html xmlns="" xml:lang="en" lang="en"> From the archives: Listener hour.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Listener hour.

I'm taking requests on water, irrigation and infrastructure posts, although I always figure you guys are humoring me. Ask away.

(California, y'all. But you knew that.)


Anonymous hc said...

Book progress? Or is that too early?

Desalinization - when is it viable?

Sewage treatment systems, practical and political difficulties?

More rhapsodizing about long-crested weirs and other elegant designs?

6:06 PM  
Blogger ptm said...

Does the use of spring snowmelt for floody irrigation make sense? My understanding is that there's not sufficient capacity to store it, but everything's a choice.

Water people plan on timescales as anybody I know (except maybe the DoD and cockroaches). Do ya'll look at potential effects of climate change on your water supply? If so, how?

Do you have any deep thoughts on the distributional problems of using WTP-type measures to value environmental goods in a region of wide income diversity?

If this post is a response to my comment, I didn't mean to snap. I more meant to express how much I do enjoy your writing on technical topics.

And yeah, the book?

7:18 PM  
Anonymous doctorpat said...

I vote for elegant designs in the water distribution area as well.

And I liked that one about looking at the tide marks to see how good the level control was, and what that meant in terms of design.

But then I'm a wierdo, who was glad when, at the last party I was at, I was cornered by someone who wanted to discuss motorway design rather than politics or entertainment gossip.

7:45 PM  
Blogger Jacqueline said...

Nevada is right next to California! When is Las Vegas going to run out of water, and then what happens?

7:58 PM  
Blogger Tom said...

How about a big 'ol glossary?

8:11 PM  
Blogger bBass said...

I'd like to second the desalinization request.

8:36 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Where does San Diego's water come from? Is "toilet-to-tap" a legitimate source of water? Is the Colorado River really the source of all of southern Cal's water?

8:59 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Prices (marginal prices and any sort of "water rights" payments, if they exist) that different groups of people pay for water across California -- city folks taking showers, Suburbanites watering their lawns, farmers growing crops. That'd be awesome!

I also third the desalinization request. Man, if you could even talk about the cost of desalinating water compared to the price/cost of getting water by other means... and put those prices in meaningful terms... including information both on fixed costs of desalination plants as well as marginal costs of continued operation... That would be a great post.

1:40 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh, man. I wanted to know some general thoughts about the newly announced crisis in the Southeast.

8:21 AM  
Blogger Noel said...

Great ideas in water management. Surely the aqueduct was a major advance in civilisation. What other gems are there? How has practice changed over time? Why is the 'fertile crescent' now a desert? I realise you probably aren't qualified to answer this, but I thought I'd throw it out.

9:29 AM  
Anonymous greg c said...

This is a general interest of mine--how about ways to look at water and infrastructure issues systematically with respect to sustainability. I don't quite know what I mean by that, but here's an example:

I was asked to do some research into stormwater management issues for my city's regional planning commission a few months ago (with a specific focus on the problems that freezing conditions pose for structural (I think) BMPs--this is not what I'm interested in).

In the course of doing that, I tried to get a better feel for the hydrology of my area, an eastern plains state--one of the "I" ones. The grossly simplified picture I got was that the plains were a product of two forces: low rainfall and very slowly rolling moraines, which allowed fires to spread almost without heed. Grassland thrived under these conditions, but where you didn't see those two forces--where rivers came together and leeward of what hills we do have--you got forests.

Now, my sense of environmentalism says: we ought to try to mimic the environment around us. Which I thought meant: we ought to look at how to manage stormwater to reflect the prairie. But as I figured out the above, I decided that wasn't quite right: we needed to mimic those areas of forests (since people seem to like making cities forest-like, with the street trees and all). And so I stopped thinking about stormwater as a problem--how do we manage it--and started trying to think of it as an opportunity--impervious surfaces act to concentrate stormwater, so that we can better mimic the forests that naturally occur in the plains. And then how do we make this work with our other systems (microclimates for pedestrians, energy control for buildings, etc.).

Stepping back and looking at it regionally, I think this makes sense. Essentially, this creates a patch of forest inside a mosaic of prairie-like agriculture (well, very slightly prairie-like, being that it's corn (a tallgrass) and soy).

Anyhow, that's long and rambling and weirdly specific, but I'd be interested in hearing about whether or how it meshes with how y'all work.

9:50 AM  
Blogger I don't pay said...

How about something really meta, such as your impressions, necessarily vague but based on a reading better-informed than most, of what a rational water policy for the whole country, or maybe even hemisphere, would look like. Not just the familiar danger points in SoCal, but the spots elsewhere, equally distorted by false incentives, where despite rainfall the catastrophe might actually fall sooner?

Speak, Prophetess!

10:14 AM  
Blogger Nathan said...

How does water policy differ in California from more well-watered regions back East?

11:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Would charging more for water produce more environmentally sound outcomes?

11:20 AM  
Blogger John said...

I would like to hear something from you about whether the governor (and therefore your boss) is correct to insist that any state effort to help the Delta include surface storage. See this Op-Ed article as a starting point.

4:32 PM  
Anonymous scottb said...

No one asked about the upcoming bond measures dealing with water. What's up with that?

Also, in response to K (anon) at 8:59...years ago when I lived in Altadena, just north of Pasadena, against the mountains, in the LA basin, our water company was small and local and our water came, in great measure, directly from the San Gabriel mountains. We may have been a miniscule minority, but there's an existance proof that not all SoCal water comes from elsewhere...


9:56 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow, what great suggestions. I particularly like Greg C.'s, even though I am sure I don't understand it.

Mine: path dependence and technology lock-in. Do you see this with water infrastructure/irrigation? Are there old methods (I dunno, canal profiles, or something) that are clearly inferior but still get built? New methods that can't get adopted? Why and why not? You touched on this once in a discussion of surge flows, by the way.

Also, you have lots of gems about specific technology you could toss out, too. What are those Denadean Gates, anyway?

A "pescalators!" 4

2:45 PM  

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