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Tattler: The Water Problem Is Worse Than You Might Know (Oct 6, 2009):
A lot of the information I use on this site comes from sources that would prefer not to be identified. And we here at The Tattler respect that. Why? Being known as a site that honors the privacy of its sources allows those who wish to share important information to do so without fear of repercussion or retaliation. Let's face it, whistle blowers keep a lot of organizations honest, while also making available to the public information they might otherwise never be permitted to see. And that to me is a very important consideration.
Today's post is an example of what we're talking about. It comes from someone in a position of authority who wants to share an unfortunate truth with the people of Sierra Madre. One that some might hope we never know about because of how it could adversely impact the pro-development agenda.
And that truth is we could very well be running out of water.
"... we are living on a knife's edge in terms of water supply and demand. Much of our water comes from wells that are drilled down to the water table ... A DIRTY LITTLE SECRET: All the towns here draw much of the water they use from our mountains. A little over 24 months ago (before the storage facilities were completed), the water table had been drawn down so low a number of the well pumps started to pump sand, destroying the impeller blades. We had to drill a deeper well. As our water table drops, all the cities dependent upon wells draw down this common water table. We are required by law to provide water to our population base ... When we lost that pump, we had to import water from Arcadia's pumps. The way I see it, if we cannot stabilize the population here (demand and supply), our dwindling water supply could mean water rationing. I hope I am wrong. Maybe we can get some alchemist to tell us how to turn air pollution into water ... A time may come when it will be prudent to limit the number of new water meter permits per year like the City of Bannister does."
When people talk about our area being built out, and how our resources have been stretched to the limit, it is water more than any other resource that is being referenced. And if we are barely getting by now, how are we going to make a go of it when large amounts of new housing are forced into the area by Sacramento's irresponsible redevelopment policies? After all, just because an area is filled with buildings doesn't necessarily mean it isn't a waterless desert.
On September 30, the New York Times ran an article called Alternative Energy Projects Stumble on a Need for Water. It now appears that even some of the solutions being implemented to improve the sustainability of our cities are being threatened by the lack of water:
In a rural corner of Nevada reeling from the recession, a bit of salvation seemed to arrive last year. A German developer, Solar Millennium, announced plans to build two large solar farms here that would harness the sun to generate electricity, creating hundreds of jobs ... But then things got messy. The company revealed that its preferred method of cooling the power plants would consume 1.3 billion gallons of water a year, about 20 percent of this desert valley's available water ... Here is an inconvenient truth about renewable energy: It can sometimes demand a huge amount of water. Many of the proposed solutions to the nation's energy problems, from certain types of solar farms to bio fuel refineries to cleaner coal plants, could consume billions of gallons of water every year.
The lesson here? The "Green Revolution" could very well make our lives better, and our cities more environmentally sustainable. But in order to meet those goals we will still need to limit growth. Because what is truly unsustainable here is the notion that we can graft an entirely new layer of development upon what is already in place and somehow still make it all work.
Those who would deny that just aren't being honest with us.
(Mod: There were some great comments posted to this article back in 2009. I thought I'd repost a few of them here.)
Sierra Madre October 6, 2009 at 7:16 AM
When the unsustainable is called sustainability, and a state that is losing population claims it needs to build huge amounts of new housing, all in a place where acres of new condos sit empty, then we are truly entering another dimension. I'd call it the Twilight Zone, but that has already been used.
Anonymous October 6, 2009 at 8:00 AM
Remember the Environmental Impact Report for the Downtown Specific Plan?
DEVELOPMENT ASSOCIATED WITH THE BUILDOUT OF THE PROPOSED SPECIFIC PLAN COULD CREATE DEMAND FOR WATER THAT EXCEEDS AVAILABLE SUPPLIES.
Level of Significance Before Analysis and Mitigation: Potentially Significant Impact."
Don't you love the language, potentially significant impact? The next time john Buchanan tries to mutter about Measure V creating bad consequences for SM's compliance (read "complete capitulation" to a run amok state government), somebody please tell him what his treasured DSP would have done to the little water we have left.
And while we're on it, let's bring up the impact of the One Crater Estates on our water. Swimming pools, fountains, extensive manicured grounds, maybe some kind of fire fighting reserves...Thanks Mr. Buchanan.
Anonymous October 6, 2009 at 8:03 AM
What if a cycle of colder weather starts, more snow in mountains in Calif. and more extended rainy seasons?
Would that alleviate the problem?
Some say there is little magnetic sun flash activity now on the sun, where there had been a lot. Some are predicting the earth will be in a mini cooling cycle.
Will this have anything to do with water here in Calif. if true?
Anonymous October 6, 2009 at 8:07 AM
I sure hope so 8:03. Then of course we'll have to try & manage it well, or the developers will think it's money falling from the skies for them....
Ed October 6, 2009 at 8:20 AM
A year or two of El Nino and condos will spring up like mushrooms.
Too many vacancies October 6, 2009 at 8:32 AM
I heard a report on NPR this early a.m. about the glut in the rental market. Young people are not moving out of their family homes because they can't afford to. The commentator said that statistics that look like new housing is being built are not as encouraging as they might seem, because apartments are remaining empty.
Anonymous October 6, 2009 at 9:09 AM
Developers *have* to keep building to stay alive regardless of the resources out there. In a year or so we'll see if this construction cycle slows more or stops due to the absence of buyers and renters. People can't afford to pay the rents necessary for payback on the original projections now, and the banks aren't lending, sales prices are dropping even at the high end. With folks leaving the state (no jobs), this cycle just continues to worsen. So the state deteriorates, the tax revenue will drop, and a new (higher) tax structure will have to be put into place. Unfortunately the entire state fiscal structure is predicated on real estate growth. Nobody thought about water except Sheila Kuehl. http://www.sheilakuehl.org/
I wonder if just everybody will pack up and go? It's a vicious cycle.
(Mod: So it would appear some people knew three years ago that we were going to run out of water. What was done about it? Outside of creating a link to the SGVMWD, nothing. There are a couple of questions to ask. The City is telling us that outside water is only a temporary situation. They are also on record as saying this temporary solution could be with us for as much as 5 years. Which isn't quite what I would call temporary. That would be more along the lines of "into the indefinite future." Whatever the case, our quality of life here just took a big hit. We are now forced to use inferior water, and that could very well be a permanent condition. So why should that mean we have to pay more?)