Posted 3/1/2014 16:05 (#3725347 - in reply to #3724192) Subject: RE: California - drought or flood?
Maybe in a perfect world with few restrictions and an endless supply of money the water needs of urban areas might be taken care of. But the perfect world scenario does not apply to California.
The idea of desalinization is nothing new in California. If interested read this report. Currently a "large" desalinization plant at Carlsbad is being built and will deliver 50 million gallons of water per day at a rate I understand to be around $1000 per acre feet which is in the ballpark for some of the very high end Cailfornia crops. But that is with a distribution of only a few miles.
Consider that if we (our little family farm) have half of our measly 1000 water district acres being sprinkled we will use 3,000,000+- gallons per day. So if 15+ small farms like us call for water we will use the entire output of the Carlsbad plant for 10 days of irrigation 2 times....and we are not heavy water users during the growth period.
Californai has (had) 81,000 farms with just over 300 acre average. That's 24,300,000 acres. If each one uses a measly 2 acre feet that's 48,600,000 acre feet. At a cleaning cost of $1000 A/F (This does not include delivery) that is $48,600,000,000. Granted there still is some ground water and stream deliveries in a few spots of the state and I have no idea what the breakdown is but let's say all we need in desalinated water to cover ag needs is 25%. Then the cost would only be $12,150,000,000 for 6,075,000 acres or roughly a quarter of the $45,000,000,000 of Claifornias' crop value. Or the entire value of those 6,075,000 farms
If these 6,075,000 are calling for .17 feet (or roughly 2 inches of water) on an irrigation that's a need of 1,032,750 acre feet and lets say they irrigate for 10 days that's a need of 103,275 acre feet a day when needed or the output of 660+- Carlsbads per day.
OK so when not needed they can store it in our reservoirs so, let's say, 365 days they are going to pump into the reservoirs to fill the 2 acre feet per year need for those 6,000,000 farms. They only have to pump 1000MGD (or 20+- Carlsbads) to fill the reservoirs for 25% of California Ag needs. Doable someday but when we consider the hundreds of miles of piping it will be a LONGGGG time away.
PHEW....my brain is DEAD. I remember now the look on my high school math teachers face when I turned in a test!! Ya'll with better math skills than I can recheck my math (and probably find a lot of "my bads"). Besides there is a mix a factual and hypothetical here with a LOT of 0's so the figures end up being hypothetical.
The point is, as BenD said, California is a huge state with severe drought problems and desalinization, as good a technology as it is, CANNOT add anything now or in the near future to California's ag water problem. To the cities, yes. To the farmers no. That puts us back to where we are now.