Thursday, July 24, 2014

California Water Wars

Lying and distorting facts is not limited to the federal government; state government can come up with some real gems of altered reality too. From the Los Angeles Times we get an article headlined “Major California reservoirs below 50% capacity as drought wears on,” in which California Department of Water Resources spokesman Ted Thomas says that, “When all 12 of the major reservoirs are combined, the average is at 60%.”

Here are the twelve major reservoirs and the current status for each.

I don't know where the water department twit gets that 60%, because if you take the average for each lake, add them together and divide by twelve, you get 40% which is nowhere near the 60% he apparently pulled out of his ass.

But even if it did come to 60% or somewhere close to it, it would not tell a true story, because the size of the reservoirs makes a lot of difference, and California's reservoirs vary enormously in size. When you have a tiny little reservoir that is 90% full, and a monstrous big reservoir that is 10% full, they do not average out to give you 50% of your water capacity.

If you look at the our major reservoirs, the biggest reservoirs are at 36%, 37% and 26% full, while down in the southern part of the state Pyramid Lake is at 92% of its teacup-sized capacity. If you add up the total capacities and the total contents, the total percentage of water stored in those "12 major reservoirs" is only 36% of the total capacity.

Ted Twit Thomas goes on to say that “That's puts the state in a far better position than it was 37 years ago, when a crippling drought brought the statewide reservoir average down to 41%.” Well, it would if his 60% was an actual number rather than an imaginary one, but in this universe 36% is actually less than 41%.

Not that it really matters, because he’s actually saying something to the effect of “my apple is better than your orange” because the reservoir capacity and population are both just a little bit different now than they were 37 years ago. The population in 1977 was in the close vicinity of 20 million and is about 38 million today, so it has grown something like 90% in the past 37 years. The reservoir capacity has grown from 4300 km3 in 1977 to about 6000 km3 today, or about 40% growth in the same period.

So, to recap, we have 36% of a capacity which has grown 40% to serve a population which has grown 90% but we are in better shape now than we were when we had 41% of capacity back then. Brilliant.

1 comment:

bruce said...

maybe we're better off because we use less water per capita than we used to? Of course, with a higher population, we use a lot more, so maybe it works out to a net of zero or actually more usage. All I know is that there is a drought, it happens more often than not, and many people have their heads in the unwatered sand.

Post a Comment