Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Need We Conserve Water Here?

The Times- Standard looked at Humboldt County's water use yesterday. We use less water than most areas of the state but some want us to work harder on conservation efforts. I'm wondering how necessary that really is, at least for those of us getting water from the Mad River via Ruth Lake?

I know. I know. Heresy, but hear me out.

We don't get our water directly from Ruth Lake. In other words, we don't suck our water directly from the bottom of Ruth Lake. We get our water from wells beneath the Mad River near Blue Lake. Ruth Lake loses water by releasing it to the Mad River. We get some of it way downstream. The vast majority flows into the ocean.

We might get our water from beneath the Mad River but, even if we took it from the river itself, it's going to go into the ocean anyway. Once it's in the ocean it's of essentially no use to us until it comes back in the form of rain. We might as well take it while we can.

A couple things might muddle up my suggestion/ question: 

Is the aquifer we pump water from beneath the Mad River just a sitting body of water that's fed by the Mad River? If so, I suppose conservation would still be warranted since it would essentially be a limited amount of water. But that might not be an issue until the river itself actually ran dry and couldn't feed the aquifer anymore.

If those sand beds beneath the river are pretty much an underground river that goes to the ocean just as the surface Mad River does, it's also going to flow to the ocean anyway. It shouldn't matter how much we use. It might well go dry even if we don't pump water from it.

Another thing: I'm not sure if the water district releases water from Ruth Lake to compensate for low flows, as is done on other rivers with dams. I suppose if water being pumped from the sand beds causes lower flows (does it?) then it could be argued we'd be increasing the drain on Ruth Lake by taking more water from the river thus requiring them to release more. 

If there's minimal or no effect on river levels from us pumping water out of the sand beds, then how much we use doesn't matter. Same as if the aquifer water runs out to the Mad River. Use it or lose it.

Of course, there's also the fish in the river, but they've survived throughout the millenia with probably longer droughts than we're having now and they didn't have us to worry about them or Ruth Lake to ensure adequate flows.

I suppose it would make more sense to just call the water district and see if they can answer my questions.


At 10:33 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't get my water from beneath the Mad River. The water intake is in the river itself.

At 11:46 AM, Blogger Dronk said...

The brackish zone (where the seawater blends with fresh) needs to be fairly consistent to support the species that live in that very dynamic habit, and drawing water out pushes that blending zone upriver, sometimes into cooler, deeper parts of the river.


Post a Comment

<< Home