Water Conservation

Discussions on the interactions between components of the environment and their effects on all types of organisms.

Water Conservation

Postby zetreque on February 24th, 2015, 12:35 am 

I fear this might make me unpopular but I am going to come out and say that water conservation is not the solution. I am going to go against the popular consensus.

Water conservation is putting a band-aid on the problem rather than fixing the problem itself.

These band-aids to environmental problems only create a more extreme problem that builds.

The problem is us using water at an unsustainable rate.

By everyone conserving water, it just allows more water for the population to grow even further past carrying capacity. If everyone just used the amount of water that they felt healthy using, then we would run out of water when we met real carrying capacity.

I'm thinking the hell with water conservation. People should use water as they normally would and make us run out faster before the problem gets so out of control that the whole system collapses. (see the following video as an example)

60 minutes - California's water crisis.
http://www.cbs.com/shows/60_minutes/video/_BpNWmWN6RoIGapnemcW_KzVDQmWqjnM/preview-water/

GRACE Sees Groundwater Losses Around the World



I say conserve water only if you want the population to grow more. IMO the population is too large and I am feeling crowded out of the planet. Force people to face these problems head on, rather than putting a band-aid over them.


With that said I will counter argue myself with the benefits of water conservation:

-It helps us buffer the system until we figure out a solution, but since hardly anyone cares or accepts the problem, and so few are working on solutions, I see it as dangerous.

-For some areas to sustain a health size population (deserts for example), water should be conserved to the extent that you can balance a healthy size community by maybe sacrificing some water uses aka conservation.

-By not allowing as much water to flow down the drain into our greywater blackwater system, we don't have to put as much energy into filtering that water at waste water treatment plants. But on the other hand, diluted water is cleaner than dirty water anyway, so it requires less if any treatment if done in a sustainable system such as compost toilets or wetland marshes that are setup for it making the whole treatment system cheap or free.
--I think water needs to be diluted (use more of it in some cases), especially with all the toxins we are putting into it now.

Conclusion:

Land and resources use to be abundant, and we never though we would run out of them. Now they are very expensive. Water is abundant, but as it gets dirtier and pumped out of the ground at unsustainable rates, it's going to be very costly in the future unless we start adding in those costs now. Air will be the next thing to go. It seems silly. When I grew up I never would have imagined being stupid enough to have to pay for water, something that is everywhere for free. But rates are going up, and the farming industry is sucking it dry.

Unfortunately the cost is going to come to us in the form of increased food costs. Perhaps food wasn't so cheap all this time and the cost should have been added into food from the beginning. Water is so cheap to farmers that the true water cost is never passed onto the customers buying the food.


Personally, I conserve water only for economic reasons. Money is what people really understand, and if you want them to be aware of the cost of water, you have to price it at it's true cost. That's what makes sense to me. It costs $45,000 to drill a well for a residence. That's the price it costs, so you are damn sure to conserve water if you don't drill a well and have to collect rainwater.
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Re: Water Conservation

Postby Braininvat on May 22nd, 2015, 12:32 pm 

Don't know how I missed this thread. I agree that economics drives what people are willing to do. In a simple economy, where nothing is subsidized and no costs are concealed, scarce things tend to get expensive and people naturally conserve. It the CA drought means that people will have to pay $1000/month to have a big expanse of Kentucky blue grass (or some other water-greedy groundcover), then xeriscaping will catch on. I saw this piece today in the NY Times, on how much CA water the rest of us are using when we buy CA produce, nuts, etc.

http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2015 ... ought.html

It's interesting how much more water it takes to produce walnuts than asparagus (the article shows the amount of water needed for a wide range of agri products).
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Re: Water Conservation

Postby Watson on May 22nd, 2015, 1:51 pm 

Wow I never realized how much water was used to produce food items. I did hear a report on how California residents are watering their lawns less or not at all, well except for some of the celebs, who have conspicuously lush and green estates, inside the walls.
I agree with the OP, artificial sustainability removes the naturally limiting constraint on growth. And growth, to meet maximum capacity of the environment doesn't allow for fluctuation. I agree water conservation is just a reaction to poor planning.
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Re: Water Conservation

Postby zetreque on May 22nd, 2015, 4:30 pm 

That NY times article gives a new meaning to wasting food. It is just the kind of public awareness that is needed to connect people (particularly in cities) to the environment.
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Re: Conservation of Character

Postby Faradave on May 22nd, 2015, 7:41 pm 

Where I live, we have wet years and dry years. Either way, I don't let the water run when I'm brushing my teeth and it wouldn't make a difference if we had a monsoon. I'm this way for most behaviors (Yup, I know exactly how many sheets of bathroom tissue I use. Why should any daily routine be random?)

Now, my wife does, for some reason, let the water run when she brushes her teeth. It's hardly grounds for divorce but if we lived in CA, I'd appeal to her to alter that behavior.

Know what you do. Do what you know.

Efficiency is not an accident. It takes a intelligence and a little effort. Saving water in a wet year may seem silly, but it comes in handy during the dry ones. And becoming efficient in one way enables efficiency in others.

When I let my lawn get naturally brown in a dry summer, I exercise independence of thinking from what the media (and some of my neighbors) might want me to think. That same independence is a valuable asset when I'm scrutinizing an interesting article or inventing an improvement of some device.

So, while I try not to judge others too harshly, I also remember that any idiot can be wasteful and I'd prefer not to be one.
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Re: Water Conservation

Postby zetreque on May 22nd, 2015, 7:55 pm 

Waste is an interesting concept. It can depend on one's perspective.

I think it is important to consider the ratio of water to waste products that end up in it (food scraps, effluent[feces], toothpaste, etc).

There is a sustainable point where the amount of water consumption naturally moves and recycles other particles in our environment, both human-made and natural.

Still, being efficient with water use in a wet year saves energy by not having to pump it into water tanks, treat it, transport it to the location, and deal with sewer waste processing.

Cities and towns all over the world are slowly working toward figuring out what is sustainable, but very far from figuring it out. Figuring out how to store water in reservoirs without impacting fish and wildlife, and what population sizes and be supported by that water. Each location is different. These are the challenges of the future.

When people ask me to cut back on my water use. I just ask them about golf courses. Yet another important part of society that needs to be figured out how to balance (recreation).
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Re: Water Conservation

Postby Eclogite on May 23rd, 2015, 2:02 am 

zetreque » Fri May 22, 2015 6:55 pm wrote:When people ask me to cut back on my water use. I just ask them about golf courses.
On the West Coast of Scotland this would be greeted with a quizzical look.

@zetreque: the flaw in your OP, it appears to me, is that water is not the main factor constraining population growth on a global basis. But perhaps I have misunderstood your main thrust, which is directed at migrant populations to urban centres, or those with inherently dry climates.
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Re: Water Conservation

Postby zetreque on May 23rd, 2015, 2:10 am 

How is water (or use of water) not a main factor in population growth if it is what gives us food? We can also live longer without food than water, and if your water is not of drinking quality or of poor quality then there goes health.

It is the human control of water that lead into or rose with agriculture, which then gave rise to food surplus, which can be said many ways but gave rise to population growth, armies, indulgence, time to develop technology, conquest, etc.

For some recent history take a look at both the book and documentary Cadillac Desert. Pretty amazing how the US government developed water taking control of the major rivers across the western "dry" United States turning Los Angeles into one of the largest cities, and California into a dominant economy and agricultural center. By controlling the flow of the western rivers, they were able to increase populations into cities in the west which can be thought to occupy and secure territory from invading countries and drive out countries/nations who had rights to the land such as Native Americans and Mexicans by overpowering them with population and "white man" culture.

Water might be the single most physical factor in population growth. Now as far as cultural factors for population growth, that is another issue.
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Re: Water Conservation

Postby doogles on May 23rd, 2015, 3:39 am 

I agree with the general thrust of this topic that population growth is something that we must be able to control if we wish to have any sort of sustainable environmental stability on this planet.

I'm not sure though that personal experience of water deprivation would have the effect of limiting reproduction in human beings.

It seems to me that our species breeds in inverse proportion to the availability of water. The dry regions of Africa and the Middle East feature prominently amongst those countries listed as having the highest birth rates - by all the references I've checked.
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Re: Water Conservation

Postby zetreque on May 23rd, 2015, 3:53 am 

doogles, could those be cultural reasons?

Perhaps cultural factors are more in control right now, but I stand that water is the physical factor in how large a population can be supported in the environment, and a factor in occupying/populating areas, particularly dry ones that have been pointed out.

Those areas might be high in population, but how hungry are they? What is their life expectancy?
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Re: Water Conservation

Postby doogles on May 23rd, 2015, 7:47 pm 

Yes, I would think so Zetrique. In fact one would have to bet that a study of why people keep breeding in spite of a lack of resources, would turn out to be multifactorial. And not the least factor would be that sex is a pleasant pastime when there is not much joy in other aspects of one’s life.

I agree with you again that “water is the physical factor in how large a population can be supported in the environment”. People are scarce in the main deserts of the world.

Also, the history of our planet indicates that the first requirement of human beings who wished to remain in one place with security of food supply, was agriculture – and this required water. Hence the early civilisations appeared on the banks of large rivers – as did all of the large early western settlements in the Americas and Australia.

The big problem is how to “Force people to face these problems head on, rather than putting a band-aid over them”, to use your terminology Zetrique. Unfortunately Solomon is no longer alive, and we still have a couple of religions, each representing a sizeable portion of global population, who do not encourage contraception.
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Re: Water Conservation

Postby Watson on May 23rd, 2015, 10:25 pm 

It's the one more problem. One more, plus one more, plus one more, one more, plus one more, one more, plus one more ,one more, plus one more, one more, plus one more, plus one more, plus one more, one more, plus one more, one more, plus one more ,one more, plus one more, one more, plus one more, plus one more, plus one more, one more, plus one more, one more, plus one more ,one more, plus one more, one more, plus one more, plus one more, plus one more, one more, plus one more, one more, plus one more ,one more, plus one more, one more, plus one more, etc.

No one can identify the tipping point of the straw/camel scenario, but it would be prudent in such a case to stay away from such a point.
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Re: Water Conservation

Postby Braininvat on June 5th, 2015, 12:55 pm 

And now another way to feel guilty about eating almonds....

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/06/07/busin ... s-dry.html

Talks about lax drilling laws, draining the aquifer, and land subsidence. If the drought goes on longterm, maybe Cali will have to think about shifting the economic base more away from agriculture. Or at least away from such water-intensive cropping.
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Re: Water Conservation

Postby Darby on June 6th, 2015, 9:12 am 

Braininvat » June 5th, 2015, 12:55 pm wrote:And now another way to feel guilty about eating almonds....

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/06/07/busin ... s-dry.html

Talks about lax drilling laws, draining the aquifer, and land subsidence. If the drought goes on longterm, maybe Cali will have to think about shifting the economic base more away from agriculture. Or at least away from such water-intensive cropping.


The latter (away from the most water intensive crops), because agriculture is too large a segment of california's economy to do otherwise.

If the government were sufficiently smart, and a capable of long term planning, they'd tyake a stab at long term environmental trending and offer some intelligent and timely subsidies to help foster the migration of certain key agri-farming segments (like almonds) to places where they'll be less detrimental.

Sadly, government has rarely proved capable of such proactive efforts.
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Re: Water Conservation

Postby Braininvat on June 12th, 2015, 12:35 pm 

I've always felt that human governments operate on the principle, "Manage by crisis."

Not saying that governments are stupid, but that's the effect when you have too many elected officials who lack a broad education in the principles of science and logic. Leaders are supposed to know who the smart people are, the people they listen to for technical information, and then they are supposed to LEAD. It should be like a starship where the Captain announces, "Engineering informs me that our fresh air system will fail in three weeks, and we will all perish, unless we make prompt repairs to the hydroponics and all cigar smokers confine their habit to a planetary surface or a shuttle craft especially designed as a smoking lounge." He will not be swayed by a cigar freedom lobby or a faction that wants to delay hydroponic repairs until the frisbee golf tournament concludes. We don't want a captain of such a ship who comes from Oklahoma and thinks hydroponic farm degradation is a myth.

I agree that you can't just scrap agriculture in California (or, really, anywhere), but there might have to be fewer acres that are used more efficiently and with better stewardship. In every state, there are lands that aren't really suited to cropping that have been plowed up and...well, I come from Dustbowl people, so I've absorbed the importance of having acreage that sits fallow or is only used for grazing or (in the case of wetlands) for naturally detoxifying and purifying an aquifer. California has a lot of smart people, I expect they will figure it out. And they have a fair number of people descended from Dustbowl refugees, which maybe adds some historical perspective to the thinking.
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Re: Water Conservation

Postby Braininvat on September 19th, 2015, 3:27 pm 

Don't expect El Nino to save you, Cali.

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/09/19/opini ... ornia.html
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Re: Water Conservation

Postby Braininvat on February 19th, 2016, 1:48 pm 

OK, this story makes one wonder - what took them so long to figure this out?

http://www.nytimes.com/2016/02/20/us/st ... ation.html
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Re: Water Conservation

Postby zetreque on February 19th, 2016, 11:45 pm 

Braininvat » Fri Feb 19, 2016 10:48 am wrote:OK, this story makes one wonder - what took them so long to figure this out?

http://www.nytimes.com/2016/02/20/us/st ... ation.html


hahaha. I know. We are living in a nuthouse. The army corps of engineers have screwed over so many water ways that we are having to restore. Near where I live they did something similar. They straightened the river to bring flood waters out of the city. Now they are spending millions to re-meander the river bringing back the ecosystem because channelizing drops the water table below where tree roots are. Not to mention a million other things going on.

Maybe someday people will learn to work with nature rather than against it as they finally understand that they are not all mighty gods (who hypocritically and strange enough believe in gods which they created).
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