18 Jun 2009, 5:53pm
Useless and Stupid
by admin

Water Panic in Oregon

The Goober of Oregon and his Running Dog Legislature want to force every well owner in the state to put a water meter on their private wells. They also wish to then bill every well owner for using their own water.

It should come as no surprise that private well owners (who also own the water rights, which do not belong to the State) are a little peeved at the Goober.

But the Dem-faithful Portland Oregonian newspaper (motto: “We Heart Child Molesters”) is attempting to raise a panic over the “dwindling supply” of water in this rain-drenched place.

From the MolesterNews yesterday:

Good data on water runs dry in Oregon

by Les Zaitz, The Oregonian, June 17, 2009 [here]

Secret House Vineyards ran straight into Oregon’s emerging water shortage when it sought water for 16 acres outside Eugene.

The state Water Resources Department last month told vineyard operators they couldn’t have a new well. It would sap water from a tributary to the Long Tom River.

About the same time, the state turned back a developer’s effort to get irrigation water for 18 homes north of Hillsboro. There wasn’t enough underground water.

Across the valley, Clackamas River Water, a district serving 100,000 people, wanted water for future home use, fire protection, park watering and more. It, too, was told no because of inadequate flows in the fall.

Picking who gets Oregon’s water falls to a tiny agency, the state Water Resources Department. But as water challenges mount, the department has lost employees and suspended research, falling years behind in its work. An agency that lives off data — how much, how deep, how fast — is starved for information. …

“Data is not sexy,” said Lorna Stickel, a Portland Water Bureau executive and former state water commissioner. …

In 1999, 161 people worked there. In 2007, that was down to 138. Staffing shot up with the current budget, but virtually all that will be lost in the coming months.

Well now, we can help. For one thing, we are sexy, Lorna. Maybe we’re not sex perverts like the mayors of Portland, but we like to think we cut a fine figure.

For another, speaking of figures, we know how to do math, unlike the 150-odd folks who work for the state Water Resources Department and the math-challenged journalists of the Oregonian.

… Two years ago, [OR Goober] Kulongoski got the Water Resources Department a $750,000 down payment on a statewide water plan. That bought a study that concluded Oregonians will want another 1 million gallons of water daily by the year 2050. The agency’s challenge is to deliver that water or sharply improve conservation. …

One million gallons is about the amount that comes out of a garden hose if you leave it running for 20 weeks (5 gals/min x 60 min/hr x 24 hr/day x 140 days = 1,008,000 gallons).

It ain’t nothing, in other words. To save a million gallons a day, turn off 140 hoses.

Please send me $750,000 for that tidbit of information, Mr. Goober.

Here’s some more info, worth at least $750 million using Goober fiscal math.

The Mt. Hood NF consists of 1,067,043 acres and has precipitation of 80 to 150 inches per year. The Willamette NF consists of 1,675,407 acres with about the same precip.

The total precip, just on those two National Forests, is ~26 million acre-feet per year (2,742,450 acres x ~9.6 feet per year).

For a comparative statistic, the Bull Run municipal watershed is 102 square miles (65,280 acres) and receives an average of 130 inches of precip per year. That amounts to 707,200 acre-feet per year. The Bull Run municipal watershed serves about 860,000 people.

In other words, just those two NF’s receive enough water to supply 35 additional Portland Metro areas (of 860,000 people each). Of course, there are other uses for the water beside watering StumpTown.

It is interesting to note that proportionally each man, woman, and child in StumpTown uses about 0.8 acre-feet of water per year.

More stats:

Western Oregon covers ~25,000 sq miles (~16,000,000 acres, a quarter of the state) and receives ~100 inches per year average precip. That amounts to 133 million acre-feet per year, enough to supply 166 million people (at Portland usage rates).

The current population of Western Oregon is ~3 million people.

No doubt, it’s time to panic. According to the Oregonian and the Goober. But if we hire another 100 state employees and force a meter on every well in Oregon, the panic will subside. Ouch.

I’m afraid math is not the only intellectual activity those folks are challenged by.

Note: thanks and a tip of the rain hood to certain SOSF regulars who shall remain unnamed due to their shyness.

18 Jun 2009, 6:46pm
by bear bait

Zaitz doesn”t understand water. Period. 326,700 gallons in an acre foot. So a million gallons is about 3 acre feet a day. Multiply that by 2.5, which is the max allowed water per year on a water right, 2.5 acre feet of water for beneficial use per acre of land described on each 1/16 section of land (each “40″, or 40 acres… 1320′ x 1320′… 1,742,400 sq. feet of land. Then you assume a crop comes off in 4 months of irrigation, so you get 3 times your number for acres per year statewide… and what Zaitz is talking about is irrigating 1,200 acres additional by the year 2050, OR having another 1,500 households in Oregon using water. Obviously, Zaitz is missing zeros or he got cooned by someone in Water Resources. Burned bad.

So this discussion brings me to the Oregonian and their outrageous lack of knowledge about board feet when talking about timber, timber growth, logging, etc. What is a million board feet? How much will an acre grow? Managed or unmanaged? Site indicators, total tree height at 30 years of age, and all that stuff that is part and parcel of the vaunted “old growth” discussion. If they don’t know water, and by this story they don’t, then I know they still don’t have any New York Newhouse reporter who knows sour owl crap from a good grade of mush when it comes to talking about trees, timber, logs, and which side of the bread the butter goes on. And that is the major newspaper of the state of Oregon. We be hosed.

18 Jun 2009, 7:24pm
by Mike

2.5 feet per acre is what your water right allows, but closer to 6 to 8 feet is what falls out of the sky on that same acre.

Too bad the rainy season and the growing season are at different times. Part of the problem is that so much water falls out of the sky the ground is saturated most of the year, and you can’t plow or plant and the crops won’t grow under water anyway.

18 Jun 2009, 7:58pm
by Larry H.

Also, vineyards don’t require much water, especially during the fall! My brother makes a very fine Cabernet Sauvignon. Before you pick the grapes in the fall, you want to make sure the sugar content is very high by not watering your vines. Hmmm, I just had a discussion about “ulterior motives” this very morning!

18 Jun 2009, 8:30pm
by Bob Z.

If urbanites were not allowed to wash cars, water savings could take us well into the next century.

Not being allowed to grow lawns would accommodate the most fearsome predictions of the Global Warmers.

Required use of native vegetation to landscape city parks, homes, cemeteries, and golf courses would result in even greater savings of water, plus herbicides, pesticides, and fertilizers.

There are numerous simple, common sense solutions to the Governor’s projections that result in multiple positive changes to the economy, sustainable resource use, aesthetics, and native wildlife. Putting meters on wells isn’t one of them.

18 Jun 2009, 10:31pm
by Mike

Perhaps I was less than coherent. The Goober’s projections are insane. There is no water problem in W. Oregon, unless you count floods. There is no need for “solutions” to a non-problem.

What are needed are field tiles, drainage ditches, and storm drain systems that don’t capture sewage. We have an overabundance of water here. We have enough water to supply 10 Californias.

Portland has a flood problem and a sewage runoff problem. They are spending $billions to build a new storm drain system.

We do not need austere water usage regulations here; we need better ways to get rid of the stuff.

Sometimes reality really should intrude on brainless nincompoopery in government. I realize that knee-jerk enviro paranoia is rampant, and that water shortages are a problem in arid regions. The latter ain’t the case here, although the former is epidemic.

18 Jun 2009, 11:07pm
by Bob Z.


Seasonal water shortages often are a problem here. We need ways to get rid of the stuff in the winter; but ways to more efficiently use it in the summer.

You were definitely coherent, but I was using the opportunity to make a point that conservation of water will produce far greater results than regulation can.

19 Jun 2009, 8:31am
by bear bait

Nothing can happen until the public is educated about water, water law, and the yeoman’s job Oregon Water Resources has done to adjudicate watersheds and the water rights therein. Only when all the water is measured and accounted for, surface and ground, can an informed policy be made. The issue is that OWRB is not getting money to do the job, but from the Governor down, the emphasis on economic growth puts pressure on the available ground and surface water in those places in Oregon that have literally run out of water.

West of the Willamette River, which is not even 400 feet about sea level in Eugene, the geology is sandstone sediments on top of marine basalts which are porous enough to hold water. However, you only have from 50 to 250 feet of geology to get water out of, as below that the water is salt laden from its marine source oh so long ago. So west of the Willamette is a surface water deal, and sandstone sedimentary rock is not a good place for dams. But water storage from winter rains is needed to have adequate and affordable water from there to the Coast.

The Cascade side of the Valley does have more and better water. And snow packs, and every stream but the Molalla River dammed. The issue is that of how to get access to stored water on the 12 Willamette Project dams. You get that water out of the Willamette River, by purchase, and domestic water rates are high because none participated in the cost payments for the dams. The Bureau of Reclamation owns the water, and you can buy it from them through their office in Boise, Idaho. There are ongoing ESA issues with some fish and other critters in the Willamette River, and that can be used to not allow a water sale. All that water, and not a drop to drink, courtesy of the ESA.

ON the East Side of Oregon, many of the high tributary water rights are from the 1860 and 70 period, from mines, miners and mining. After them come the early ranches, and water rights for irrigation over there are pre-1890. And an 1890 water right might not be worth much if there are a couple of 1880s rights before yours. On the West Side, the water right issue that will reduce water for irrigation is the ODFW and DEQ 1964 water rights. So a Western Oregon water right is worth something if its date of appropriation is before 1964, and about bullet proof is before 1950.

And, you can divert water for livestock and personal use without a water right. However, some areas are no longer open to drilling a well, and surface water is not qualified as to obtaining a mortgage for a dwelling, even if the house has been on a spring since the 1800s. That is why there are so many new water districts in rural areas.

Yes, we have the water in winter, but dependable potable water is limited, and extensive water treatment is needed to make it potable from surface water. Unless, of course, you are Portland and your supplemental wells are contaminated by industrial wastes, and that right in the Columbia River flood plain and on the first bench. Water is an issue in population growth and industrial growth. The issue with all the internet servers showing up along the Columbia River where aluminum plants used to be located is about available electrical power in volume and cheap costs. The issue about electronics and silicon plants has been about cheap, clean water.

My take on water. Send a cubic foot of pristine, clean, no logging in the watershed water to town, and it is cheap and wonderful. Then it is used to transport fecal matter, laundry soap, bath soap, car slimes, garden and lawn pesticides and fertilizers to the storm drain or sewers, and is now called “polluted water.” Nothing about potable water for domestic use improves the water. So the issue is for it to be clean upstream from YOUR intake and screw the world below your OUTFALL. And, there is a synergy with that cubic foot of water that permits all sorts of infrastructure and industrial use, and extended domestic use, that takes runoff from winter rains, now polluted by the street goo and roof moss chemicals, and asphaltics, and lord knows what else, and puts that into the storm runoff stream to be mixed with sewage and dumped in the river in Portland, planned to be dumped, even after a several billion dollar stormwater collection system has been upgraded and installed. So the surest way to pollute water is to send it town. Sort of like teenage kids from the country. Send them to the big city and you mostly won’t like what you get back. So the clean water issue is not about health. It is about cheap. Cities want cheap water, that they don’t have to spend much to clean. And they don’t care about the water that leaves town. That is someone else’s problem..



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