In Solar Power Lies Path to Reducing Water Use For EnergyIn Solar Power Lies Path to Reducing Water Use For Energy

California’s Mojave Desert, which drivers cross on Interstate 15 between Los Angeles and Las Vegas, encompasses 20 million acres of land and three national parks, hosts 2,500 species of plants and animals, is shadowed by mountain ridges that rise to nearly 12,000 feet, and has the largest collection of solar thermal power plants in the world.

Between 1984 and 1991, Luz International Ltd., a Los Angeles—based engineering company, developed and built nine solar electricity generating stations in the Mojave that produce a total of 354 megawatts, about the same amount as a small coal-fired utility.

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Comment:

The problem with solar and other “renewables” is that they still are but a small part of the overall energy picture. With nuclear basically banned, for now, in America, the future lies with natural gas — which is plentiful in America, and relatively cheap. Solar, thermal, etc. are sideshows.

California Drought is No Problem for Kern County Oil Producers

Farming accounts for the lions’ share of water use in Kern County and 88 percent of the Kern County Water Agency, according to Creel. This is not surprising when one looks at a map of the San Joaquin Valley. In spite of the valley’s desert conditions, the region has been transformed by these massive irrigation projects into a Cartesian gridwork of farms. Today, irrigated farmland and grazing pastures account for more than half of Kern County’s 8,100 square miles.

But there is another big water user in Kern County – the oil industry. In spite of the dwindling production from its aging oilfields, Kern County still accounts for 10 percent of the U.S.’s domestic oil production. While occupying a far smaller land footprint than the county’s agricultural users, the Kern County oil industry consumes a staggering volume of water. According to the California Division of Oil, Gas and Geothermal Resources, Kern County oil companies injected 1.3 billion barrels of water and steam into the ground in order to produce 162 million barrels of oil a year.

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Water Replenishment District board members vote themselves credit cards, eliminate restrictions on international travel

LAKEWOOD – With the Bell city payroll scandal still in the news, members of a regional water district board voted to give themselves credit cards.

But the move split the board, with member Lillian Kawasaki calling the new perk approved in a 3-2 vote last week by directors of the Water Replenishment District of Southern California a step backward.

“Now more than ever we need to have greater transparency and accountability to the public by elected officials,” said Kawasaki, who voted no along with member Rob Katherman.

“The vote on international travel and credit cards are all steps backwards. We’re moving in the wrong direction. It could further erode the confidence the public has in public officials,” she said.

The district manages ground water for nearly 4 million residents in 43 cities in southern Los Angeles County.

Read more: Water Replenishment District board members vote themselves credit cards, eliminate restrictions on international travel – Whittier Daily News http://www.whittierdailynews.com/news/ci_15871578#ixzz0xXu8gQau

Ban on sewage dumping along California coast to get federal teeth

Cruise ships and large commercial ships will be banned from dumping any kind of sewage — even highly filtered wastewater — along California’s coast out to three miles from shore, under new rules from the Obama administration.

The rules, which are scheduled to be announced Wednesday at a news conference in San Francisco, give California among the strictest laws in the nation limiting pollution from large ships.

“This is going to cover the entire California coastline,” said state Sen. Joe Simitian, D-Palo Alto. “Oceangoing vessels should not consider our coastline a place for dumping sewage.”

In 2005, Simitian wrote a bill that Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed banning sewage discharges in state waters from cruise ships and commercial ships larger than 300 gross tons.

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Santa Ana River was West’s greatest flood hazard

By NITA HILTNER
Special to The Press-Enterprise
 

With California in a long drought the last few years, it is easily forgotten that the state has had great disastrous floods. Three great floods in California have affected the Inland Empire since 1862.

In 1862, the population of the state was 500,000, with 100,000 living in San Francisco. During the flood, the Sacramento area became an inland sea with water over the tops of telegraph poles. Two large lakes were formed by the Santa Ana River in the Inland Empire and in Orange County. The community of Agua Mansa near Colton was destroyed. One-third of the property in California was destroyed and the state capital was temporarily moved from Sacramento to San Francisco.

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DWR petitions to extend State Water Project permits

The Department of Water Resources, which holds permits to appropriate water for the State Water Project, has petitioned the State Water Resources Control Board to extend several of those permits for five years to December 31, 2015.  Last week, SWRCB noticed the petitions (PDF), allowing protest until September 20.  The relevant permits authorize diversions from the Feather River and the Delta, storage at Lake Oroville and San Luis Reservoir, and power generation at Oroville and Thermalito.

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Aganomics question on farm water

From David Zetland at Aguanomics:

Economists often assume that people use their foresight to weight the costs and benefits from actions on their current and future selves.

For example, a farmer without neighbors* will not overdraft an aquifer today because he will want water tomorrow, for himself or his descendants.

But what if he makes a mistake and really does use the water “unsustainably”?

There appear to be three ways to respond to this mistake:

  1. He’s screwed up. Let him suffer.
  2. The government should intervene, to rescue him from his folly and regulate sustainable use.
  3. Allow the market to correct the problem, so an outside buyer replaces him and restores sustainability, i.e., the long term flow of value from the land and water.

Note the problems with (2) that do not exist with (3). The government is a monolith that can make a similar mistake (intervening too much or too little or in the wrong way), but many market players compete to provide the best solution. Second, the government does not get rewarded for clever action (more profits) so there’s no incentive to get things right. A new buyer, OTOH, would benefit from the profits of a good action.

What do you guys think of this problem and the solutions? Do you have example of wise governments or dumb markets? Please DO ignore problems and solutions involving property rights and/or commons.*


* I am intentionally avoiding a tragedy of the commons race among neighbors to pump before others do, etc. 

Economists often assume that people use their foresight to weight the costs and benefits from actions on their current and future selves.

For example, a farmer without neighbors* will not overdraft an aquifer today because he will want water tomorrow, for himself or his descendants.

But what if he makes a mistake and really does use the water “unsustainably”?

There appear to be three ways to respond to this mistake:

  1. He’s screwed up. Let him suffer.
  2. The government should intervene, to rescue him from his folly and regulate sustainable use.
  3. Allow the market to correct the problem, so an outside buyer replaces him and restores sustainability, i.e., the long term flow of value from the land and water.

Note the problems with (2) that do not exist with (3). The government is a monolith that can make a similar mistake (intervening too much or too little or in the wrong way), but many market players compete to provide the best solution. Second, the government does not get rewarded for clever action (more profits) so there’s no incentive to get things right. A new buyer, OTOH, would benefit from the profits of a good action.

What do you guys think of this problem and the solutions? Do you have example of wise governments or dumb markets? Please DO ignore problems and solutions involving property rights and/or commons.*


* I am intentionally avoiding a tragedy of the commons race among neighbors to pump before others do, etc.

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Trager Water Report comment:

Generally, the private solutions would be better, with government acting only as referee to private contracts. But it also depends on what sort of government one has. If it’s a reasonable local government, then even #2 might be tolerable. But if it’s a distant, unreasonable government — what America now has — then expect the worst.

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