Water in the desert Posted by jfleck on 7 May 2015, 9:45 pm Alfalfa, stacked, Gila Bend Arizona, by John Fleck
Gila Bend being in Maricopa County, AZ it is convenient to look up the overall ag production there using shttp://www2.pacinst.org/reports/co_river_ag_2013/map/ in order of acreage importance. Those numbers could be converted to acre-feet usage with the appropriate multiplier, say 5 for the leading crop alfalfa giving 660,980 acre-feet per year (~2x Nevada’s CR water allotment).
Crops headed for feedlot or CAFO dairy are marked with an asterisk. These are best summed because a reduction say in alfalfa acreage one year might be made up with an increase in corn, total cow caloric consumption being roughly the same. People don’t always realize how much total water is going to this single, dietaraly optional use. Assuming (inaccurately) 5 ac-ft/yr for all asterisked items, this gives 880,555 ac-ft/yr just for this one county.
It is sort of the wild card in water as participation in ‘Meatless Mondays’ plus vegetarian and vegan (no dairy or meat) lifestyles are beyond the control of institutions and authorities — and widespread and growing in kinky California, the question being whether vegans are willing to take navy showers and rip out their lawn just so their neighbor can have another bbq.
It would be quite interesting to calculate the water savings of just Milkless/Meatless Monday (assuming, simplistically, reduced demand lead to reduced supply) — it would be colossal. For Maricopa alone, this pencils out to 125,794 ac-ft more water per year or about 42% of Nevada’s annual allotment from Lake Mead. For one day a week, compare the hardship. Just saying.
Small grains* 27,921
Corn for grain*
total* 176,111 (79%)
Interesting article in IEEE spectrum on Precision ag: http://spectrum.ieee.org/energywise/energy/environment/the-promise-of-precision-agriculture-in-droughtridden-california It points out that one of the barriers is going from traditional flowing water (gravity drive) in ditches style irrigation to pressurized water irrigation, allowing more precise delivery of water.
Also states that drip and micro sprinkler irrigation have gone from 15% to 40% from 1990 to 2010