Monthly Archives: October 2010

Clearly I made the wrong choice.

Sorry it has been so sparse around here. I’ve been reading the news, but I’ve not had a ton to say. I’m trying to develop past my few themes of “putting the drought into context”, “Westlands’ political maneuvering”, and “how people rationalize and express their self-interest.” I’m not intentionally trying to move past my theme of mocking economists, but I figure I need to pony up my explicit objections to using economics to understand water before I start making fun of these. Anyway, I’m around, watching and waiting until I have new thoughts.

In the meantime, I like this article for illuminating how a water district and a city planning commission are interacting. The water district is considerably further along in the process of adjusting to water scarcity. They’ve probably gone through an attempt at securing a next supply of water, and realized that finding the next chunk is more daunting than asking people to stop growing lawns (and it comes with its own political challenge of raising rates). Further, they are aware that last year, the California legislature required that cities pass ordinances this year about new landscapes that are at least as stringent as DWR’s Model Ordinance. They’ve had a year to sulk and adjust to it.

The planning commission doesn’t seem to have that same familiarity with the concepts of water scarcity. The two members that serve on the water committee, Taylor and Patin, have adjusted to a world of imminent shortage. But the others adamantly don’t want it to be so. They say that you should be able to plant your lawn if you are willing to pay lots of money for it. But I’d bet the water district knows that it is really difficult to secure a next good chunk of water, even with dollars in hand. I much enjoyed Noyer’s analysis, that:

If conservation is your only method of managing a finite water supply, you’re going to run out, Noyer remarked, adding that he found the covenant requirement [restricting front lawns], “objectionable.”

Actually, Mr. Noyer, you have already run out of water for the foreseeable demands. That’s why the district has become comfortable with conservation, rather than proposing to buy another contract with the State Water Project or drilling another well. I’m not sure why he posits an infinite water supply as the default. His next statement makes it seems as if he thinks he is entitled to an existence without physical limits on resources because of his past military service.

The bottom line for Noyer, “I didn’t serve my country for six years to be told what kind of plant I can have in my yard.”

Presumably he served his country for six years for some purpose that rewarded him at the time of his enrollment, as well as pay during his service. You might think the debt society owes him for his military service was paid at the time. But perhaps his military service has been even more useful to him ever since, since it can be pulled out to inure him from any of the compromises that a complex society facing increasing scarcity must make. It makes me long for past military service, so I could say things like, ‘I didn’t serve my country for six years so a colored light could tell me when to stop and go.” or “I didn’t serve my country for six years so that uniformed goons could force me to partially disrobe every time I fly.” Sadly, I paid my six years to grad school instead of military service, so I am still subject to laws that balance out the mixed interests of society. What was I thinking?


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I’m back.

Hey friends.  I’m back.  I had a wonderful time and took pictures for you.  I was in Cappadocia for a bit, where they have the good sense to draw the dams in their guides to the region.

A trifle misleading, since it might almost be a sketch of an arch dam.

This cuts down on the number of times they have to tell tourists where to find local dams. Sadly, when we got there, it was an earthen dam, which is a good honest dam but perhaps not so glamorous. Not much in the way of Art Deco angels, if you catch my drift.

Pretty basic. Water way down; maybe that's normal for October.

The PLF would have liked it, though, because if there was a hint of downstream flow or water releases for fish, I didn’t see it. No gates, no temperature control device, nothing but a big empty spillway that I climbed out onto. When am I going to get another chance to climb a spillway? It formed a rather pretty lake, except for the bathtub ring, but isn’t that always the way?

Looks like the American west. Maybe all irrigated lands look the same.

I didn’t see canals, although they must have been there. I saw the most basic of earthen ditches. I assumed they were drainage, but could be wrong. But they were irrigating fields kilometers miles from the dam, so they must have been moving water somehow. Saw a lot of pipe

Modern house, with pipe.

, and some sprinklers.

Alfalfa? Can't tell. Spacing is uneven, by modern standards. They could get efficiency gains from spacing improvements.

If they were running furrows, they were doing it on some crazy steep slopes. But irrigation was mostly done, so I didn’t see how it works for them.


Overall, it looked basic, like 60’s era dams and irrigation systems. Considering how parched the landscape was, I’m sure all those little dams brought a lot of wealth to the region. I’d worry more about the environmental damage if the landscape hadn’t looked so thoroughly managed. Every last tree we saw was useful: apples, walnuts, cherries, apricots, poplars (for wood). Any green plant was a grapevine, rose, asparagus or gourd. One thing that was pretty cool was that the ag storage seemed to be warehoused in the rock itself.


How incredibly useful to have storage problems solved.

There was other stuff, but On the Public Record didn’t achieve all this fame and fortune by diversifying. OtPR lives to serve a narrow niche, and puts extraneous exotica below the fold.

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