GOOD: Lake Mead is drying up

Discuss

56 Responses to “GOOD: Lake Mead is drying up”

  1. artbot says:

    Won’t somebody pleeeeease think of the house-boaters?!!

  2. Anonymous says:

    At first glance, the headline on this post makes it appear that Mark is happy about the lake drying up… :-)

  3. Brainspore says:

    Don’t let the name fool you, man. That lake is actually full of WATER. Stupid false advertising.

  4. nosehat says:

    Actually, I would have thought that was BAD, but I’ll try to see it your way.

  5. Water Habitat says:

    I categorically reject your assertion that most of the US is arid and that green parts are heavily settled. Feel fee to attach your Google map as a scientific basis for your justification.

    By saying this, are you asserting this is a continued justification for growing corps in a Californian desert? If so, let’s try a different desert for a while. :)

    By saying this, are you also implying this is a continued justification for the status quo in growing lawns, maintaining golf courses?

    By saying this, are you implying that California (and Nevada) should some day be entitled to a “Water Bail Out” from other states after it uses up its limited water resources? We’ll pass on that, thanks, Sacramento has already gotten its Federal bail out $$ to enable it to continue its deficit State spending.

    Just ♥♥ this time.

  6. Teller says:

    Nevada pop in 1920, 77,000. Today, 2.7 mil. Not counting Steve Wynn’s various fountains.

  7. pewma says:

    I don’t see why they just haven’t created a new form of golf where the whole course is a sand trap. I mean, cheap maintenance, no use of scarce resources and a much more challenging game!

    Bring it on Tiger!

    Besides my sarcasm. I never understood why people choose to live in inhospitable locations and then bitch about their sircumstances. I live close to the mississippi and without fail, every time it floods, the people living in the flood plain complain and want federal funds every time it floods. Don’t live in a FLOOD PLAIN!

  8. Anonymous says:

    Welcome to Australia’s problems Colorado!
    We’ve struggled with this issue for years.

  9. Gaudeamus says:

    It’s a shame that we hear so much out here about Lake Mead and the drought, and it means nothing. I’m going to say right now that a HUGE part of the problem is the way water is managed here. I live in an apartment complex that used to have a pond out front. Only now it’s just got rocks in it. Same where my parents live, in their housing community. We have an entire nature preserve with a garden dedicated to showing the residents here how plants and animals live in the desert, and how we can too.

    It’s crazy to have a green lawn. I live in LAS VEGAS. I shouldn’t be suffering from allergies to things that shouldn’t be out here. I moved out here and my allergies calmed down, only to reignite when more and more people moved here and started bringing “back east” with them. The golfers, I don’t know. I like golf okay but surely they could use astroturf. I mean they SELL it here.

    What galls me the most is the conspicuous usage of water at the casinos. I don’t give a fizzle if this is a tourist town, those tourists are going back home to where they get more rain a year and where they’re possibly not having a drought. Why can the Bellagio use millions of gallons of water for their dancing waters when a high school can’t throw a car wash because we have to conserve? How come some of the casinos *close their pools* at night, rendering it effectively wasted for half the day? (And while this isn’t water related it’s along the same lines: why are the casinos using aluminum cans that they simply refuse to recycle?)

    I’m not going to pretend I want to go live in nature or something. I quite enjoy my lush-ish and decadent-esque life out here where the tourists pay for most everything. At the same time, it seems like people would realize that money can flow and flow and flow but if the water stops then we’re screwed because we can’t drink money.

  10. Teller says:

    But several years of kickass Rocky Mtn snowfall would help.

  11. DWittSF says:

    I’m afraid of how this will impact Golfer’s Rights–y’know, to enjoy a lush green 18-hole championship course…right in the middle of a freakin’ desert!

  12. Daemon says:

    It is good. People will eventually be forced to stop living in a desert while acting as though they live in a temperate zone.

  13. Gaudeamus says:

    HDN thanks for the info. Clearly you know way more than I do about this. I’ve been living out here for a while and watching the way that water gets used and it’s crazy. Perhaps it’s a bit hypocritical as my parents have a pool but they use a solar shield and xeriscape on their property. Then there are some neighbors with a lush, green lawn who water it bunches, even though we have plenty of Astroturf dealers here and seriously, the desert has never really been known (naturally) for lush, green lawns.

    I’ve been to Lake Mead once, in the dark, and we never got out of the car. I’ve heard something about the fish and birth control, but I’ve heard more about bodies. If the lake dried up, wouldn’t that be something to find piles of bodies on the bed?

  14. liamo says:

    Here is a simple agricultural lesson: Don’t build a rice farming infrastructure in an area which doesn’t have the rainfall to support it.

    Rice is one of the worst crops in the world to grow when it comes to water required per kg of food.

  15. JudgeDredd says:

    I just hope this does not lead to a fresh batch of federal laws telling people how to use water. I cannot buy a shower head with decent pressure? Why? I live minutes away from one of the largest sources of fresh water on the planet. Oh, it’s because a bunch of morons decided to live in a desert.

  16. Water Habitat says:

    You can drink your dust and eat your Toyotas, California and Nevada.You will not get a drop from the Great Lakes Basin.

    Go ahead. Continue to water your lawns, golf courses, and rice fields.

  17. breals says:

    The one benefit of the lake dropping in volumne is that it does make once very deep scuba diving sites more accessible.

  18. Gaudeamus says:

    So because I live in Las Vegas you can’t get decent water pressure? I’m sorry. Let’s see if I can work up a tear or failing that, maybe go turn on my high-pressure shower-head and wet my face a little in sympathy.

  19. kaosmonkey says:

    Pat Mulroy, general manager of the Southern Nevada Water Authority, said, “We’ve taken water from the West now for a hundred years, maybe it’s time to start taking water from the East, rather than from the West.”

    ??????

  20. WalterBillington says:

    Oooo Union Carbide – let’s not forget the leakage of “42 tons of toxic methyl isocyanate gas”, killing 26,000+ people. In Bhopal, India. (where? oh yeh.) Did they ever need Erin Brokavich.

    I think they should be kept far AWAY from the water we share.

    With luck, the Blowjobbio will be the last source of running water in the state. Then it too would run out – now that would be a ghost town!

  21. fnc says:

    “Another speculative proposal lies beyond the shores of California, where there’s an ocean of water available for desalinization.”

    Or you could forego using all that energy and let the hydrological cycle bring the clean water to you by storing rainwater.

    I honestly don’t know if rainwater catchment is truly practical, but it sounds like a Very Good Idea in an area that sees enough rain to catch a sizable amount of water. I know those off the grid earthship homes catch all the water they use, and they’re built in the deserts.

    http://www.cnn.com/2009/TECH/04/17/gsif.rainwater.solutions/index.html

  22. WalterBillington says:

    and just linking things – back to the Train Set in a Briefcase http://www.boingboing.net/2009/05/06/train-set-in-a-brief.html

    I note the set with the lake in the background is the “German” set:
    #405A Bavarian Briefcase Layout with Contoller and Train
    Dimensions: 14″ x 19″

    They have another set, the “American” set:
    #0510 American Layout

    The American set has no water apparent in its image. Those funny europeans! But it is much bigger, and I suspect you have to fuel the engines with real diesel fuel rather than plugging it in.

    http://www.marklin.com/scales/z/zlayouts.html

  23. jjasper says:

    Saving the commons from a lack of tragedy, one deregulation at a time!

  24. Roku says:

    Read “Cadillac Desert” by Marc Reisner. It’s a fascinating history of water in the West.

    Nevada actually takes very little water from the Colorado: Colorado and California each take over 10 times more! Even Wyoming gets three times as much.

    California is probably the least water-sustainable state. Neither Los Angeles, nor most California agriculture, would exist at all if it weren’t for the California Aqueduct, containing at least 11 stations that pump water uphill (over a 2000 foot mountain range, in the case of the LA basin.)
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/California_Aqueduct
    This is in addition to California’s unsustainable Colorado River allotment.

  25. EyeSpy Guy says:

    Grass is overrated on golf courses. For an interesting counterpoint feel free to google for images of the Coober Pedy golf course, in Queensland Australia.

    http://images.google.com.au/images?hl=en&safe=off&client=firefox-a&rls=com.ubuntu%3Aen-US%3Aunofficial&um=1&sa=1&q=coober+pedy+golf+course&btnG=Search+Images&aq=f&oq=

  26. nosehat says:

    Bring on the cheap desalinization! Seriously, this is the next technological breakthrough waiting to happen.

  27. amuderick says:

    A few quick searches on the net and you’ll find out how to modify your showerhead to return those great high-pressure showers to your life. I did and I love it…and no, I don’t live in the desert.

  28. EyeSpy Guy says:

    #15 FNC,

    Effectively catching rainwater in low rainfall areas is contingent on the amount of tankage built. For example, certain parts of Western Australia only get an average of a few centimeters of rain a year, but it only rains every three years or so. The cattle stations out that way have huge dams and millions of liters of underground tankage. If it doesn’t rain often, you have to store every drop.

    Citizens in many of the major cities of Australia have been installing rain water tanks at a pretty brisk rate, because water restrictions make watering the garden illegal. You can get quite a lot of water of the roof of a suburban home, and it goes a very long way if you use buried permeable hose to irrigate, rather than surface watering. With effective use of gray water and a a clever selection of plants in the garden a suburban home can just about reduce water consumption to nil. Industry is another story.

    Most regions of Australia have been beset by drought for years*, and this is not going to change any time soon. Here we are seeing tight water restrictions on regional communities with politicians unwilling to make tough choices in regard to cities. This (IMNSHO) is due to the expense and unpopularity of drastic reform of water use. To do it right will cost money and lose votes.

    When the rain stops falling and water becomes a (very) limited resource then conservation becomes immediately important. Every drop saved now will be for ten years down the track. It is too late after the dams are dry and the aquifers empty. At that point you are fucked, mate. Agriculture is impossible, farms die and crops become very expensive.

    It is possible to grow crops with best practices that use a fraction of the current irrigation. None the less, I bet no changes will be made until it is far too late.

    The price of fruit and veg has gone up by more than double in the past two or three years here in Oz. This is what you can look forward to in the USA.

    *Notable exceptions would be all the areas that flooded this year. Worst floods in living memory in many regions of Queensland.

  29. WalterBillington says:

    Desalination also allows harvesting minerals. I recall a documentary in the 80s about magnesium bikeframes (I was young, I have no idea if it worked – but seems a bit hot to me) – that something like 1 cubic metre of water yielded adequate metal for the bike … can’t be right … but the principle is there

  30. Grumblefish says:

    #41 – If I recall correctly, there’s about 1.2g of magnesium per Kg of sea water. So about 1.2 Kg of Mg in a cubic metre of sea water.

    UCI racing bike minimum weight is 6.5Kg, including wheels, etc. but you can get lightweight frames of about 1.2Kg.

    So not implausible…

  31. Anonymous says:

    It’s not just Mead but Lake Powell too.

    There’s an old saying in Colorado that goes “Whiskey’s for drinking, water’s for fighting.”

    Water wars in the west are nothing new but there is something seriously wrong with the whole concept of ‘senior water rights’ that mandate that the upper basin states (Colorado, Wyoming, Utah) have to send x-million acre feet of their water downstream to the lower basin states regardless of existing drought conditions or not.

    Hence these huge and ineffectual dams and resevoirs that lose more than millions of acre-feet of water each year to evaporation and more than twice the annual Las Vegas water consumption to seepage alone. Not to mention silt levels that have built up to the point that threatens to shut down all electrical power generation permenantly.

    The Colorado River Compact of 1922 was seriously flawed from the very beginning and currently there is absolutely no incentive to force people who choose to live in a frickn’ desert to conserve any water whatsoever.

    I’m all for blowing the goddamn things up and letting the river run free again.

  32. Anonymous says:

    @#19 EyeSpy Guy -

    Except in Colorado, catching and storing rain water from your home is illegal since that water is already owned and allocated to others downstream.

    http://boingboing.net/2009/03/18/people-who-use-barre.html

  33. Antinous / Moderator says:

    ♥ Most of the US is arid. Most of the US will not grow crops without irrigation. Many of the parts of the US that have water have a short growing season. Before you say ‘don’t move to the desert’, take a look at Google Earth.

    ♥ Citing historical droughts is disingenuous. The amount of water available for 100 million people is irrelevant to the amount of water available for 300 million people.

  34. dainel says:

    If you cover the lake with plastic, will it reduce evaporation? How much “additional” water will that produce?

  35. Hawkviper says:

    http://www.arachnoid.com/NaturalResources/

    Perhaps it would be more apt to say that Lake Mead is drying up again, for the fourth time?

  36. Moriarty says:

    It’s always seemed rather absurd to me that a coastal state needs to get so much of its water from the desert next door. What we need is an expansion in water recycling and desalinization. There is NO fundamental reason everyone on the planet can’t have more clean water than they could possibly use. Most of the planet is covered in the stuff, and it’s 100% recyclable. It’s so abundant and so renewable that until now we’ve gotten by almost entirely on the water that literally falls out of the sky on top of us.

  37. Baldhead says:

    So, it’s returning to normal, then. The issue is, basically, that people are idiots who think that green lawns are a right, not a function of the local climate. Hell they started as a way for the rich to thumb their nose at the poor (“see, I have all this land and I won’t grow any food on it!”)

    I don’t see a non- government solution. People frequently have to be forced to use common sense.

  38. O_M says:

    …ISTR either Dow Chemical or Union Carbide were trying to develop a thin spray-on evaporation inhibitor that would cover the top surface of a large body of water, but the hippie treehuggers protested the idea and the idea was shelved. Looks like we need it after all.

  39. Anonymous says:

    Lake Mead may have other problems as well. A few years back, a LV resident in the know told me that male fish in Lake Mead were laying eggs due to contraceptives being flushed down the drain and screwing with their hormones. I’m not sure if it’s true, but I do wonder were processed sewage from Las Vegas goes.

  40. FoetusNail says:

    People who use barrels to catch rain from their roofs breaking law, says State of Colorado

    And BTW, the Colorado River no longer runs to the sea; the river now ends in a stagnant dead zone of foul water.

  41. Water Habitat says:

    Citing this “Many of the parts of the US that have water have a short growing season” as an argument for diverting water to the Southwest is disingenuous and not a justification to live and grow crops in a desert.

    Citing historical droughts is NOT disingenuous. It is a valid factor, among others, in determining whether to live and grow crops in a desert.

    Any shortfall caused by not growing crops in a Californian desert can be made up by growing more corps in less arid parts of the U.S. and “importing” the rest. We learned the “importing” lesson from Californians in particular.

    Those that portend to be environmentally conscious and lecture others in a smug manner but engage in disgustingly wasteful use of water, amuse me.

    I give that ♥♥♥♥

    • Antinous / Moderator says:

      Any shortfall caused by not growing crops in a Californian desert can be made up by growing more corps in less arid parts of the U.S. and “importing” the rest.

      So just pass the water shortage to the rest of the world? That’s nice. Without California produce, a quarter of the US population would be living on parsnips for half the year. Bon appetit.

  42. spazzm says:

    Why can the Bellagio use millions of gallons of water for their dancing waters when a high school can’t throw a car wash because we have to conserve?

    Because the Bellagio is rich and the highschool is poor?
    Free enterprise FTW!

    Coober Pedy is in South Australia, not Queensland, Eyespy Guy.

    Personally, I think that if all golfers were to suddenly drop dead from bowel cancer, the world would be better off.

  43. MikeKStar says:

    It’s not just Mead but Lake Powell too.

    There’s an old saying in Colorado that goes “Whiskey’s for drinking, water’s for fighting.”

    Water wars in the west are nothing new but there is something seriously wrong with the whole concept of ‘senior water rights’ that mandate that the upper basin states (Colorado, Wyoming, Utah) have to send x-million acre feet of their water downstream to the lower basin states regardless of existing drought conditions or not.

    Hence these huge and ineffectual dams and resevoirs that lose millions of acre-feet of water each year to evaporation and more than twice the annual Las Vegas water consumption to seepage alone. Not to mention silt levels that have built up behind the dams to the point that it threatens to shut down all electrical power generation permenantly.

    The Colorado River Compact of 1922 was seriously flawed from the very beginning and currently there is absolutely no incentive to force people who choose to live in a frickn’ desert to conserve any water whatsoever.

    I’m all for blowing the goddamn things up and letting the river run free again.

  44. Anonymous says:

    at #17 Coober Pedy is in South Australia, also known as the driest state in the driest nation!

  45. spazzm says:

    And BTW, the Colorado River no longer runs to the sea; the river now ends in a stagnant dead zone of foul water.

    You know, if I was Mexico I’d be a bit peeved about that.

  46. EyeSpy Guy says:

    #26 SPAZZM,

    Quite right. Coober Pedy In SA. I knew that. I really did. <.<;

  47. HDN says:

    As a native to the Vegas area, I’ve got some ideas; blame farmers in the desert. Las Vegans? We’re not using that much water. Nevada’s take from the CRC is near nothing compared to all the others, re: 1920′s population figures. Low pop. = low political wattage.

    As a boater; Lake Mead sucks, don’t go there. It’s all mud. You’ll hate it. Might foul your prop. Really.

    As a pipefitter, I say bring on the desal plants and the requisite power plants to power them.

    It bears repeating; again as a boater stay away from Lake Mead.

    FYI: Las Vegas sewage goes back to Lake Mead via the sewage treatment plant, where they clean the hell out of it, then down the Las Vegas Wash, under Lake Las Vegas in monster pipes to the lake. It’s illegal here to pump your pool into the street, they want it dumped in the sewer.

    Bellagio can use all the water they want because they bought ground water rights. They also closed a golf course on that site, IIRC. And that water; not clean, I didn’t build on that project, but I think it’s grey water.

    Regarding fish hormones I’ll check with a Fish and Game biologist I know who’s doing some endangered fish program. See what he says.

  48. ToddBradley says:

    That article’s title and content are a bit misleading. Lake Mead isn’t a lake, it’s a reservoir. Saying it’s “drying up” implies that it’s some sort of natural thing that we don’t have control over. In reality, the level of the reservoir is almost solely determined by the Bureau of Reclamation, who decide how much water to let out of Lake Powell (which – you guessed it – also isn’t a lake, but a reservoir) upstream.

  49. MikeKStar says:

    Here’s something else that most people don’t realize: recreational boating on Lake Powell and Lake Mead dumps the equivalent of an Exxon Valdez oil spill into the water every 4 1/2 years.

  50. MikeKStar says:

    @#32 ToddBradley

    The “thing that we don’t have control over” is not the release of water from Powell but from the fact that the entire Colorado River ssytem is drastically over-allocated and cannot sustain the current levels of consumption.

    Both Powell and Mead will eventually dry up as more and more water is taken out of the system than can be replenished.

    Prolonged drought conditions – which has been determined to be more the norm rather than the exception, will only hasten the process.

  51. Water Habitat says:

    No not really, just importing from areas where sustainable agriculture is a reality.

    Amusing how you ascribe so much self importance to California. What makes you think that crops cannot be grown in other more suitable areas in or outside of the U.S. Why a Californian desert? Is the soil somehow magic? Longer growing season? HA!

    Thanks, I’ll chose to live on parsnips as you say. :) Keep on your current trajectory of water use (or misuse) and we’ll see how things develop over the next decade.

    We have water, you need it to sustain your wasteful unsustainable life style and business model, but we have none to share.

    Still feeling smug?

    Another ♥♥♥♥

    • Antinous / Moderator says:

      Given that most of the US is arid and that the green parts are heavily settled, where precisely do you plan to do this farming? Mow down forests?

  52. Anonymous says:

    Water use that is far more scandalous, because it returns radioactive water to the pristine sources, rivers and oceans.

    A two reactor set like IP sucks up Four Olympic sized swimming pools a second.

    Two hundred and fifty (250) a minute.

    With 3 square miles of solar collectors you can replace one nuclear reactor and save the water, the planet, and life on earth.

  53. Schorsch says:

    Low-flow toilets, low pressure faucets, and rainwater harvesting are all good stuff in the desert, but fundamentally they’re a way to distract people from the real problem.

    Farming uses 80-90% of a desert community’s water. Golf courses, green lawns, and flushing use a small proportion, but get all the attention. Why? Because of the federal funds shoveled at rice (rice!) and cotton farmers in the desert, which trickles back as lobbying funds to politicians.

    Stop the expensive, useless desert farming, and water problems disappear.

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