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> Western drought an emerging permanent?, It a water shortage dooming the west?
Gray Seal
post Oct 4 2018, 02:31 PM
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I have a daughter (and a son for a bit) living in Colorado so I learn a bit more about Colorado than the average midwesterner. We do have some Colorado experts here on ad.gif who are right there.

Blue Mesa reservoir is the largest body of water in Colorado. Blue Mesa reservoir is at 39% capacity. Toxic algae is causing some difficultly at the Gunnison beginning of the lake. Recreation boats may soon be prohibited as ramps will be total mud when water levels drop more.

Lake Powell is down stream. Lake Powell is down 94 feet from the year 2000. Lake Mead water levels are is way down.

Personally, I wish Blue Mesa would dry up and stay that way. Too much great landscape and farming was ended with the placement of the damn.

But what for the water? It has been 20 years of overall drought conditions. Oblivious, Arizona is still building subdivisions. What are people thinking? What are they expecting in the future when there is no more reservoirs to drain? What is sustainable? Who should have priority to own the water?

Ah. Who cares. It is just a wobble of temporary seasonal changes.

What predictions do you have for what the west is going to be like in a dozen years?
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Julian
post Oct 5 2018, 12:08 PM
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QUOTE(Gray Seal @ Oct 4 2018, 03:31 PM) *
I have a daughter (and a son for a bit) living in Colorado so I learn a bit more about Colorado than the average midwesterner. We do have some Colorado experts here on ad.gif who are right there.

Blue Mesa reservoir is the largest body of water in Colorado. Blue Mesa reservoir is at 39% capacity. Toxic algae is causing some difficultly at the Gunnison beginning of the lake. Recreation boats may soon be prohibited as ramps will be total mud when water levels drop more.

Lake Powell is down stream. Lake Powell is down 94 feet from the year 2000. Lake Mead water levels are is way down.

Personally, I wish Blue Mesa would dry up and stay that way. Too much great landscape and farming was ended with the placement of the damn.

But what for the water? It has been 20 years of overall drought conditions. Oblivious, Arizona is still building subdivisions. What are people thinking? What are they expecting in the future when there is no more reservoirs to drain? What is sustainable? Who should have priority to own the water?

Ah. Who cares. It is just a wobble of temporary seasonal changes.

What predictions do you have for what the west is going to be like in a dozen years?



Well, it depends.

If we stop expending time and attention on denying that climate change is A. warming at an unprecedented rate globally, with unpredictable local effects, and B. largely or entirely anthropogenic, and instead devote our time and attention to mitigating the effects already apparent AND limiting the emission of greenhouse gases (and/or removing them from the atmosphere somehow) to prevent future rises, there's a chance we could arrest or reverse the problem.

And, if we also stop the profligate and unnecessary use of water - for example, by not building fountain- or canal-based tourist attractions in the middle of a desert (Vegas); stop using water to create golf courses, amend building regulations to require water-efficiency measure such as use of grey-water in toilet cisterns, amend standards for domestic and industrial kitchen and laundry appliances, amend the tax and water supply billing systems to incentivise lower usage; etc. - we might lessen the pressure on water resources.

And, given that blooms of toxic algae are largely caused by run off of agrichemicals (mostly artificial fertilisers and livestock effluent) into water supplies, amend farming and water catchment regulation to incentivise treatment or minimise use.

Regulation. You know, the thing the current administration (not just Federal but those of many non-coastal, largely agricultural states) see as anti-market. None of this stuff is going to happen through consumer pressure on a time scale short enough, or one that is sustained for long enough, to actually achieve anything worthwhile.

It's the tragedy of the commons, and it's one of the main reasons that government exists. Markets do not work to protect commonwealths, which is why governments cannot step away from markets altogether and there simply HAS to be some degree of regulation.
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Gray Seal
post Oct 7 2018, 08:56 PM
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Blue Mesa Reservoir is in the high desert. The town of Gunnison is the home of Western State College which has the highest college athletic fields in the world (7700 feet). The agriculture business is cattle (cow/calf not feedlots) and hay. The area is known for its moose, elk, bear, antelope, and deer.

Blue Mesa is not a private project. It is a government project. It is totally regulated as is Lake Powell and Lake Mead.
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Hobbes
post Oct 8 2018, 06:08 PM
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QUOTE(Gray Seal @ Oct 4 2018, 08:31 AM) *
But what for the water? It has been 20 years of overall drought conditions. Oblivious, Arizona is still building subdivisions. What are people thinking? What are they expecting in the future when there is no more reservoirs to drain? What is sustainable? Who should have priority to own the water?

What predictions do you have for what the west is going to be like in a dozen years?


Well, as the saying goes, Arizona has a math problem. You have an increasing number of people living in a place that has no water. Meaning an increasing amount of water has to be brought in for them. The supply of water is basically constant...hence the math problem. There was a great article on this in Newsweek, I think, many years ago...with some great photos showing what the land around Phx looks like (desert) vs what Phx looks like (lush yards and pools everywhere). The kind of photos that made you wonder 'who thought that would be a good place for a big city?'

It's the same reason T. Boone Pickens was buying up LOTS of water rights around Texas. Anyone remember Quantum of Solace? Water is a TREMENOUSLY valuable resource when people don't have enough of it. And that is going to become a problem for much of the West.

Here around Dallas, we had similar problems with the lakes, for several years. Picture of waterfront being many hundreds of yards out from where the docks were. But then we got a bunch of rain a few years ago, and it went from that to flooding everywhere. So, it's a different problem than AZ's. We're not at the complete water deficit point yet.

It does get back to essentially hubris. We keep trying to live in places we really shouldn't, in ways that aren't really sustainable there. Which is often technologically feasible (ala The Martian), but leaves an ever smaller margin for error (also ala The Martian). And in that movie, he just needed to figure out where to get resources for a finite period of time. AZ isn't planning on some mass exodus at some point.

This post has been edited by Hobbes: Oct 8 2018, 06:12 PM
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Hobbes
post Oct 8 2018, 06:08 PM
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dupe


This post has been edited by Hobbes: Oct 8 2018, 06:08 PM
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AuthorMusician
post Oct 10 2018, 03:04 PM
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What predictions do you have for what the west is going to be like in a dozen years?

I don't see the trends changing much in 12 years.

It'll continue to be expensive living in or around the mountains due to population influx along the Front Range (Ft. Collins, Boulder, Denver, Colorado Springs, Pueblo, Trinidad) and near ski resorts, which is pretty much anywhere past the foothills.

While water is an issue and always has been, usage will continue shifting from agriculture to urban. It'll just be really, really expensive. I've lived in Colorado for about 28 years, and the drought has been worse than now. Also not as bad. The climate might change drastically due to global warming kicking up regular massive storms in the Pacific and Gulf of Mexico. Atlantic storm rains don't make it this far west, usually.

The Western Slope is dryer than the Front Range, also more agricultural. Somehow that area gets enough water to grow stuff (cattle feed and orchards), and that's probably due to the water laws. From what I've learned reading Ed Quillen (Denver Post journalist, now deceased), it's quite a rat's nest. In the end though, somebody somewhere owns every drop of Colorado water, and it's probably not you. Doesn't matter if the water is on your property either.

Denver even had laws banning garden rain barrels. That might have changed.

I'm wondering how high-tech greenhouses multiple stories tall with closed-system water will impact Western agriculture. Makes a lot of sense to me except for cattle feed. Hay that grows in the river valleys without irrigation works fine, as rainfall isn't nearly as critical. The stuff that does require irrigation might go away as ranchers realize the real money is in the urban areas and lease out their water rights.

Anyway, the Front Range will continue to grow into the one big urban strip that people talked about in the 1980s. The Western Slope will pretty much remain the same population-wise due to not being attractive to modern industries and youthful smart labor. I frankly don't care enough about Arizona to have an opinion. California should look into desalination for its water needs, as Colorado water could dry up for them -- i.e., be kept here for our own uses. Farther north there's enough Pacific rainfall and a whole lot less agriculture. Nevada and Utah will probably be screwed unless new water tech enables further growth. I'm not aware of water problems in New Mexico, so no comment. Same goes for the rest of the Western states.

One last dig at Arizona: It's not much of a state if its main claim to fame is a giant hole in the ground. Boo-Yah!

No comment on Texas either, as I don't consider it to be a Western state but a southern Midwestern one. It joined the Confederacy and is straight down from Kansas/Oklahoma, so my categorization is both political and geographical.
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Gray Seal
post Oct 10 2018, 04:53 PM
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There is pressure from Texans buying second homes in Colorado. I guess the chance for a nice summer place with a low property tax is deemed a good investment. The western slopes towns have large population swings with the seasons due to the Texas effect. It think this is affecting the front range, too.

I think the water will run out before 12 years. There will be an exodus from the southwest.

I would hope the idea of Blue Mesa Reservoir will be exposed as not such a good idea. There are advantages of large buffers of held water but the disadvantages should not be ignored.

My business idea is to build a pipeline from Lake Alton (Mississippi River) to Arizona. Many pipelines are built for petroleum. I expect pumpingg water can be even more profitable.
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AuthorMusician
post Oct 10 2018, 11:46 PM
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QUOTE(Gray Seal @ Oct 10 2018, 12:53 PM) *
There is pressure from Texans buying second homes in Colorado. I guess the chance for a nice summer place with a low property tax is deemed a good investment. The western slopes towns have large population swings with the seasons due to the Texas effect. It think this is affecting the front range, too.

The Texans I've known who have tried the summer home thing have given up after a few seasons. Seems that unoccupied houses still cost money to heat and critters like mice and raccoons sometimes invade. It doesn't look like Texans have much of an impact, but I'm willing to look at sources that document this. Suggestions?

There are some migrations I'm aware of, but from California and the East Coast, and those movements were due to high tech companies setting up shop along the Front Range. The East Coasters came here with MCI. Most have returned home where the seafood and pizzas are a lot better.

Then there's the boom and bust of fossil fuel exploration and extraction. I suppose that brings in Texans, but maybe not so many as other industries. I don't know how that works out.

Piping in water from the Missouri and Mississippi valleys might be workable down the road, but if heavier rain/snow falls happen, it might not be needed. Piping water has certain advantages over piping crude -- leaks don't have much environmental impact, and communities to the east could tap into the pipelines for their needs -- and that would be a big sales argument for allowing the pipelines to go through.

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Gray Seal
post Oct 11 2018, 02:41 PM
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The Texas affect can be made from observation. One easy way is to look at license plates. Another way is seeing the affects of more people in the summer. If you talk to people they will tell you where they are from.

As my daughter lives on the western range, she knows who lives in the houses in town. People display the Texas state flag, too.
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Mrs. Pigpen
post Oct 11 2018, 07:39 PM
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From what I've observed (Conifer, CO), GS is right about Texans moving here. There are some Californians, too.
The influx of people and money has raised the home values a LOT.
It's never good to buy when it's a seller's market...and right now the sellers are getting over their asking prices within 24 hours.
At least, in this area. Definitely worse nearer to Denver but I don't know about Denver itself.

Per drought....well, our mountain here has a lot of snow and rainfall (knock on wood) and it's supposed to be a harsh winter with a lot of snow.
I'm hoping that's true because it helps keep the fires down in summer. We're planning on cutting down a lot of pines on our property that are near the house (for fire mitigation purposes). That will allow more aspens to sprout up. They're good trees for fire control (a cluster of trees is one organism connected at the roots, they contain a lot of water when alive).

I agree with Hobbes on the desert areas...too many people, not enough water.
Sure, a business could run a pipeline from far away but that's a very expensive proposition.
They did something similar in the Florida keys (a far more water rich environment) long ago...but the only way to incentivize private industry enough profit to build that pipeline was to arrange a deal with the state. Laws against cisterns to collect rainwater went into effect, and the tax is 80 dollars a month (might've gone up) which goes to the water company, without even using a drop....after that, water is expensive. We had a leak that we didn't know about in an underground pipe. It was a constant trickle. If memory serves, it cost us 2000+ dollars and we discovered it before the month was over and fixed it right away. Now, a pipe from the Mississippi river to the desert sounds even more expensive than that.

Edited to add: The above (regarding the history of the pipeline) was what I'd been told, but I'd never read up on it. I guess the Navy was heavily involved in the building as well, and later sold it. Here is some history on the FLorida Keys Aqueduct Authority

This post has been edited by Mrs. Pigpen: Oct 11 2018, 08:13 PM
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AuthorMusician
post Oct 12 2018, 12:29 AM
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QUOTE(Gray Seal @ Oct 11 2018, 10:41 AM) *
The Texas affect can be made from observation. One easy way is to look at license plates. Another way is seeing the affects of more people in the summer. If you talk to people they will tell you where they are from.

As my daughter lives on the western range, she knows who lives in the houses in town. People display the Texas state flag, too.

I see license plates from Kansas more often than Texas, but this is near Ute Pass above Colorado Springs. I also never see a Texas flag flown anywhere, but I am just one person with the inherent tunnel vision we all have.

I've seen some Confederate battle flags flown. I think: Colorado as a territory during the Civil War sided with the USA and there was even a battle fought here. Not a very big one, but that makes one more than my home state of Minnesota.

Ergo, I am keeping that in mind with everyone else's subjective observations used to support sweeping generalizations.

Next year we will probably move to Grand Junction, which is at the foot of the Western Slope. The altitude is lower, which means the air has a higher oxygen content. It becomes important as the old bodies start crapping out in so many interesting and unusual ways (nod to Little House of Horrors musical).

There's also a lot less forest, so wildfire isn't much of a concern. Downside is hotter summers and generally a dryer climate, but I don't think it gets as bad as Pueblo. The thicker air reduces the brutality of direct sunlight at the ~8,000 foot altitude in which we now live. Grand Junction is about 4,500 feet above sea level.

While it is smart to clear away brush and trees around the shack, the idea is to make the property more defensible. Wildfires can get big enough that structures burst into flame from the ambient air temperature, so the smartest thing to do is get out and put yer tush far away. Keep a bug-out bag ready so you can throw that into the jalopy without much thought.

Something that hardly ever works is to stay with the house and spray it with garden hoses. It's a good way to get trapped in an inferno worse than any hell imaginable. On the upside, you'll probably die from lack of oxygen before the flames get to yah. Whoopee woo.

Anyway, Grand Junction has the Colorado and Gunnison rivers for water supplies, so maybe it's cheaper there on that issue. Rents are about half what they get around here as well, so a move there will free up quite a bit of income.

I hear there are a lot of crazy people living there. I think the locals make up stories to keep Texans away (just kidding). Then there are the uranium mine dump stories. Eh, around Boulder it was radon, Denver it was Rocky Flats plutonium, and here people got all bent out of shape over pine beetles. Yep, even in a ponderosa pine forest, which has natural defenses consisting of heavy sap and head knockers of various species: flickers, hairy-headed woodpeckers, pygmy nuthatches, even broad-tailed hummingbirds can get into the act. They usually chow down on spiders, but I bet the arrogant little turds wouldn't turn their beaks away from a fat pine beetle grub.

The beetles go after lodgepole pine, so that would be a good place to start with the cutting. Blue spruce and fir seem immune from what I've seen -- but take that with a good measure of salt. I've spent most of my time around ponderosa pines, pinion pines, and junipers.
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Hobbes
post Oct 12 2018, 04:24 PM
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QUOTE(AuthorMusician @ Oct 11 2018, 06:29 PM) *
Next year we will probably move to Grand Junction, which is at the foot of the Western Slope. The altitude is lower, which means the air has a higher oxygen content. It becomes important as the old bodies start crapping out in so many interesting and unusual ways (nod to Little House of Horrors musical).


Nice. I could possibly do the same, although until I retire, I need better access to a major airport.



QUOTE
I hear there are a lot of crazy people living there. I think the locals make up stories to keep Texans away (just kidding).


I actually think that is completely true. There were some there that some might think of as 'crazies', but really more like hippies. I think you'd really like it there, AM.

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AuthorMusician
post Oct 12 2018, 07:51 PM
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QUOTE(Hobbes @ Oct 12 2018, 12:24 PM) *
QUOTE(AuthorMusician @ Oct 11 2018, 06:29 PM) *
Next year we will probably move to Grand Junction, which is at the foot of the Western Slope. The altitude is lower, which means the air has a higher oxygen content. It becomes important as the old bodies start crapping out in so many interesting and unusual ways (nod to Little House of Horrors musical).


Nice. I could possibly do the same, although until I retire, I need better access to a major airport.



QUOTE
I hear there are a lot of crazy people living there. I think the locals make up stories to keep Texans away (just kidding).


I actually think that is completely true. There were some there that some might think of as 'crazies', but really more like hippies. I think you'd really like it there, AM.


Me too, looking forward to once again living in a river town.

There is an airport in GJ, but I doubt it's very big. Haven't seen it yet. Overall though, the place strikes me as a working-class city far enough away from Aspen/Vail to still have a reasonable cost of living. It's also a college town, which I generally like. I'm not sure why, better energy? Eclectic book stores? Lots of little venues for guitar gigs? Decent bus service? I really don't know. It just is.

GJ seems to get its water from the Grand Mesa area, notable for its fishing lakes stocked with trout of various species. I'm quite excited to explore this part of Colorado if for nothing more than the scenery. However, I do plan to get my line wet at some point.
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Hobbes
post Oct 12 2018, 09:33 PM
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QUOTE(AuthorMusician @ Oct 12 2018, 01:51 PM) *
There is an airport in GJ, but I doubt it's very big. Haven't seen it yet. Overall though, the place strikes me as a working-class city far enough away from Aspen/Vail to still have a reasonable cost of living. It's also a college town, which I generally like. I'm not sure why, better energy? Eclectic book stores? Lots of little venues for guitar gigs? Decent bus service? I really don't know. It just is.


Yep, have flown in there a couple times now. There is also one a bit farther south. Can get anywhere from there, but wouldn't say either qualifies as 'major', which is 'officially' listed as a job rqmt, nor would it be anywhere near any of our offices. I'm sure Denver would be the closest, and we're supposed to be within 90 min (although I almost never go to my home office"

But I know people who live in Steamboat, and that's hardly near Denver either. So maybe if you don't say anything, no one bothers to say anything back. whistling.gif)
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