Archive for the ‘Drought’ tag
Even the US based National Groundwater Association (NGWA) has put a collection of drought related information together. Another piece of evidence that seems to suggest that a) the US-Southwest/Midwest has water problems, and that b) extremes get more and more important.
The US-Southwest is again in the Weired-news. What’s up with those guys? Either there is a real problem, or somebody at Weired is really a Southwesterner… In this latest article, Weird describes how Lake Powell and Lake Mead could run dry really soon. I have been to the Southwest when I was about in grade 10. Still, I looked the locations up in google.earth (click for larger view):
Notice the city of Los Angeles in the very South West of that map. The city of Las Vegas is just to the West of Lake Mead; The yellow line between the two lakes is 300km long.
It is a little while ago when I was in Laughlin, so my memories are a little weak. I do have one vivid memory however: We were driving the whole day through what for me essentially felt like a dessert. Our goal for the day was to reach the back then little town of Laughlin, Nevada, about 150km south of Las Vegas, downstream along the Colorado River. For me this town Laughlin seem to be totally crazy. In the middle of that dessert there were water sprinklers running to water the lush green grass of a golf course. We stayed for really cheap at a fancy hotel, with swimming pool and everything you would expect in say San Francisco. We had dinner, and that was the first moment I saw the Colorado River. A seemingly big, mighty river. Things changed dramatically over night. We had breakfast, and there was no more river. No more. They told us they pump the water out over night for irrigation. That scared me. Now, I’m no expert on the Southwest nor on the water resources there. Putting all my groundwater knowledge that I gained during university, the things I saw back then did not seem right for a dessert. I kind of doubt that water related things (water consumption) improved since then.
Wired has some pictures from Orange County’s (California) latest groundwater replenishment system. For $480M it converts 70M gallons of dirty water (sewage) into drinking water.
Western Water Crisis
Weird has another water story, also on the western parts of the US: Climate change is anticipated to severe the water crisis there.
Irrigation – but what crops
Another Weired story: not only how irrigation is done is important, also the crops play a role (who would have thought).
The Guardian Weekly (in its issue October 5-11, 2007, page 6) reports that chinese officials admit for the first time major problems with the Three Georges Dam which was finished last year, and since the planning phase has been object of major criticism. As far as I can recollect, this is the first statement that I’ve read so far that admits that there are problems. And substantial problems:
Chinaâ€™s showcase hydro-engineering project, the Three Gorges Dam, could become an environmental catastrophe unless remedial action is taken, the state media reported last week. […] officials warned that landslides and pollution were among the â€œhidden dangersâ€ facing the worldâ€™s biggest hydro-electric plant. The alarmist reports, carried by the Xinhua news agency and the Peopleâ€™s Daily website, were in stark contrast to the congratulatory tone of most domestic coverage of the project, which was planned for flood control along the Yangtze and for lessening Chinaâ€™s dependence on power driven by coal.
[…] ‘There are many new and old hidden ecological and environmental dangers concerning the Three Gorges Dam,’ Xinhua quoted officials as saying. ‘If preventive measures are not taken, the project could lead to a catastrophe.’ […] Li Chunming, vice-governor of Hubei, reportedly said that tributaries were being affected by outbreaks of algae. According to Xinhua, the rising volume of water in the reservoir behind the dam has eroded river banks along 91 stretches of the Yangtze, triggering landslides. The sudden collapses of soil into the water has created waves that have been up to 50 m high, the agency said.
[…] The prime minister, Wen Jiabao, raised these issues in the state council this year. His senior advisers have warned that the problems are as yet far from solved. ‘We cannot lower our guard against ecological and environmental problems caused by the Three Gorges project,’ Wang Xiaofeng, director in charge of building the dam, was quoted as saying. ‘We cannot win by achieving economic prosperity at the cost of the environment.’
Saudi-Arabia is an arid country. Cows do like and need water. Hence, Saudi-Arabia and cows don’t match very well. One would think. However, money can make things go round and round. This (german) news-story from the ZDF “auslandsjournal” shows a milk farm in Saudi-Arabia. It is the biggest milk farm in the world, and it does have a cooling system for the cows, including cold-water foot-baths for them. Also the kind of cows, bread in Saudi-Arabia drink 50L more water per day than an average european cow. Were does all this water come from? Fossil ground water. For an hydrogeologist, the interview with the grand-son of the current king of Saudi-Arabia is rather hilarious!
The month of April has been exceptionally warm, and there has been exceptionally little precipitation in Germany. The danger of forest fires is extremely high, barbecue stations in the forests around Stuttgart are being closed because the danger of accidentally starting a fire are too high. Generally, vegetation is about four weeks ahead of the average time for flowering. Personally, I was sleeping outside in a sleeping bag without using a tent in early April. I had never done this before. Die SÃ¼ddeutsche Zeitung (SZ) has two articles relating to this topic in its issue from April 26th:
- “Italien ruft Wassernotstand aus“: Farmers in the valley of the river Po in northern Italy needed to start irrigating their fields in early April, about 4 weeks earlier than normal, leading to a water level in the river meters below the average. Additionally, water levels in Italy’s northern lakes (Lago di Garda, Lago di Como) are down as well. Decreased water levels in rivers are anticipated to decrease the output of power plants and hence power shortages are expected. The author expects that a state of emergency will be issued early next week if it doesn’t rain until then.
- “Die Angst vor der grossen Duerre“: This article paints a similar picture for southern Germany as for Italy: early beginning of irrigation, decreased yield of agricultural crops,