string said...

Here in Tennessee we have Jack Daniels water gurgling up out of the limestone. Deeee-lish!

BTW I have the ultimate man-made climate change believer's solution to the water shortage - wind powered desalination plants.

Time to see how the wind really blows.