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Dam on the upper San Jaoquin

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Re: Dam on the upper San Jaoquin

Postby ERIC » Tue Oct 28, 2014 3:30 pm

rlown wrote:Eric,

What are your thoughts on groundwater banking w/o monitoring/metering Agriculture pumping? Seems we have that with above ground water feeds today. Not so much with the farmers freely pumping groundwater.


Because of my job I have to be careful about what I say publicly about any of this (sticking to what I know to be facts). I can only point out that A) groundwater banking activities are already monitored and reported, and B) the Groundwater Sustainability Act of 2014 requires that all pumping (agriculture included) must be metered within the schedule set forth by that legislation.
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Re: Dam on the upper San Jaoquin

Postby Wandering Daisy » Tue Oct 28, 2014 5:16 pm

Water infrastructure evens out the effects of flood/drought cycles that are normal for California. Read your history. Before these structures, for example, Sacramento flooded regularly. This is a complex issue. There are good dams and bad ones; good water banks and bad ones. I wrote feasibility studies for large water projects before I retired, and the general public has little idea of what goes into these projects. The Sierra is nature's "dam", snowpack, holds water and releases it slowly. Global warming is putting this essential natural process at risk. Be glad that someone is actually trying to figure out how to mitigate this problem with water infrastructures. A few more dams and water banks are actually needed. In drought periods there is no "cheap water". Farmers pay a premium for water in a drought and sustain large economic losses. I do not buy that they are the "problem" or evil.
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Re: Dam on the upper San Jaoquin

Postby rlown » Tue Oct 28, 2014 7:36 pm

never meant to imply that farming is evil. Pretty much the life blood of California. Just wanted to see if the amount pumped from their wells was monitored. If we pump the aquifer back up only to see it depleted again in an unregulated fashion, that would be bad.

I live in an unincorporated section of Sonoma Cnty, and everyone here is on a well. All w/o meters.

Whatever the approach, more "storage" is needed, especially if we keep building the sprawl of housing like we seem to be doing. Even if it's personal storage systems built into the housing or recycled water systems for reuse.
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Re: Dam on the upper San Jaoquin

Postby sparky » Tue Oct 28, 2014 8:05 pm

Is reclaimed water used for irrigation of crops at all?
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Re: Dam on the upper San Jaoquin

Postby rlown » Tue Oct 28, 2014 8:18 pm

There was a story on the local paper discussing the concept:

http://www.pressdemocrat.com/home/26781 ... ave#page=1

We're doing it here.

from page 2 of the article:

To preserve ground and surface supplies, the county has also been expanding its storage and delivery of recycled water for growers and ranchers.
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Re: Dam on the upper San Jaoquin

Postby ERIC » Tue Oct 28, 2014 8:40 pm

sparky wrote:Is reclaimed water used for irrigation of crops at all?


Yes.

Ironically, the Central Valley has been recycling its water for decades historically out of necessity (not a lot of options for where to dispose of it) while this is a relatively new turn of events for coastal communities (traditionally disposed of either directly or indirectly to the ocean). Of course I'm generalizing, but on the whole this is what has been the case. Most of the medium to large communities in the CV have exchange/sale agreements with water/irrigation districts for use of the reclaimed water. Its used in various ways - most commonly for groundwater recharge or for direct irrigation purposes. But you're beginning to see reclaimed water used in other ways as well. Bottom line, increasing water scarcity is forcing all California communities throughout the state to implement more efficient ways of reclaiming treated water. It's a very good thing.
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Re: Dam on the upper San Jaoquin

Postby ERIC » Tue Oct 28, 2014 9:01 pm

Wandering Daisy wrote:Water infrastructure evens out the effects of flood/drought cycles that are normal for California. Read your history. Before these structures, for example, Sacramento flooded regularly. This is a complex issue. There are good dams and bad ones; good water banks and bad ones. I wrote feasibility studies for large water projects before I retired, and the general public has little idea of what goes into these projects. The Sierra is nature's "dam", snowpack, holds water and releases it slowly. Global warming is putting this essential natural process at risk. Be glad that someone is actually trying to figure out how to mitigate this problem with water infrastructures. A few more dams and water banks are actually needed. In drought periods there is no "cheap water". Farmers pay a premium for water in a drought and sustain large economic losses. I do not buy that they are the "problem" or evil.


While I personally agree with what you've said, I'll add that the rhetoric oozes thick from all water interests out there. Take everything you all read with a grain a salt because IMO few if any articles or sources of information are without bias - especially right now when emotions are running so high.
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Re: Dam on the upper San Jaoquin

Postby Cross Country » Wed Oct 29, 2014 9:54 am

I believe what Eric said to be soooooo true. I need to point out that I am neither educated formally nor informaly in politics. However what little I know of politics tells me that Eric is correct.
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Re: Dam on the upper San Jaoquin

Postby HikeSierraNevada » Thu Nov 06, 2014 1:45 pm

Prop 1 passed by a healthy margin. It's $7.5 billion, not $14 billion as stated in an early post. $2.7 billion for water storage, but the way its written, don't worry this will lead to a lot of new dams. It specifically won't pay directly for water supply storage. The wording separates "public benefit" from "private benefit" and only funds the costs of a project relative to the "public benefits." And no more than 50% of any project. So this is a cost-sharing arrangement that will not fund any project in its entirety.

Strangely, water supply is not considered a "public benefit" by this proposition. Whatever part of a dam or project that is allocated for water supply, that cost has to be paid for by the end user, even if they are a public agency like a city. I find that an odd distinction, but I get the concept. If you want the water, you have to pay to develop the storage. The state will pay for costs associated with environmental benefits, recreation benefits, flood control control benefits, groundwater recharging benefits, but not for new surface water supply. So this will help get water infrastructure projects going, but it won't pay for developing more water supply directly. Theoretically, the entire $2.7 billion could go for dry flood control dams and environmental habitat without actually increasing water supply one drop. I don't think it will happen that way, but it illustrates the way this is prop is worded.

The end result will probably be a lot more groundwater recharge, maybe one large new dam, and likely some smaller dams will be built or raised. The other funds (besides the $2.7 billion for water storage) will help with water conservation, groundwater monitoring, fixing leaky pipelines, and other water projects that will help conserve or clean up existing supplies.

So overall, Prop 1 will help, but don't worry about too much money going for new dams. It's just a drop in the bucket, a bucket that people don't appreciate until its empty.
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Re: Dam on the upper San Jaoquin

Postby Troutdog 59 » Thu Nov 06, 2014 4:33 pm

Like Eric, I have to be careful what I say about this issue due to my line of work, but the White Elephant in the room of discussion about water distribution that nobody wants to talk about is do we have enough water in this state for all of those who want to use it? Water is not infinite in supply and while I dont oppose new storage projects, especially groundwater banking, would there have been water to store behind this new dam this year in the third year of a drought? The answer is no, it would be dry now as well. Again, I'm not persoannly opposed to new dams, but the beliief that one water storage project will cure all our water ills is nothing but folley.

Regading recycled water usage, its done all of the time and its use is increasing in these scarce water times.
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Re: Dam on the upper San Jaoquin

Postby rlown » Thu Nov 06, 2014 6:25 pm

i thought some of the weirdness of our current dams was around the water release schedules (dating back to the 50's). If you see a drought coming, don't release the water you don't have to (other than for fish or farming). I know that's a tall order, but still. keep everything you can in storage until you actually have to dump it for safety, and even better if you can funnel that to another storage basin.

I still want more dams, other then hetch hetchy. that's just wrong, NPS wise. And when the water is as low as it has been, get the graders into the current dams and dig deeper. Yes, the intakes probably are in the wrong places to take up more supply, but at least clean out the silt.
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Re: Dam on the upper San Jaoquin

Postby Wandering Daisy » Thu Nov 06, 2014 7:28 pm

Water supply is all about timing. Dams do not create water, but the do store water that likely will be melting sooner from the Sierra. Groundwater banking has its problems and issues too. It is not an answer in itself. The answer to water problems is to approach it for all angles - less demand (less population- politically incorrect to discuss this), more conservation (waste of all kinds contribute - waste 1/3 of our food supply and you have wasted the water needed to produce it), more storage, better releases, better distribution (canals, pipelines), and more monitoring (how can you fix something if you do not even know what the status is?). On and on! Both supply and demand are changing and we must adjust.

I personally voted against the water bond. Probably because of the years I worked on water projects. I got a bit jaded seeing on the inside what goes on. (I am retired now so can say such stuff). I am not against the projects, per se. I am leery of bonds and public funds as the financing tools. Leery of anything produced from too much politics. Too much paper shuffling and too little actual work being done.

Prop 1 passed. I just hope the $$$ are spent well.
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