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Western US States Using Up Ground Water At an Alarming Rate

Unknown Lamer posted about 2 months ago | from the captain-planet-warned-you dept.

Earth 377

sciencehabit (1205606) writes A new study shows that ground water in the Colorado basin is being depleted six times faster than surface water. The groundwater losses, which take thousands of years to be recharged naturally, point to the unsustainability of exploding population centers and water-intensive agriculture in the basin, which includes most of Arizona and parts of Colorado, California, Nevada, Utah, New Mexico, and Wyoming. Because ground water feeds many of the streams and rivers in the area, more of them will run dry.

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ALL RIGHT! (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47526149)

Soon the Department of Water and Power will control all the water and have all the power.

Re:ALL RIGHT! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47526425)

He who controls the water, controls the universe!

Re:ALL RIGHT! (3, Interesting)

WillAffleckUW (858324) | about 2 months ago | (#47526515)

One of the fun things about Seattle is we actually own the entire watershed here. All of it. So the suburbs basically have no water rights.

They either buy it from us at a premium to what our citizens (who own it) pay or they buy it from someone else (at a higher premium since it has to be trucked in).

Capiche?

Re:ALL RIGHT! (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about 2 months ago | (#47526435)

But where will the US get its supply of mutant kangaroos?

Re:ALL RIGHT! (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47526577)

Better dig up your roller skates and stat! The E-Protectorate comes after the orb.

Re:ALL RIGHT! (1)

alen (225700) | about 2 months ago | (#47526725)

most property deeds out there already exclude water and mineral rights. this has been a periodic problem going back hundreds of years

Peak Water (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47526167)

And you thought the wars and environmental harm over oil was bad, we ain't seen nothing yet.

Re:Peak Water (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47526241)

Water water everywhere and not a drop for me.

Re: Peak Water (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47526571)

Bye food.

Re:Peak Water (4, Interesting)

alen (225700) | about 2 months ago | (#47526395)

US military does periodic defense reviews and the ones i saw back in the late 90's predicted wars over water shortages

Re:Peak Water (1)

Wootery (1087023) | about 2 months ago | (#47526615)

Well, predicted as in considered the possibility of, right?

Re:Peak Water (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47526721)

Well, predicted as in considered the possibility of, right?

No. Predicted as in we already see the wars being fought over the economic conditions arising from a lack of it elsewhere.

Believe it or not, you can live without Internet, oil, air conditioning or even meat. But if drinking the local well water is gone, or "just" poisons you, you can't survive. You'll kill not for gold or ideology, but for water to drink, or to prevent your kids/wife/etc from dying of thirst. The ironic bit is we will poison the local well water via fracking for gas, so we can have "cheap" oil to fight for farther distant oil fields.

Re:Peak Water (2)

alen (225700) | about 2 months ago | (#47526735)

yep

but then every war has been about resources and religion or anything like that

Re:Peak Water (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47526673)

It's their job (and porkloin) to predict war over everything, that way they can tell Congress they need big $$$ to be prepared for every contingency, real and imagined.

Re:Peak Water (1)

theshowmecanuck (703852) | about 2 months ago | (#47526739)

Civil wars?

Well let them drink Coca-cola (1)

presidenteloco (659168) | about 2 months ago | (#47526605)

Where is that person that wanted to buy the world a coke when you need them?

But seriously, if polar bears are happy drinking coca-cola to cool off in the global warming, it should be good enough for the rest of us.

Colorado has California over a barrel (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47526177)

The Water Wars have only just begun.

Re:Colorado has California over a barrel (4, Insightful)

Grey Geezer (2699315) | about 2 months ago | (#47526357)

There is a proposal to built a freshwater pipeline from Lake Superior. I'd prefer to see growth limited to sustainable levels before they start pumping water out of the Great Lakes...but moneyed interests will probably get their way...they usually do.

Re:Colorado has California over a barrel (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47526445)

moneyed interest? aka people that your tax dollars subsidize to fornicate and reproduce at unsustainable rates while also allowing an influx of people from outside the country? oh yea. 'moneyed interest'

Re:Colorado has California over a barrel (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47526763)

moneyed interest? aka people that your tax dollars subsidize to fornicate and reproduce at unsustainable rates while also allowing an influx of people from outside the country? oh yea. 'moneyed interest'

Funny, I thought it referred to corporations buying public water at pennies on the dollar to sell for nickels to another corporation.

I say, tax the water and gas and KWh at a 50%+ rate, and use those funds to build sustainable resources. Thermal solar powered water desalination plants, PV car chargers, etc. Don't run our natural resource principal down to zero in the name of corporate profits.

80% of fresh water in the US is used by industry/agiculture (1 gallon per almond was the recent figure). That said if you have a lawn and your shower/bath water doesn't provide the primary water to the landscaping, you are part of the problem too.

Re:Colorado has California over a barrel (4, Insightful)

xfizik (3491039) | about 2 months ago | (#47526459)

Pumping out of the Great Lakes would not make Canada happy.

Re:Colorado has California over a barrel (0)

pkinetics (549289) | about 2 months ago | (#47526737)

No problem. Just give them another NHL hockey team. They'll be too distracted to notice the water disappearing.

Re:Colorado has California over a barrel (3, Informative)

theshowmecanuck (703852) | about 2 months ago | (#47526755)

There is a treaty with respect to water in the Great Lakes. Not sure how that would affect things.

Re:Colorado has California over a barrel (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47526517)

The water in the great lakes are already starting to drop. The great lakes consortium states would do just about everything to stop other states from coming in and taking their water. It would be the equivalent of Wisconsin trying to forcibly move all the wealth of silicon valley to green bay.

Re: Colorado has California over a barrel (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47526597)

Dropping?
Maybe according to the IJC projections.
But not reality-
NYT June 28th:
Lakes Michigan, Huron and Superior are at least a foot higher than they were a year ago, and are expected to rise three more inches over the next month. Lake Ontario and Lake Erie are seven to nine inches higher than a year ago.
http://mobile.nytimes.com/2014/06/29/us/creeping-up-on-unsuspecting-shores-the-great-lakes-in-a-welcome-turnaround.html?_r=0&referrer=

Re:Colorado has California over a barrel (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47526599)

Do you really think that they care about what happens out here in flyover country? They'll steal our water one way or another. Eventually, nobody in America will be even be able to own a rain barrel without a permit because some tycoon out west bought the rights to the water. You know they won't conserve a drop of it, either.

As far as I'm concerned they can ask us for our water when they've tamed their own consumption, but that was never our decision to make. We're just rednecks out here, what do we know?

Re:Colorado has California over a barrel (1)

ahaweb (762825) | about 2 months ago | (#47526675)

Why not pump from rivers instead of lakes?

Silicon Valley will just make an app for that. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47526375)

It's no biggie. It's just water. Silicon Valley will produce some mobile apps and software-as-a-service for dealing with it. The new flat designs we're seeing out of Microsoft, Apple and Google are going to render this whole water issue irrelevant. These designs look really great, and they're really usable, too. I know some UI designers out there, and they're as hip as ever. Their glasses don't have lenses, they were fedora hats and they like to hold up fake paper moustaches on sticks under their noses. It's cool, they're cool, and I know their apps will take care of this problem.

Streams will run dry (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47526183)

Because ground water feeds many of the streams and rivers in the area, more of them will run dry.

Good. Because if the ground water is such a precious resource, we sure as shit don't need to be hemorrhaging it into streams and rivers.

Re:Streams will run dry (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47526299)

The Santa Cruz river thru Tucson has been dry for so long, the local joke is the first day that the temp hits 100F, "breaking news, the ice has melted on the Santa Cruz"

In the 1960's there were pictures of concrete pads on wells that were three to five feet off the ground. Drive I-10 near Pich-a-co Peak (Picacho Peak) and there is a ten foot drop in the highway from ground water subsidence.

Not new news.....

Re:Streams will run dry (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47526417)

http://www.azheritagewaters.nau.edu/loc_cienega.html

Re:Streams will run dry (1)

Immerman (2627577) | about 2 months ago | (#47526481)

Right, because human consumption is the only thing that matters - once we wipe out all other life on the planet we'll be free to eat each other forever!

Re:Streams will run dry (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47526573)

Right, because human consumption is the only thing that matters - once we wipe out all other life on the planet we'll be free to eat each other forever!

Oddly obligatory XKCD. [xkcd.com] To rebut your snark, with a minimal breeding pool and sufficient preservation, we could live on eating each other for millions of years. Might as well be forever with those time frames.

Re:Streams will run dry (1)

pkinetics (549289) | about 2 months ago | (#47526759)

I don't want to live in a world without bacon...

Re:Streams will run dry (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47526559)

What the fuck. Are you just being funny or are you just that fucking retarded? Rivers and streams are the sign of a healthy ecosystem.

Should the United States accept more foreigners? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47526185)

I often hear it said that the United States needs to accept more foreigners from Central and South America, especially in the southwestern states.

But how can that claim be reconciled with facts like these? How can the United States be expected to provide for these foreigners, if there aren't even enough basic resources for the actual Americans and foreigners who are already living in the area?

Re:Should the United States accept more foreigners (1)

ahaweb (762825) | about 2 months ago | (#47526233)

The U.S. exports its water now, in the form of food. So your concern-trolling is disproportionate to reality.

Re:Should the United States accept more foreigners (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47526239)

You assume that the reason we should accept more foreigners is for them.
The reason we should accept more foreigner is that if we get enough of them we will run out of resources which will solve the obesity issue, making America healthier.

Re:Should the United States accept more foreigners (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47526319)

Obesity isn't caused by having "too many resources". It's exactly the opposite. Obesity is endemic within the poorest of society, while it is rare within those who are well-off.

Americans in general have gotten fatter because Americans in general has gotten remarkably poorer, especially since the 1980s and Reagan's disastrous economic policies. A larger proportion of the American population living in poverty or near-poverty has resulted in a larger proportion of Americans being obese.

Take a city like New York City. It's rare to see fat people in Manhattan and Astoria, where the average income is much higher than the local and national averages. Yet as you move into the poor or very-poor areas like Harlem, The Bronx, and parts of Brooklyn, it is very common to see overweight people. And this plays out on the national stage, where the obesity rates in the more prosperous northeastern states are much lower than the rates we see in the Deep South and other poverty-stricken areas of the nation.

It's exactly the same problem that is happening in the UK, too, where wealth inequality has shot through the roof thanks to Thatcher and her disastrous economic policies. More Britons are fatter than ever thanks to being poorer than ever.

Bringing in more illegal aliens into the US, most of whom have absolutely nothing to their name (less than even the most impoverished living in Alabama and Arkansas), won't do anything to decrease the obesity rate. In fact, it will send it higher than it already is.

Re:Should the United States accept more foreigners (1)

trout007 (975317) | about 2 months ago | (#47526355)

Poverty doesn't cause obesity. There is a correlation in the modern world because food is cheap and the ability to delay gratification leads to poverty and obesity.

Re:Should the United States accept more foreigners (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47526453)

Food is not cheap. Taking inflation into account, food prices are at an all-time high [wikipedia.org] on a global basis. They're even higher than they were during World War II, when rationing was in place.

The price of food increasing far faster than wages has in fact resulted in more poverty, which has in fact resulted in more obesity is many nations around the world.

Re:Should the United States accept more foreigners (1, Interesting)

sumdumass (711423) | about 2 months ago | (#47526587)

Poverty does not cause obesity. It causes unhealthy diets which can cause obesity. Stay home and eat a 7 dollar lean steak or a 12 dollar healthy omega3 rich fish fillet with about 4 dollars in trimmings or get filled up with a 6 dollar super sized big mac meal and not have to fix the crap. Fill up between meals by snacking on 6 dollar nuts or have a 3 for a dollar twinky. These are choices not limited to the poor. But the better off have a more easy time not making them.

There are even some people who think the problem with obesity is solely contained within our switch from real sugar to high fructose corn syrup in the 1970s. They make convincing arguments if the arguments are factual. I have never had the time to bother checking them. A lot of obese people get thin also when they go gluten free. I think it has a lot to do with food containing gluten also having HFCS in them but that's just a guess.

I also wouldn't say Reagan or Thatcher's economic policies were disastrous. In the US, Carter's policies likely were worse. They certainly threw a lot more people into poverty than when Reagan was president. But I'm sure you will spout some half cocked theories that don't line up with reality so I'm not bothering with it. I do agree that illegals will increase the obesity rates, but not because of poverty- because they will make the same poor food choices and be subjected to the mass marketing that many Americans already are.

Re: Should the United States accept more foreigner (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47526681)

...or eat $1 beans and rice, and don't get fat

We only accept them if they're not from Cuba (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47526411)

Kids from Cuba get sent home at gunpoint.

Re: Should the United States accept more foreigner (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47526665)

You ask it like you don't know we 'll be taking yours.
You're funny.

Re:Should the United States accept more foreigners (1)

theshowmecanuck (703852) | about 2 months ago | (#47526765)

That's what Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse said.

Yeah, so? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47526193)

There's ice at the south pole of the Moon and we can 3D print more water cuz 3D printing. This is obvious because computers got better.

getting worse (3, Funny)

jbmartin6 (1232050) | about 2 months ago | (#47526205)

And now all the pot farming is going to make it even worse.

Re:getting worse (1)

msauve (701917) | about 2 months ago | (#47526259)

Beer FTW! Then you're only renting the water.

Re:getting worse (1)

PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) | about 2 months ago | (#47526387)

Yeah, but if you smoke the pot, you won't worry about the water any more . . . except for your bong.

Better late than never, Slashdot (2)

Gothmolly (148874) | about 2 months ago | (#47526209)

People have been talking about this ever since (and likely before) T Boone Pickens stole the water in western TX.

Re:Better late than never, Slashdot (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47526415)

Nonsense! This is nothing more than a fake liberal crisis by King Obama! Its a conspiracy to turn the country into a commie state and kill capitalism!

The solution is obviously to give corporations the power to monetize water! Only by deregulating water and allowing the free market to decide things will things be solved!

Re:Better late than never, Slashdot (1)

swillden (191260) | about 2 months ago | (#47526541)

People have been talking about this ever since (and likely before) T Boone Pickens stole the water in western TX.

Old rancher's saying: "Men fight over land, but they kill for water."

Re:Better late than never, Slashdot (1)

Bodhammer (559311) | about 2 months ago | (#47526639)

“A man's flesh is his own; the water belongs to the tribe.” Frank Herbert, Dune

Not So Top Secret Government Installations (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47526213)

Go check the fusion reactors powering the Bunker Complex below the Denver International Airport. Also check the coast off of central California where large amounts of possibly nuclear waste water has recently been dumped from within the tunnel complex linking Colorado.to the east and west US.

Re:Not So Top Secret Government Installations (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47526235)

ROTFLMAO!

THanks :)

I'm alarmed! (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47526221)

That headline alarmed me!

Re:I'm alarmed! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47526363)

Oh baby, your alarm triggers me so good.

Just more alarmism from waterists (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47526251)

Waterist like to pretend water is crucial for life and plant development. These are all fabrications from hydrologists who wish to keep their grant money.

Re:Just more alarmism from waterists (1)

ohieaux (2860669) | about 2 months ago | (#47526501)

Perhaps we should switch to Branwndo

Investment strategy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47526267)

Long water of course; but also deoderants, composting toilets, cacti and succulents, artificial grass, etc.

Short fountains, Las Vegas real estate, swimming pools, hoses, water themed recreation parks, etc...

There's a lot of room to conserve in the US, but it's not the American way. Water will get bought up by private companies, who will charge ridiculous rates. People will then move to where it's cheaper. Problem solved, but not without a lot of pain. I've already seen the privatization thing happen very close to me. It's causing a lot of pain. Our water company is a "mutual" with a charter that forbids conversion to such a stock company; but you can't put absolute faith in something like that.

Cancerous tumor. (4, Interesting)

Camel Pilot (78781) | about 2 months ago | (#47526273)

Some time ago I remember reading about a proposal to building an aquaduct from the Snake River in Idaho to Southern California. It reminded me of the metaphor that when a cancerous tumor grows unchecked it will commadeer local blood vessels for its own use.

Re:Cancerous tumor. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47526321)

How dare those cancer cells try to live. It's like they're alive or something.

Re:Cancerous tumor. (4, Funny)

ShaunC (203807) | about 2 months ago | (#47526643)

Your post contains words that are known to the State of California to cause cancer and birth defects or other reproductive harm.

DEsalination plants should be a priority (2)

geekoid (135745) | about 2 months ago | (#47526277)

for every state along the cost.

Re:DEsalination plants should be a priority (1)

msauve (701917) | about 2 months ago | (#47526331)

"the cost."

Freudian slip?

Why I'm on a well in a sustainable aquifer. (3, Interesting)

digsbo (1292334) | about 2 months ago | (#47526279)

One of the things I was looking for in a house was to be able to supply my own well water. I've got the acreage, and the area is fully developed. All 2 acre lots. Never had a problem with the water table, never should. And I won't need to deal with government restrictions over municipal supplies.

Re:Why I'm on a well in a sustainable aquifer. (5, Insightful)

TheReaperD (937405) | about 2 months ago | (#47526343)

You say that now but, when that well runs dry, you'll be screaming "why didn't the government do something about this!"

Re:Why I'm on a well in a sustainable aquifer. (5, Informative)

nblender (741424) | about 2 months ago | (#47526373)

Until your well collapses one day and you need to get approval to drill a new one and that approval is not forth-coming because there's now a water-coop that you need to join instead; paying them lots of money to run a pipe to your house and charging you per cubic meter...

Seen it happen; it's coming.

My well collapsed and fortunately a permit to drill a new one was a rubber stamp and I have a nice clean (albeit very hard) 10gpm well. Hopefully this well will last until I'm too old to care...

Re:Why I'm on a well in a sustainable aquifer. (1)

digsbo (1292334) | about 2 months ago | (#47526547)

The entire area is fully developed for miles around and hasn't seen aquifer degradation; none of the wells have run dry in the 50+ years they've been operating. We have neighbors who have already had backup wells dug. We're probably in as good a shape as anybody outside a place like Montana could be.

Re:Why I'm on a well in a sustainable aquifer. (2)

Charliemopps (1157495) | about 2 months ago | (#47526579)

Until your well collapses one day and you need to get approval to drill a new one and that approval is not forth-coming because there's now a water-coop that you need to join instead; paying them lots of money to run a pipe to your house and charging you per cubic meter...

Seen it happen; it's coming.

My well collapsed and fortunately a permit to drill a new one was a rubber stamp and I have a nice clean (albeit very hard) 10gpm well. Hopefully this well will last until I'm too old to care...

I've never gotten a permit to drill a well.
There are some things the government can't regulate because they're impossible to regulate.
Granted, I'm lucky that I live in an area where I know people that will borrow me the equipment to do such things. If you're living in the middle of town the rig might become obvious...

And you think it's sustainable why? (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47526379)

All of those 2 acre lots are a tiny spot on the water table map that they lie on. Everyone else is sucking up your water and you don't even know it.

Re:And you think it's sustainable why? (1)

amicusNYCL (1538833) | about 2 months ago | (#47526623)

I drink your milkshake!

Re:Why I'm on a well in a sustainable aquifer. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47526575)

One of the many advantages of living next to Lake Superior. No worries about water shortage. Now water pollution, that could be a problem, but there will be plenty of toxic water to drink and water your veggies with!

Pot farmers. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47526295)

Colorado and California are legal growing states. They gotta feed those plants to make all that medicine.

Re:Pot farmers. (1)

istartedi (132515) | about 2 months ago | (#47526349)

The drug war is bad enough, but when the DEA waits until just before harvest to destroy fields they know about... really gripes my cookies. They let it consume all that water, *then* they destroy it. And of course they'll destroy small backyard grows that don't even push people into the next water usage tier. When Joe Sixplant's grow is pushed over, where does he buy weed? From big growers illegally diverting.

It's the oil boom (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47526305)

Drilling and fracking take huge amounts of water. The oil well density in this part of the country is truly unbelievable and growing rapidly. You want your domestic oil production, you pay in water (and quality of life). Yes, the population and agriculture are part of the problem, but the petroleum industry is a huge part of this. Why wasn't this called out ?

Get the popcorn (1)

Scottingham (2036128) | about 2 months ago | (#47526311)

I'm personally kicking back and waiting to see what the end game of this all is.

Is a pipepline going to be created? Massive desal plants powered by...who knows what? Mass exodus? Ghost towns? Agriculture prices skyrocketing leading to global food riots?

Interesting times indeed.

Re:Get the popcorn (1)

budgenator (254554) | about 2 months ago | (#47526603)

The problem with using desal plants supplying the Great Basin Desert [wikipedia.org] would be that the process doesn't eliminate the sodium in the water, it only reduces it to potable levels; sodium builds up in the soil and eventually becomes toxic to the plants. How long this takes depend on how much salt is left in the irrigation water and how much rain actually falls to wash out the excess salt.

Re:Get the popcorn (2)

fizzer06 (1500649) | about 2 months ago | (#47526613)

From this article: http://www.nytimes.com/1982/09/26/us/houston-s-great-thirst-is-sucking-city-down-into-the-ground.html/ [nytimes.com] ,

Subsidence, as geologists call the phenomenon, is just one of the unanticipated consequences of rapid growth that have come to plague Houstonians. The city's roads, services, and even the very land beneath it, have been unable to sustain it all.

and: Moreover, downtown Houston is sinking fast, too. A recent computer simulation of the process suggested that it could sink 14 feet more by the year 2020 if nothing but ground water was used to satisfy future demand.

Nature will find a way (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47526339)

One of the usual means will address the problem; war, famine, plague, pestilence. Too many humans, not enough water.

we are experiencing something similar (4, Informative)

Espectr0 (577637) | about 2 months ago | (#47526365)

in northwestern Venezuela we are having the biggest drought in 60 years. We only have 57 days left of water, and that's including with limited use (1 and a half days of water per week!)

Our water comes by the way of reservoirs, and we depend heavily on rain. Can't remember the last time it rained and we are getting extremely worried

Re:we are experiencing something similar (3, Funny)

rahvin112 (446269) | about 2 months ago | (#47526567)

Sounds like it's time to sacrifice some virgins to the rain god. There are plenty on slashdot if you are recruiting.

Re:we are experiencing something similar (2)

ShaunC (203807) | about 2 months ago | (#47526719)

Serious question: why isn't Venezuela trading tankers of oil for tankers of fresh water? Doesn't have to be 1:1 of course. Surely there are nations that can provide excess water in return for cheap oil, at least for the time being.

Oh really? (-1, Flamebait)

exabrial (818005) | about 2 months ago | (#47526401)

So what alarmist hyper-environmentalist news stories are we to believe? Last time I checked, we had environmentalists screaming that fracking thousands of feet down leaks chemicals (sand, light hydrocarbons) through thousands of feet of permeable geological layers. If these layers are so permeable and the alarmists are telling the trough, how come it takes `thousands` of years to recharge the aquifers?

Re:Oh really? (3, Insightful)

WillAffleckUW (858324) | about 2 months ago | (#47526505)

So what alarmist hyper-environmentalist news stories are we to believe? Last time I checked, we had environmentalists screaming that fracking thousands of feet down leaks chemicals (sand, light hydrocarbons) through thousands of feet of permeable geological layers. If these layers are so permeable and the alarmists are telling the trough, how come it takes `thousands` of years to recharge the aquifers?

The act of fracking, or fracturing, creates many tiny cracks.

Here's a thought experiment: Stick your head under a bucket of tightly packed soil (mostly clay) in a bottomless bucket and fill it up.

Now try the same thing after you use a spade on the soil in the bucket for a few minutes.

Get the picture?

Re:Oh really? (1)

Charliemopps (1157495) | about 2 months ago | (#47526593)

Because they don't have a giant fucking hole drilled strait through the middle of them?
The waters at 1 PSI and the Frack well is at 15,000 PSI.
The Fracking solution is designed to erode those very geologic structures...
Should I go on? or are you getting the idea?

We need mutant kangaroos and Lori Petty now! (1)

OzPeter (195038) | about 2 months ago | (#47526413)

Re:We need mutant kangaroos and Lori Petty now! (1)

jsepeta (412566) | about 2 months ago | (#47526581)

i'll settle for lori petty by her pretty self

Complicated background (1)

smellsofbikes (890263) | about 2 months ago | (#47526447)

When I took a geography class focussing on the western US, one of the things the teacher mentioned (which I haven't verified independently, but it was his job) was that the Colorado River water rights were allocated based on how much the Colorado River was running in roughly 1920, which happened to be an unusually high flow rate period, so ever since then there hasn't been enough water to satisfy everyone. (Water rights are allocated by time priority: first person who used it gets to take the entire amount that person is entitled to, then second person, and so forth.) So it's 100% spoken for, forever. The shortfall is made up for by pumping out groundwater, and when they allocated the colorado river water rights, they also decided that they were going to make a 100 year plan for water usage, meaning that after 100 years they would have used up pretty much all the available aquifers. Since then we've discovered some more aquifers, and are willing to drill deeper and run more expensive pumps, but that's only somewhat covering the shortage. We're pretty much collecting exactly what we planned 95 years ago. There are still semi-serious proposals to divert and pump chunks of the Columbia River over into the upper Colorado River basin... which is sort of funny, as much of the original water projects in the upper Colorado River basin were, and are, pumping water from it through the Continental Divide over to the eastern slope to fulfill Colorado, Kansas, Wyoming, and Oklahoma water needs.

The same instructor also noted that depending on how you define your terms, the category of western state water rights was by quite a bit the most common lawsuit that ended up in the US Supreme Court, showing up every couple of years in one form or another.

An old Colorado Saying about water applies here: (3, Insightful)

bobbied (2522392) | about 2 months ago | (#47526465)

Whiskey is for drinking, water is for fighting.

This applies to all of the southwest and a lot of the plains. Land is useless for anything but energy production without a supply of water, so you drink your whiskey and fight over the water. This has been true for centuries and will continue to be true for many more.

PBS covered this (5, Insightful)

WillAffleckUW (858324) | about 2 months ago | (#47526485)

One of the local farmers said "I expect when we run out this next decade, everyone will be very angry over the decisions we made to plant water-intensive crops in a very arid land for so many years".

It's like Global Warming.

It's coming for you whether you believe in it or not.

Water? Like out of the toilet? (3, Funny)

Maltheus (248271) | about 2 months ago | (#47526499)

Why don't they just use Brawndo? It's the thirst mutilator.

Lumping everyone together.... (5, Interesting)

rahvin112 (446269) | about 2 months ago | (#47526525)

I really hate when they lump everyone together. The fastest draining aquifer is the Ogallala, which is in the middle of the country, not the west. What this article claims is absolutely not true in 99% of the areas included in that list of states. My state, Utah has one of the most highly regulated water systems in probably the world. We have strict regulations on wells and draw rates that are reviewed and approved by state regulators that will halt all pumping if they detect subsidence in the aquifer. The aquifers are almost uniformly carefully monitored to ensure water levels don't drop, and in some areas near the salt lake they monitor to ensure positive pressure into the lake is maintained so salt water isn't sucked back into the fresh water.

Yes there are bad situations out there, Las Vegas and Phoenix are terribly managed water systems IMO, favoring growth over conservation. We shouldn't have 6 million people living in a desert that can barely naturally support 1/10 that many. And pumping several hundred thousand acre feet of water over a mountain range for Phoenix is a terrible waste of water, not to mention the water lost to evaporation in the process and the power used.

But this blanket inclusion of all the western states in this indictment is stupid. Those of us with scarce water resources have carefully managed them for the most part. Utah's been managing water use far longer than most states because it's a scarce commodity and always has been. There is a river in Utah where every single drop is used 7 times before discharge into the Salt Lake and the river isn't very long.

If you want to talk about water misuse, talk about the areas misusing water and stop lumping the rest of us in with them.

Re:Lumping everyone together.... (1)

Charliemopps (1157495) | about 2 months ago | (#47526617)

Agreed. Most of the country doesn't have a problem. The people living in the Arizona desert watering their Golf courses are running out of water... well surprise surprise. Let them run out. They can move... pretty much anywhere else in the country to avoid that problem. The solution to this problem is simple... ignore it.

Re:Lumping everyone together.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47526715)

The problem with ignoring it is that those people watering their golf course permanently destroys the aquifer. Long after they are dead, that aquifer will be unavailable for anyone else. They will have reaped all the benefits and will have delivered the shaft to all future generations. fuck that. Furthermore, their damage extends far beyond the borders of their property.

Pot farming (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47526535)

They're wasting the electricity and water on weed at an alarming rate.

FRACKING (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47526545)

FRACKING FRACKING FRACKING!

This is why fracking is BAD. It too uses hundreds of thousands of gallons of potable fresh water to do its thing and all we get for it is fuel to cook food we aren't growing, boil water we're pissing away, and oh yeah, power the air conditioners that are running even more in all this heat from global warming.

Is California populated by idiots!!! (3, Insightful)

FudRucker (866063) | about 2 months ago | (#47526691)

California is sitting next to the largest body of water on the planet, all they need to do is set up some desalination plants to make it potable

Proportionate response? (2)

LessThanObvious (3671949) | about 2 months ago | (#47526743)

California Gov Brown Urges a %20 voluntary reduction in usage. The media coverage has been moderate. In a world where something as mundane as a celebrity tweet is news I have to wonder if this is being downplayed to avoid panic? Is there some broad based assumption that somehow next year or the year after is going to be different? I'm concerned that if the next three years are like this one it could be a serious problem to say the least. +1 Brawndo has electrolytes.
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