In Atlanta, another water use decoupling

Via Brett Walton at Circle of Blue: Per capita water use declined 30 percent from 2000 to 2015, and total water consumption within the metro Atlanta area declined over 10 percent despite a 20 percent increase in population. That’s from the Georgia Department of Natural Resources (pdf). As Brett notes, “Georgia now says it does …

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The decline in California’s cotton acreage

In his keynote at last week’s Law of the Colorado River conference in Las Vegas, Metropolitan Water District General Manager Jeff Kightlinger pointed out something that’s not gotten a lot of attention in discussions of California’s drought – the extraordinary decline in that state’s acreage of cotton. Cotton’s gotten a bad rap in irrigation circles, because …

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The great water decoupling, San Diego edition

Ry Rivard in Voice of San Diego: As San Diego benefits from its new supplies of water, its customers are cutting their water use. That means San Diego now has more water than it needs. This is what I’m talking about Friday at the Law of the Colorado River conference. It’s the core of the …

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Tamarisk and its beetle are here to stay

The tamarisk beetle, introduced in 2001 as a strategy to control “invasive” tamarisk trees in the United States, is “expected to spread throughout the entire (Colorado River Basin), and tamarisk presence, distribution and abundance will likely decline as a result,” according to a new report (pdf). “Tamarisk beetle in the Colorado River basin”, written by Ben Bloodworth of …

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Pushback on the export of Palo Verde alfalfa

In freshman college physics, a common conceit to simplify the study of velocity and momentum is the air table (think air hockey), which allows you to reduce the friction on a moving object to negligible levels. “Imagine,” the professor explains, “a frictionless plane.” And then sketches out on the chalkboard the equations for velocity and …

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A further note on California alfalfa exports: California is a net importer of virtual water

While we were blathering on mindlessly in a comment thread about the water exported form California via alfalfa exports, Peter Gleick helpfully jumped in with come actual data: California’s total water footprint is an estimated 64 million acre-feet of water. That’s more than double the amount of water that flows down both of the state’s …

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The struggle with municipal water rates in response to conservation

The downside to the remarkable water conservation I’ve been writing about (see yesterday’s Albuquerque numbers, for example) is revenue. Water utilities sell water. If people use less water, water utilities make less money. One option is to shift to more fixed-costs pricing, charging a flat rate for service, but then you lose the behavioral incentive …

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Albuquerque at 127 gallons per person per day – how low can cities go?

I’m giving a talk next week at the CLE Law of the River conference in Las Vegas about what I think is one of the two most important trends in western water management. The first, which we hear a lot about, is the pressure posed by climate change and drought. The second, which I don’t think …

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