EPA – Water Shortages – Fracking – Privatization – Who Wins?

Like a flower that has no scent, there are simply some things in this world that science cannot duplicate no matter how hard they try. Water is another. But while flowers give us beauty, water gives us life, without it we die. As shortages become a larger issue, maps abound with predictions of shortages worldwide, and surpluses too. Unfortunately, the maps don’t always concur.

And while the US would appear to be a hair-trigger on the maps, some showing the US as doing just fine, others are not so amicable showing severe shortages in the US within the next 10 years. Other areas that will be hit the hardest include the entire middle east, most of Europe and northern Africa. Two countries would appear to be consistently well off; Russia and Canada.

FYI – the Brazilian guy who has made an engine that will run on water – ummm, maybe not a good idea…

The World Resource Institute is one of the organizations making predictions. An interesting anomaly is the fact that with the exception of the most northern regions of Africa, and the most southern, Africa will be quite well off, abundant with water. I imagine this corresponds with the recent land grabs that have taken Africa by storm because one of the main functions of this Institute is to determine where sustainable food sources will occur. Given Russia is off limits to ‘land grabbing’, Africa was an easy target.

In the US, drought comes and goes, moves and shifts radically. In 2012, the entire midwest was experiencing a catastrophic drought. In 2015, the catastrophe migrated to California, Oregon and Washington. But there are factors that have nothing to do with climate change or with per capita usage, shale harvesting. Fracking consumes water, and lots of it. One well can require upwards of 5 million gallons of water over its lifetime. While there is no absolute data on the number of fracking wells in the US, according to FracTracker, the number is well over 1.1 million.

Quick math – that would mean water use using an average number of 3.1 million gallons per well at 1.1 million wells would equate to 3,410,000,000,000 gallons of water used per year – for fracking. That’s 1/4th the total usage in all of California from all sources per year. Assuming the average household in the US consumes 127,400 gallons per year, fracking would be the equivalent consumption of 26,766,091 households.

Fracking is not just about water – it is about oil – and oil creates an economy based on increased exports and smaller imports – unless oil prices are low, – and then the economy begins a jittery nose dive which cuts jobs – including fracking jobs – which lowers exports.

So who owns the US water? Privatization has been a slow churn, but a churn nonetheless over the last few decades providing about 15%-18% of the US population’s water. The largest private companies include; American Water, United Water, Aqua America, California Water Services, and America States Water.

American Water: AWK – originally a subsidiary of a German company, it was divested in 2008 and is wholly US owned.

United Water: UWR – a subsidiary of Suez Environment, a French company whose majority ownership is held

by GDF Suez, who is considered one of two of the largest privatized water companies in the world.

Aqua America: WTR – a Pennsylvania company providing water to major fracking enterprises

California Water Services: CWT – is a holding company with subsidiaries in Hawaii, New Mexico and Washington.

American States Water: AWR – also based in California.

While the World Bank and the IMF are aggressively promoting privatization of water, historically it has proven to be an affront to the public with massive rate hikes, corruption and gross water contamination charges.

In an over-reach of the water rights in the US we have our favorite friend – the EPA. The EPA recently extended their Clean Water guns basically aiming them at every tributary, stream, brook, runoff, ditch, standing water, rain water, lake, river and pond across the entire US whether on public or private land.  And the repercussions are being felt.  A Wyoming man who was granted all the proper permits to build a self contained pond on his own property for his livestock is being sued by the EPA for failure to meet their clean water rules.  He is being charged a penalty of $75,000 per day.

According to the Financial Statements for the EPA, it’s ‘non-federal’ revenue for clean water amounted to nearly 5 times its federal revenue receipts.  This would be in addition to the $9billion they receive from the Feds.

A massive power grab – wouldn’t it be fun to charge the EPA the same daily rate they charge for noncompliance in Clean Water? The Colorado River sludge was caused by their own negligence, at $75,000 per day for penalties alone, they would already be liable to Colorado for 24 days – $1,800,000 and counting!! Yehah!

Of course, they won’t be liable. But it was a fun 3 seconds…and it doesn’t seem fair they shouldn’t ante up.

California Drought – All The Leaves Are Brown

I have such a hard time listening to the plague of drought that is decimating California. I have a hard time, not just because it is happening, but because it has happened for centuries. California has experienced devastating droughts historically that at times lasted decades. We know this. It is common knowledge. And yet, the real problem is that they have never done one lick to anticipate and fix the ongoing issue. Nothing.

Is it the fault of the people, the homeowners, the farmers? No! They do what they can under the guidance and supervision of – the government. Do they use too much water? Maybe. Is water usage inefficient? Yes – a resounding yes! But it is the JOB of the government to regulate and anticipate and do what is necessary to protect the state and the people from a disaster. They want this job, they get paid for this job – now do it!

California has a history of droughts dating back to 850 A.D. (the earliest recording) in which two droughts lasted 180 and 240 years respectively! Given their were not fossil fuels or ozone depletion or carbon releasing industries polluting the atmosphere during these historical times, it is safe to say these droughts were persistent without blaming ‘climate change’. And in the last 1000 years, 10-20 year droughts have been documented as rather ‘typical’ of the state/area.

And that’s the true problem. Droughts have gone on and on and governors have ignored them – for centuries. Have they built more storage? No. More underground reservoirs? No. Have they built desalinization plants? No. Do they still allocate water to farms that grow nothing? Yes. Do they require lawns to be drought tolerant or rock gardens? No. Half of individual water use is for lawns. But 80% of the water is used for agriculture. For rice paddies in desert land. For growing water absorbing Alfalfa which is mostly exported to China. Almond trees consume 10% of ALL water use – that’s NUTS! And yet they are preserving these cash crops – for hopes of greater $$$ – to the decimation of lower crop values like vegetables. Add to the fray that 60% of almonds are an export crop, its just not practical. Its not about what is best or right – it is about what is going to make me the most money in the quickest time and allow me to high-tail it outa here jack mentality!

So what are farmers doing to make it better? They’re digging deeper and deeper wells, more and more wells, sapping up every last dribble of water that they can without concern for the longer term consequences. And no one is stopping them. In some over-pumped areas, the ground has actually sunk a few dozen feet.

And now California’s government is running around like Chicken Little claiming the sky is falling – when in fact, it already fell. And they have done – nothing!

They take water from Colorado, and run garden hoses to clean debris from their driveway! Grab a broom people! Interesting that Hollywood is silent. How are their expansive gardens doing? Their manicured, lush green? Not a word. So I took the opportunity to see the homes of some of Hollywood’s most famous via ‘google earth’ and was completely – not shocked – to find that they are lush and green. Swimming pools were filled, and lawns were pristine.

So while livelihoods are decimated, Hollywood is immune. In fact, they would seem to believe that they are ‘above’ the plights of the commoner peasant, and they can do whatever they want despite the devastating predicament. Some of the more flagrant decriers of self importance include: Lopez, Kardashian, Streisand, Hefner and West. They would appear to be of the mind that the drought simply does not apply to them and the fine is too ludicrously low to dent their importance. Where are the Hollywood environmentalists; DiCaprio, Redford, Theron, Hanks, Pitt? Well their homes look pretty fine according to Google Earth.

In fact, one water district, Las Virgenes Municipal Water District, which includes many celebrity palaces, states that 70% of their allotment goes to watering just 100 of the posh estates. And while Kardashian gushes that she is a conservationist washing her hair only every five days, she is using thousands of gallons for everything else… Hello?

So where is the Hollywood agenda? The outcry? The action to resolve and create a new, better California equipped to handle any drought that will again wreak havoc in the future? They are silent, because their hypocritical agenda is about talking – not ‘acting’.

The weather media is now claiming that an el-nino will affect California this coming winter with heavy rains. Do you think the folks will simply forget and the government will continue non-business as usual? Of course, always worked in the past.  And if the rains come this winter, well the entire drought will be forgotten and archived.  Until the next time…


DROUGHT – Wake Up! This is NOT New News

Note:  I wrote this commentary over a year ago and find nothing much has changed –  but it might explain the land grabs … just a thought

DROUGHTS HISTORY

California is experiencing a horrific drought. Over 80% of the area is considered at risk. Climatologists – and of course the media – are espousing this as the worst in history. But actually, that ain’t so:

California has a history of droughts dating back to 850 A.D. (the earliest recording) in which two droughts lasted 180 and 240 years respectively! Given there were no fossil fuels or ozone depletion or carbon releasing industries polluting the atmosphere during these historical times, it is safe to say these droughts were persistent without blaming ‘climate change’. And in the last 1000 years, 10-20 year droughts have been documented as rather ‘typical’ of the state/area.

While these droughts can have drastic consequences, they are not uncommon. The real problem is the fact that this commonality has simply not been properly mediated. The government, climatologists, scientists, etc…know its going to happen. It happens all the time. And every single time, they act as though this is the worst, it is the end, it is unusual, it is ‘global warming’, caught off guard. But what has California done to prepare?

Nothing.

And that’s the true problem. Have they built more storage? No. More underground reservoirs? No. Have they built desalinization plants? No. Do they still allocate water to farms that grow nothing? Yes. Do they require lawns to be drought tolerant or rock gardens? No. (Note:  They just implemented this change).  Half of ‘individual’ water use is for lawns. But 80% of the water is used for agriculture. For rice paddies in desert land. For growing water absorbing Alfalfa which is mostly exported to China. Almond trees consume 10% of ALL water use – that’s NUTS! And yet they are preserving these cash crops – for hopes of greater $$$ – to the decimation of lower crop values like vegetables. Add to the fray that 60% of almonds are an export crop, its just not practical. Its not about what is best or right – it is about what is going to make me the most money in the quickest time and allow me to high-tail it outa here jack mentality!

So what are farmers doing to make it better? They’re digging deeper and deeper wells, more and more wells, sapping up every last dribble of water that they can without concern for the longer term consequences. And no one is stopping them. In some over-pumped areas, the ground has actually sunk a few dozen feet.

What is Governor Jerry Brown saying? Why after three years of consecutive drought, he is asking that the 20% users, citizens, voluntarily reduce their consumption by 20%. Honk! JIBE! Ugh. Have they? NO! Surprise. And the farmers are now selling water that is allocated to them for huge profits. Because they can make more money selling the water than irrigating crops.

What would be the economic effects of a prolonged California drought?

  1. Some experts feel the economy would not be impacted much because only 3% of California’s economy is derived from farming. However, that stat does not take into account – people. Nor does it understand the domino effect that drives an economy. No more farms, fewer jobs, more expensive food, restaurants close, small markets close, no more wine, less tourism, and all the support industries begin the domino effect.

  2. People begin mass exodus. Housing falls. Tax revenue falls.

  3. The state splits into factions of the only remaining uber rich – Silicon Valley and Hollywood.

The ripples can then be felt across the country as 50% or more of the nations fruits and vegetables come from California. Mexico, by far, is the greatest source of imported fruits and vegetables. But Mexico’s underground water is on an annual depletion rate. Mostly due to the same perils as the US, Alfalfa.

So the US is not the only country with drought issues and risk. The northern portion of South America, middle Europe, Pakistan, central Australia, western to central Africa, and most of Asia into Japan are all experiencing dramatic droughts.

Where is the rain? Northern Europe, southern South America, eastern US, Afghanistan, Iran, Siberia, Mongolia, southern China, south and western Africa and Colorado (go figure).

Where there is drought – somewhere else there is flooding. The problem is – we have historical reference of these occurrences, and instead of taking action, being pro-active, DOING something, we sit back and blame. Oh, it’s global warming – told ya! But our world weather has shifted continually since the beginning of time. So I guess that would mean global warming has been happening since the beginning of time. Nah. Climates shift. Period. El Nino. El Nano. El fresco… whatever, they move and ebb and flow and move. It is a constant.

But sitting back and blaming global warming does little to nothing about adapting to the continuum of shift. If every single year a tornado ripped your house to shreds, would you just keep rebuilding, or at some point would you say, “hey, maybe this isn’t the best place to build a house…”. Would you year after year build that house from wood sticks or would you build it out of rock?

I know most guys have this abject fear of change. It’s why you wear the same hairdo at 65 that you had when you were 25. “Hey, you liked it then…” But sometimes ‘change’ equates to survival.

“California agriculture is nearly a $36.6 billion dollar industry that generates $100 billion in related economic activity.”

California’s dairy industry generated $47 billion “in economic activity” in 2004 and employed over 400,000 people.”

The largest source of freshwater for central and southern California comes from Colorado. The second largest source is the Sacramento Delta which is polluted with salt water and unusable for most crops. It typically supports grapes and asparagus. A Bill on the floor now proposes to redirect 90% of the delta water to central and southern California at a cost of $25 billion, thereby decimating the grape and asparagus crops… The tension is high! Is it a solution or a bandage? Does the bandage cause more harm than good? Who pays?

But there is another issue; in the US, 25% of fresh fruits and 10% of fresh vegetables are exported out of the country. What if we – didn’t? If we really have a shortage, doesn’t it make sense that the first line of defense is to just stop exporting them? And farmers would save the cost of transportation to Transalvania… And do we really need to be growing rice? It is native to Asia and parts of Africa, if its native, let them do all the watering and growing. Initially, rice paddies were a crop of Georgia, Louisiana, the Carolinas – where it rains – ALL the time. Growing rice in California is like having a banana orchard in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado… Hello? Its like a 90 year old German woman wearing a bikini.

But then you’d have the Feds subsidizing the banana orchard and buying the bikinis. So its free…?

Where’s the Beef? Hopefully, in a climate where it rains a lot because raising cattle is notorious for using the most water – over 2500 gallons per pound. Ugh! Part of that water use is in the diet we demand these cows consume – corn and soy (Monsanto’s favorites) which are two of the highest water consumable plants. Comparable; veggies and fruits consume 1/10th of that per pound of output. Relocate those cows to Arkansas and Missouri, and Tennessee. Let them stand in the rain and eat grass for criminey sake. With an Anaerobic Digestor the methane from manure can provide all the farms energy need and has a huge positive impact on the environment – water, air and soil.

As a people why are we so obsessed in making square pegs fit into round holes?