Thursday, December 10, 2009

Strapped for water - you wonder why...?

I have been looking at this issue for a few years. And like everything that is important to protect - we humans neglect because, well, I have yet to understand! I have been thinking that really it has something to do with the 'peacock' in all of us. All show and no 'go'!

The peacock or peafowl is from India. I have read and heard that some Indian tigers used to hunt these birds... not very sporting, I suppose, but maybe it was because they pissed the tigers off. Being all, 'I prettier then YOU!' and 'I don't have to hide from tigers cause I am -THIS BIG-!' or 'I don't have to have a beautiful voice because I look like- voooosh - THIS! NANNY NAH NAH!' ROAR! yummmm.... And like tigers and peacocks - nature get us back.

People liked the birds and revered them. Saw their gods in their feathers and riding on their backs. People did not like tigers. They saw their neighbors and children and farm animals mauled by them. The tiger is now, nearly gone but the peacocks have multiplied and made themselves nuisances in far away places such as in Los Angeles and Orange Counties. Now, if only there was a bigger creature out there that would fall in love with humans and their outrageous consumptive aptitudes and our ability to throw up our hands like the peacock and say, 'I didn't do it! It happened all by itself!' But... we don't. We try the peacock thing with each other and some folks fall for it. Most just keep eating.

So. Here we are. In a very serious drought situation. We really do know what to do but, we won't. Agencies like the CIty of Pasadena tell folks to only water their lawns once a week. I don't have a problem with this announcement - but, it is seen by the majority of people as only temporary - to morrow they will turn the streets into Slip-and-slides. Then other folks, who are the Water Problem Deniers say, that it's the water agencies fault and they are only lining their pockets and raising rates because we aren't buying enough water.

Here is a little video of our aquifer - where we store our water in the San Gabriel Valley. It is said this the aquifer under the San Gabriel River supplies only a million people... the water comes from rain and snow melt from the mountains behind it, MWD adds its water (Colorado, Owens, Sacramento Delta), and the rain the permeates the ground directly.

In 2004, we were in the last year of a six year, drought. I flew over the 'Durbin Pit' next to the 605 freeway for the video, Ya Don't Miss the Water (you can watch it by clicking the links on the right). Here is a clip showing the pit. Look at the size of this pit and realize there are several other monstrous pits in the area. The water you see in the pit is actually the top of the water table of the San Gabriel Valley Aquifer. Be aware of the depth by what you see at the sides of the pit.

IN 2005 we had a 100 year storm in the San Gabriel Mountains, which means that the mountains received more rain then on 'average years' and was near the 'record' for rain about 100 years ago. It's not really a very accurate method for measurement, but it is used by various agencies and insurance companies to mark, with a broad stroke, where normal rain fall is to 'more then normal' rain fall. Insurance companies use it to increase your flood insurance if you buy a house in areas deemed in the 50 to 100 year flood zone (delineated by marks left by older storms in soils, vegetation, rocks and/or described by records and finally, by looking the depth of the land to sea level (water flows down stream and pools in depressions).

I have been photographing the river and the mountains and looking for changes. Here is the San Gabriel Dam (north of Morris) following Route 38). TOo see differences check out my older posts.

This is what the San Gabriel Dam looked like November 26 of this year. First, looking north and uphill... Then, look at the next photo from that day and notice the ridges formed by erosion when the water was at higher levels... Can you see the grasses poking up in the center? You can see the bottom of the dam.

And now, here is a video of the Durbin Pit from a ridge looking over into the pit from the north east side...

What all of this says is that now, right now!! this time....we have REALLY created for ourselves a huge pile of doody for ourselves. One that we may not be able to fix or create work-arounds. Not watering our lawns but once a week is a really VERY pathetic reaction to this drought by the water agencies. What we need to do is re-evaluate at how all of us use our water everyday - including corporations that use the water and who decides to expose our aquifer to the air and thereby... increasing the loss of our drinking water by evaporation by the hundreds of acre-feet. (Why people are NOT screaming here is beyond me...) And, we have to re-evaluate how we build our cities here in the West (and other places now that the Locomotive, Climate Change is starting to pull out of the station). We can no longer think we can keep adding to our population without changing where we live and what we live in... no more - everyone gets a house, anymore.

And by the way... as the video ends... notice the size of the cars on the 605 freeway and see the pile of concrete that was used by the PIT DIGGERS to shore of the side of the pit. It will not be long before the 605 Freeway will be driving INTO the pit. The mud pit by then... maybe what? next year?

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