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Posts Tagged ‘drought’

SpiroFlo covers how much water it takes to grow various crops.

I’ve long since raged on the U.S.’ agricultural use of water, especially since we grow most of our food in the desert (California)—a plan that would cause you to lose in “Sim City.” But I recently stumbled across this infographic from Business Insider:

waterforcrops_final

Okay, once I got over the water vacuum horror of oranges, I thought about how teeny one little nut is and how many there are in a bag (call it 16 ounces):

Take walnuts: You get 7 walnuts per ounce (14 if you’re going with halves, because I can do elementary math). That’s 112 walnuts per bag, so nearly 550 gallons of water is needed to grow the crops for one bag of walnuts.

Then look at almonds: Sure, they’re less than 20% of the water used to make walnuts, but they’re much smaller. You get 23 almonds per ounce—so 368 almonds per bag, making for nearly 405 gallons of water needed to grow the crops for one bag of almonds.

Good for maybe a small handful of walnuts...

Good for maybe a small handful of walnuts…

With droughts continuing (California is in year four of their current stretch by the way, and even a wetter El Niño season won’t reverse the dry trend), am I the only one who seriously questions how we continue to grow food?

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Colin McKay Miller is the VP of Marketing for the SpiroFlo Holdings group of companies:

SpiroFlo for residential hot water savings (delivered 35% faster with up to a 5% volume savings on every hot water outlet in the home), industrial water purification (biofilm removal), and reduced water pumping costs.

Vortex Tools for extending the life of oil and gas wells (recovering up to 10 times more NGLs, reducing flowback startup times, replacing VRUs, eliminating paraffin and freezing in winter, etc.).

Ecotech for cost-effective non-thermal drying (for coal, biosolids, sugar beets, dairy waste, etc.) and safe movement of materials (including potash and soda ash).

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A year old, but still good (photo credit):

FireHazard

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Colin McKay Miller is the VP of Marketing for the SpiroFlo Holdings group of companies:

SpiroFlo for residential hot water savings (delivered 35% faster with up to a 5% volume savings on every hot water outlet in the home), industrial water purification (biofilm removal), and reduced water pumping costs.

Vortex Tools for extending the life of oil and gas wells (recovering up to 10 times more NGLs, reducing flowback startup times, replacing VRUs, eliminating paraffin and freezing in winter, etc.).

Ecotech for cost-effective non-thermal drying (for coal, biosolids, sugar beets, dairy waste, etc.) and safe movement of materials (including potash and soda ash).

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Came across the following image on the Weather Channel’s Twitter today.

As of the start of the year, the exceptional drought rate of California made up a third of the state (32%). Now five months on, that exceptional drought rate is up to 47% (pretty much the middle of the state). Maybe it’s time to revisit some of those warnings from earlier on in the year again:

CA drought WC

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Colin McKay Miller is the VP of Marketing for the SpiroFlo Holdings group of companies:

SpiroFlo for residential hot water savings (delivered 35% faster with up to a 5% volume savings on every hot water outlet in the home), industrial water purification (biofilm removal), and reduced water pumping costs.

Vortex Tools for extending the life of oil and gas wells (recovering up to 10 times more NGLs, reducing flowback startup times, replacing VRUs, eliminating paraffin and freezing in winter, etc.).

Ecotech for cost-effective non-thermal drying (for coal, biosolids, sugar beets, dairy waste, etc.) and safe movement of materials (including potash and soda ash).

 

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SpiroFlo reports on California’s recent commentary regarding the state’s water shortage.

Admittedly, when I see people legitimately sharing serious information on April Fools’ Day I get squinting real good, but this commentary from Californian water officials popped up before that marker:

On March 13th, senior water scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Jay Famiglietti, wrote an article for the LA Times where he hypothesized that California’s state reservoirs only have one year of water remaining.

Not surprisingly, your Average Joe took this to mean that California will run out of water in a year, but Famiglietti denied that he made that statement. He clarified that A) reservoirs are not the only source of water to the state (there’s still groundwater); and B) reservoirs are designed to only hold a few years’ worth of water anyway.

The big problem is that the title of Famiglietti’s op-ed was “California has about one year of water stored. Will you ration now?” It didn’t matter that the content had a different tone. The article was titled as clickbait and it spread rapidly. However, maybe it’s the effect of The Onion in our modern media consumption, but people took in punchline of the title, not the full story of the text.

Thus came a wave of defenses from California state officials, letting people know that California will not run out of water in 2016. I’m sure some took this to mean that there’s no drought issue whatsoever (but that joke still sucks the other 364 days of the year).

While I can appreciate that some of this has to do with the sad truth that the speed of media travels faster than the speed of truth these days (get your article out before anyone else, fact checking be damned), there are some unfortunate truths that haven’t got the clickbait titles they deserve:

California is now in its fourth year of drought. This has led to overpumping of groundwater reserves (now a decade strong) and it’s getting costlier to get the water out the deeper they have to go.

CA groundwater

In addition:

The Department of Water Resources did not have a readily available estimate of the total water supply in California or the amount expected to be used over the next year.

Just because California is not exhausting its water supply “doesn’t mean we’re not in a crisis,” said Leon Szeptycki, executive director of the Water in the West program at Stanford University, who called the state’s snowpack, at 12% of average, “both bad for this year but also a troubling sign for the future.”

Then there’s that whole bit of growing the nation’s food supply in the desert…

While some believe that people will police their own water use (unlikely) and that the government will step in before the point of water getting shut off in homes (hopefully), no matter the headline, it’s an ugly road ahead. No matter where you look, there’s a critical water shortage looming. California is just highlighting the issue.

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Colin McKay Miller is the VP of Marketing for the SpiroFlo Holdings group of companies:

SpiroFlo for residential hot water savings (delivered 35% faster with up to a 5% volume savings on every hot water outlet in the home), industrial water purification (biofilm removal), and reduced water pumping costs.

Vortex Tools for extending the life of oil and gas wells (recovering up to 10 times more NGLs, reducing flowback startup times, replacing VRUs, eliminating paraffin and freezing in winter, etc.).

Ecotech for cost-effective non-thermal drying (for coal, biosolids, sugar beets, dairy waste, etc.) and safe movement of materials (including potash and soda ash).

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Mt_Tabor_Park_reservoir_-_Portland_OregonSpiroFlo covers Portland’s decision to drain 38 million gallons of water after a teenager urinated in the reservoir.

Place your hands on your stomach.

You, my friend, are holding a biological weapon—enough to disrupt a year’s worth of drinking water for over 655,000 people.* We know this because a 19-year-old teenager recently peed in the Portland reservoir and the city has decided to drain all 38 million gallons from Reservoir 5 at Mt. Tabor Park:

The risk to the public would have been slight if the urination had gone unnoticed, but water bureau administrator David Shaff said the water bureau “won’t serve purposely tainted drinking water to the public.”

“Our customers have an expectation that their water is not deliberately contaminated. We have the ability to meet that expectation while minimizing public health concerns,” Shaff said in a statement.

While “the solution to pollution is dilution” is not a statement I’m a fan of, it does apply here. I get it; it’s gross some idiot peed in there, but let’s face it, this isn’t the first person to pee into Mt. Tabor Park. Hey look, it isn’t: in 2011, they drained nearly 8 million gallons of drinking water over the same thing. While we’re dealing with the reality of a critical water shortage in 2020, they can’t wait on a water test coming back as good enough.

EDIT: A commenter noted that they water was scheduled to be drained and the reservoir cleaned in three weeks anyway. 

What do I mean by good enough? Is now a bad time to mention:

  • Wildlife poops in the water!
  • Bugs die in the water!
  • Fish have sex in the water! Crazy gross fish sex!
  • And we’re still learning about this ickyness

All this is to say, most sane people recognize why this is a bad idea, but whatever. Enjoy your safe, poopy, dead bug, fish sex water.

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*38 million gallons divided by the 54 gallons of water a year average consumed per person.

Colin McKay Miller is the VP of Marketing for the SpiroFlo Holdings group of companies:

SpiroFlo for residential hot water savings (delivered 35% faster with up to a 5% volume savings on every hot water outlet in the home), industrial water purification (biofilm removal), and reduced water pumping costs.

Vortex Tools for extending the life of oil and gas wells (recovering up to 10 times more NGLs, reducing flowback startup times, replacing VRUs, eliminating paraffin and freezing in winter, etc.).

Ecotech for cost-effective non-thermal drying (for biosolids, sugar beets, dairy waste, etc.) and safe movement of materials (including potash and soda ash).

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Vortex Tools looks at the damage done to and from the oil and gas industry during the Colorado flood, as well as why this industry is often unfairly targeted during catastrophic events.

Last time I wrote about the Colorado flood and how it didn’t help the reserve levels in Lakes Mead and Powell (short version: it’d have to flood like that for nearly a year to make up the decades of drought).

Although the 24-hour news cycle went rampaging off to the latest event, there’s still massive amounts of cleanup to do in Boulder County. A woman I know has a fiancé in Lyons (an hour-and-a-half northwest of Denver). They don’t have power there and won’t restore it until the water is out and everything is dry. With limited access, workers (and residents) can’t even get in to start the process. It’ll likely be Christmas before it’s done.

Christmas. Three-and-a-half months after the initial flooding. Could you survive that long without going home or to work?

Now here’s what didn’t happen: No one logically grilled the builders of these homes and businesses for these structures getting overwhelmed by a raging body of water that unexpectedly shows up once every thousand years. No one logically went after road makers and bridge builders when they literally broke off from the force of the flood.

Why? Because most sane people get that you can’t build around rare, catastrophic events.

Sure, it’s an engineer’s dream to build a structure that would hold up to Godzilla or Mothra (clearly not both, that’d be nuts), but it’s not feasible or affordable on a widespread level.

Yet the oil and gas industry isn’t afforded that same understanding.

I get it. I work on the green side of oil and gas: reducing the environmental impact of flares and harmful CO2 vapors, recovering 10 times more natural gas liquids than conventional methods, etc., but being around the unreasonable brand of environmentalism long enough, I know their thinking. I hear the comments on how the U.S. should quit our oil addiction (coupled with an image of an evil, yet delightfully ripped Uncle Sam jamming a needle full of crude in his arm).

Oh yes, he will wear (patriotic) white after Labor Day

Oh yes, he will wear (patriotic) white after Labor Day

This is where I start asking for items—smart phones, glasses—that wouldn’t be possible without the plastic made from oil and gas. I offer to take a sledgehammer to the plastic parts of their Priuses and mountain bikes so that they can remain principled, but thus far, no one has taken me up on the offer or allowed me to pawn off their iPhone.

Still, there’s a valid question as to the damage done to and from the Colorado oil and gas market as a result of the flood.

These are actually some scary stats: Thus far, 43,000 gallons of oil have been reported to be in or near the South Platte River. As 20% of the fields in the Wattenberg Basin have yet to be examined, other problem areas will likely arise. Before the flood hit, oil and gas companies in the area raced to shut in nearly 1,900 oil and gas wells to prevent damage both to their production and the surrounding areas. Noble Energy is reported to take a hit of $7 to $17 million from lost production and flood damage, but the final tally is not yet in.

Officials from the Oil and Gas Conservation Commission think that, with the flood and road damage, it’ll take about 90 days to repair—so pretty much the same reparation timeline that everyone else is forced to work with.

This is the type of pain point no one wanted (save the types of people who never want to see a good catastrophe go to waste). Everything in the area got affected by the flood, and yes, everything includes oil and gas. So why are they specifically targeted?

Because no one likes a dirty industry making money.

The perception of the oil and gas is that it’s a rich industry. Sure, it makes billions, but the overall net profit margin is low because it also spends billions to capture those values. Of the 215 total industries, major integrated oil and gas comes in at #114 with 6.2% net profit margin. Drilling and exploration does better at a 9.9% (placing at #60), but overall, oil and gas is not the flush industry that should be hit up before all others with more taxes and fewer subsidies. If there is such a slot, it belongs to Closed-End Fund Equity with an 81% net profit margin.

Still, some are using the damage from the flood to move against the oil and gas industry: “Researchers from the University of Colorado studying how to limit the natural gas industry’s impact on the environment and communities are collecting soil samples along the river looking for evidence of benzene, a carcinogen, and benzene compounds, left behind by the spilled oil.”

If you’re going to play around in a fantasy land of no negative consequences in moving away from the energy resources generated by oil and gas, you might as well project how much time and money could’ve been saved from not flooding, but this is the reality we get to deal with.

Sigh. Looks like I’ve got some university Priuses and mountain bikes to smash.

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Colin McKay Miller is the VP of Marketing for the SpiroFlo Holdings group of companies:

SpiroFlo for residential hot water savings (delivered 35% faster with up to a 5% volume savings on every hot water outlet in the home), industrial water purification (biofilm removal), and reduced water pumping costs.

Vortex Tools for extending the life of oil and gas wells (recovering up to 10 times more NGLs, reducing flowback startup times, replacing VRUs, eliminating paraffin and freezing in winter, etc.).

Ecotech for cost-effective non-thermal drying (for biosolids, sugar beets, dairy waste, etc.) and safe movement of materials (including potash and soda ash).

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Some of the damage done to Jamestown, CO

SpiroFlo looks at the how much impact the 2013 Colorado flood had on drought levels in the area.

It’s a bit of a strange time in Colorado. We were supposed to have the two driest years on record, Denver Water was enforcing water restrictions for the stage-two drought, and there were record-breaking highs over the summer.

And then it rained. A lot. As in a whole year’s worth in one week a lot.

Schools shut down; homes and businesses flooded out. It became easier to take a canoe around certain towns and people had to call and ask, likely for the first time, “Do I have flood insurance?” Odds are most did not, as insurance companies aren’t even allowed to provide flood insurance to places that aren’t normally at risk of flooding—you know, like a land-locked state that was about 14 years into its latest drought.

The hard numbers (as of today): 19,000 homes damaged (1,500 destroyed), 11,000 people evacuated, six confirmed dead, and 500 still unaccounted for (though not necessarily considered missing). If it were a snow storm, it would’ve been a 15-foot event (and I’ve seen this state shut down and struggle with three).

So what happened? While I’m sure there was the occasional climate Nostradamus who saw it coming, there wasn’t a widely noted, credible source that figured a thousand-year flood would bust on into this year. I’ve seen a couple of recent articles debunking climate change (again) and there will likely be a swift series of rebuttals again (again), but regardless of what some on both sides want you to believe, the evidence for or against climate change is not so open and shut (though the phrase ‘global warming’ has fallen out of favor).

Still, I’m not sure what to think here. Can you argue that the heavy drought and the heavy rainfall both come from climate change? I’m sure some will, whereas others will likely focus on an anomaly like a thousand-year flood being just that—a data point not normally found on the chart. Does it make it less valid—I mean, we apparently have a term for it because it’s happened before—or simply far more limited in relevance?

Here’s something to think about: It’s been so dry that the Colorado River hasn’t reached the ocean in years. Lakes Mead and Powell—they’ve been at half-capacity for a long while, 100 feet below what they should be (thanks to a dry period from 2000-2009 and drought issues stemming back to the eighties). The lakes have mostly sat below the drought line and are continuing to etch closer to the critical shortage line with our growing population consuming water at a rate that will exhaust the reserves. This critical shortage is that line where hydropower falls apart and they stop giving water to states like Nevada.

Oh yeah, this critical shortage is scheduled for 2020—less than seven years from now.

Surely the flood must have helped there, right? Want to place your bets on how many feet the flood restored to that 100-foot drop?

Two.

Here’s the thing: simply because we had a flood, that doesn’t mean the water went in the right area. It’s not as if Colorado is a glass that water has slowly been evaporating out of for years and then someone casually came and filled it back up. This rainfall was more like a toddler trying to aim a wild fire hose. Even if the water was in the general area, that doesn’t mean it was going where it should, and the consensus is that the rain fell on the wrong side of the Rockies. Even when it did fall on the right areas, it was too much, and everything was essentially on drain mode to prevent flood damage.

Lake Mead: July 2009

So two of 100 feet have been restored. That means it’d have to flood like this for nearly a year to restore the drought loss to Lakes Mead and Powell. It shouldn’t be a surprise, but you can’t restore decades’ worth of damage from one mad week of rain (and one big snow season won’t help either). This would mean anomalies like this thousand-year flood do get to stand as is, because they’re overwhelmed by all the dry years that leave us still facing that critical shortage in 2020. You can predict critical shortage dates for other parts of the world, too, but it’s the same story—with our growing population, we’re consuming water at a rate that will exhaust the reserves.

This means that my interest in what’s to blame—climate change damage or not—is vastly overshadowed by the reality that this water crisis (which is still far undervalued) is not our grandchildren’s problem, but ours.

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Colin McKay Miller is the VP of Marketing for the SpiroFlo Holdings group of companies:

SpiroFlo for residential hot water savings (delivered 35% faster with up to a 5% volume savings on every hot water outlet in the home), industrial water purification (biofilm removal), and reduced water pumping costs.

Vortex Tools for extending the life of oil and gas wells (recovering up to 10 times more NGLs, reducing flowback startup times, replacing VRUs, eliminating paraffin and freezing in winter, etc.).

Ecotech for cost-effective non-thermal drying (for biosolids, sugar beets, dairy waste, etc.) and safe movement of materials (including potash and soda ash).

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