html xmlns="http://www.w3.org/1999/xhtml" xml:lang="en" lang="en"> From the archives: The news, Megan-style.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

The news, Megan-style.

This article, on the ground sinking on the west side of the Central Valley as the aquifer underneath is depleted, blew my mind. I had seen the picture of subsidence on the east side before, but we build the freakin’ Friant Division to switch farmers to surface water and recharge groundwater on the east side. For some reason I hadn’t realized it was also a problem on the west side. That is amazing shit, that you can feel the undulations from the ground sinking under you as you drive the 5. Thirty feet, motherfuckers.

Also! I’ve been to Three Rock!. It was for a field trip. I don’t remember what we were stopped in Three Rock for, but I wandered into a diner and a whole bunch of guys with big guts turned to look at me. One of them asked, wonderingly, what I was doing there. I said I was on a field trip to learn irrigation systems. There was a long pause and some guy, I didn’t see who, said loud and clear, “Lady, you could do so much better than irrigation.”

Also also! My friends and I spontaneously switched from calling Three Rock to Tres Piedras, although I don’t think anyone else does. That isn’t uncommon for us, although we don’t actually speak Spanish. I dunno. We just do.

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You know what else blew my mind? This article, on using two paired satellites to detect changes in gravity as they pass over the earth’s surface, which they can use to MEASURE CHANGES IN GROUNDWATER! I would never have thought of that in my life, but it is SUPER neato.

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I got this link from Defective Yeti, who seems to be poaching my domain of water-related links, which I don’t exactly appreciate because I don’t infringe on his domain of pithy, funny posts. Worse, he gets there first. Anyway, the video is dramatic, but the thing I don’t get is: where the hell is that storm drain that the runoff is under thirty feet of head? Seriously. Is there a big hill just off the screen? Is that freeway in a bowl? Where is the overflow for that stormdrain system (besides the freeway) and is it blocked right now? How has this not happened before?

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After a bunch of litigation, there is now an agreement between environmentalists, growers and their water authority to restore the San Joaquin River. The Congressional Budget Office released a study saying that’ll cost $500M. Growers are worried that they’ll pay for that in increased costs of irrigation water, but every time I see that number, I think that someone owes me half a billion dollars worth of river. That was an incredible gift we gave them over fifty years.

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Finally, I liked this article a lot. It is about the Metropolitan Water District’s (= Los Angeles’) plan to address Delta levees failing during a calamitous earthquake. Delta levees protect Delta islands, which are hundreds of acres big and about twenty feet under sea level. On the other side, levees protect the freshwater channels that the big pumps draw water through. If the levees fail, fresh and seawater fills the islands, drawing seawater into those channels and eventually into the pumps sending water south. UCD geologist J*ff M**nt predicts that there is a two in three chance that those levees will fail calamitously in the next 50 years.

So everyone is all fired up about how to solve this; the leading proposal is the Peripheral Canal. But in the meantime, the primary emphasis I’ve heard is to maintain those Delta levees and hope for the best. Which I why I loved that article. In that article, MWD is saying, “Nope. That doesn’t pencil out for us. It is cheaper for us to re-build the system after it fails than maintain it the way it is now.”

Now, there may be a million things wrong with that approach; for starters, my boss thinks their estimates on both maintenance and re-building are drastically low. But I love that it is a bald declaration against the way we do business in the Delta and against the conventional notions that preventative maintenance is best. Nope, says LA. Disaster for the Delta is still cheaper for us. In that article, growers who farm Delta islands say that is “unacceptable”, but they’ve long been free-riding off the fact that LA needs it the way it is now to get water south. Without that shelter, Delta growers don’t have the money or clout to pay for the levees that keep their islands from becoming twenty foot deep brackish lakes. Again, I don’t know enough to know whether MWD’s approach is a good one. But I like that it is unconventional.

7 Comments:

Blogger Jason said...

That was compacted thirty feet 30 years ago. I understand that that pole is gone now, but does anyone have any idea where it stands now?

A lot of interesting stuff about Mr. Poland, your pole dancer there, with a quick Google.

6:17 PM  
Anonymous Peter said...

That picture is just amazing.

7:01 PM  
Anonymous Francis said...

K*ghtlinger, the MWD GM, has big brass balls. He's saying that the St*te W*ter Contr*ctors who serve municipal areas have enough storage south of the Delt* that they can afford to have a blowout in the Delt*. Farmers, on the other hand, cannot irrigate with seawater(the plants complain) nor store enough water out of the Delta to be able to meet irrigation needs.

between the collapse of the smelt, the San Jo*quin river ruling and DxRs failure to get a take permit from DFnG (and DxRs continuing failure to comply with CEQA with regard to the Montxrey Accxrds), I think we are actually hitting the perfect storm.

Southern California went through a huge fight with out-of-state interests over the Colorxdo River which finally resulted in the Quxntification Sxttlement xgreement. It's time to have the same fight over the Delta.

(btw, i'm very sorry that men suck.)

11:39 AM  
Blogger Megan said...

Francis:

But they don't suck. Lots of times they're great and lots of them are great. It is just that dating and being straightforward is a really hard thing to do.

Yep, that was a ballsy declaration from MWD.

12:56 PM  
Anonymous rcriii said...

Great video. Any other ideas on what is happening? Could part of the stormwater system be airbound and the air takes this volume of water out when it vents, so this drain is acting as a relief valve? For some reason this made me think of waterhammer...

Did you notice the person strolling by just as the second eruption happened?

11:37 AM  
Blogger Megan said...

Whoa! You might be right! It does look like waterhammer, doesn't it? I'll have to watch it again. (Although I still won't know, even if I do.)

4:31 PM  
Anonymous rcriii said...

On a pipeline dredge there usually is an air valve on the discharge line, and when the dredge starts up it looks exactly like the video until the pipe fills with water and the valve shuts. You have seen a dredge start up? If not we must remedy that.

Sorry about the late comment, I lost the link when you shut down the blog.

2:49 PM  

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