Thursday, June 24, 2010

Views Are Numerous When Water is Short

As water supplies become short, ideas for solutions get numerous.  
Most involve superficial changes.  
The answer, in Arizona at least, is fewer people to consume this resource.  
Below are a few comments from readers and news sources.

From a reader
Governor Brewer recently signed Senate Bill 1445; this bill allows Prescott, AZ. to pump water from the Big Chino aquifer at an unknown rate through a 36-inch pipe.  This action is in violation of Arizona Revised Statute 45-555(E) (transferring ground water from one aquifer to another) they plan (as I understand) to replenish the water with effluent water (outflow from a sewer or sewage system) from the city of Prescott. The effluent water will kill many species of marine animals and affect the health of people who eat crops irrigated from the Verde River or put farmers/ranchers that have used the Verde for 50 plus years out of business. The other option is, if Prescott does not replenish the river with effluent water, the river will dry up allowing all vegetation and wild life that the river supports to disappear.
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from the Arizona Daily Star

Increased usage of effluent called a path to water goals

Stepping up the use of treated sewage effluent is one path for the Tucson region to meet a 2025 deadline to stop over pumping its aquifer, a new state report says.

But Tucsonans need not drink treated sewage effluent for the region to meet that goal, a state official said Monday.

We can use effluent to at least temporarily reach "safe yield" by balancing the amount of water people pump from the ground with what is replenished, the Arizona Department of Water Resources report says.

Enough other uses exist for the effluent, such as putting it on golf courses and parks, and using it at power plants so the area doesn't have to resort to treating it for drinking - called "toilet to tap," said Laura Grignano, a water-resources specialist for the department.

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also from the Arizona Daily Star

HOW WE'RE DOING: The Tucson area is making progress toward safe yield. The region's overdraft - the amount of pumping exceeding groundwater recharge - was 86,000 acre-feet in 1985, rose to 156,000 by 1995, but dropped to 50,000 by 2006 after the city of Tucson got renewable Central Arizona Project water. An acre-foot will serve three to four families for a year.
THE OUTLOOK: It's not good without another water source or more conservation. The overdraft will be about 112,900 acre-feet by 2025. It was nearly 23,000 acre-feet in 2006. The forecasts stem from three possible scenarios for regional water demand based on factors including population growth, the continuation of agriculture and the future of the area's copper mines.
IF CAP RUNS SHORT. If the water project has shortages during eight of the next 15 years, the groundwater overdraft would rise by 4 percent to 27 percent.
WITH MORE EFFLUENT. If the region can boost effluent use by 59 percent, the overdraft drops - to zero - by 2016 before rising slightly over the next few years. By 2025, it would be very small. This scenario does not consider the possibility of CAP shortages or the potential of using 28,000 acre-feet of effluent set aside for the Tohono O'odham Nation.
WHAT'S NEXT: Mawhinney said he will form a group to study the idea of using more effluent along with other solutions
The solution may lie with sociologists, not hydrologists.  Our perception is that the desert will support a population similar to Michigan.

As history beyond my lifespan will indicate, it won't.