Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Statistics Show Our County is Drying

This writer has asserted, relying on memory, that we used to have more summer rainfall in this area in the mid-eighties than we have now, and concluded that our tiered water rates are the reason, as we have been feeding the water cycle less as we save water to save money.  Grants Pass city staff have told us that we are using less every year, which has caused the city to raise rates to cover overhead, which is most of the cost of cleaning and delivering water.
An analysis of three decades of monthly summer rainfall totals for the 97526 zip code, from June 1983 to September 2012, shows that precipitation in July and August, our driest and hottest months, has fallen 0.09 inch per decade, from 0.41 inch to 0.32 inch to 0.23 inch. 
Average high rainfall for the two months, a measure of storm strength, has also fallen from 0.25 inch the first decade to 0.17 inch in the second, and 0.12 inch the third.   In the first decade, there were bigger storms on average in July and August, the middle of the irrigation season, than in June-August or July-September: 0.25 inch as opposed to 0.23 and 0.24 inches.  This reverses in the second decade: 0.17 inch in July-August as opposed to 0.22 inch with June or September included.  It proportionately drops more in the third decade, with 0.12 inch compared to 0.17 inch with June or September averaged in.
This fits well with the idea that irrigation feeds the water cycle and increases rainfall in the general area, particularly thunderstorms.  But some would blame this drop in rainfall on global warming caused by higher CO2 levels.  More heat doesn’t necessarily mean less rain, as monsoons and summer thunderstorms in particular are caused by heat sending moisture high in the air, but less rain almost certainly means more heat from lack of evaporative cooling.
Temperature records for the same three decades in July and August alone, show that the average mean mid-summer temperatures fell from the first decade to the second, from 71.4° Fahrenheit to 69.2°, a drop of 0.6 °; and it rose to 73.2°, a gain of 4°, in the third.  It looks like temperatures rose from lack of rain, but the lack was not sufficient to stop a general cooling trend in the second decade.
Since we started metering water and charging higher rates for higher use, both our water use and our mid-summer rainfall in Josephine County have fallen steadily.  Average temperatures during the same period have gone up and down over the decades, so the lack of rain is not temperature-driven, and is probably due to less irrigation in the City of Grants Pass and its surrounding areas, where many farms are no longer being irrigated because they are no longer being actively farmed.

Grants Pass Precipitation for June-September, 1983-2012

Summer Rainfall by the month, 

averaged by season and decade June-Aug July-Sept July-Aug
1983-1992 0.45 0.46 0.41
1993-2002 0.38 0.43 0.32
2003-2012 0.47 0.29 0.23

Monthly High Daily Rainfall

averaged by season and decade June-Aug July-Sept July-Aug
1983-1992 0.23 0.24 0.25
1993-2002 0.22 0.22 0.17
2003-2012 0.17 0.17 0.12

Average Temps in July, August          high         mean          low
1983-1992 102.1 71.4 43.3
1993-2002 101.5 69.2 41.3
2003-2012 102.5 73.2 48.8

Data from, 

analyzed and summarized by Rycke Brown

Gardening is easy, if you do it naturally.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Clean Water Makes Cleaner Food

          On KAJO’s Tuesday talk show this week, one of the Councilors present replied to my proposal to change our water rates to promote irrigation that it is a shame that children in Africa don’t have access to clean water, while we are using it to water our yards.

          This reminds me of what we were told as children:  “Eat your dinner; there are starving people in China.”  A smart child would say, “Then send it to China.”  An American eating dinner couldn’t fill a Chinese stomach.  We can’t send any clean water that we don’t use to children in Africa.  The problem in Africa is a lack of water-cleaning equipment, such as the new “flash” distiller that the same Councilor was talking about a few minutes before, which the Navy is using to provide ship-board water.  He said that it can clean seawater faster than it can be pumped overboard.

          I get the same kind of response from Greens on Linked In: Look at all the fresh water shortages around the world!  We have to save it!

All fresh and clean water shortages are local.  Those with a lot of fresh, clean water cannot send it to those who don’t have enough and are far away.  Los Angeles has built giant pipelines to bring water to their overgrown city, but I don’t think you want to sell water to LA. 
We can, however, send it on the wind over the Cascades to the Klamath Basin, by using it for irrigation and letting it blow over the hill to them, while first making rain in Josephine and Jackson Counties.

          Still, some think that cleaned water is wasted if one throws it on plants.  The FDA and Department of Agriculture might differ.  There have been e-coli outbreaks caused by irrigating with dirty water.  The Grants Pass Water Quality Monitoring report for 2003-2005 prepared by Rogue Valley Council of Governments showed high E. coli levels for all streams except Jones Creek and the Rogue River and moderate levels in the Rogue.  By using city water on the food we grow, we avoid E. coli contamination.  This is also safer water to use in a mister or sprinkler for children to play in.  The actual cleaning of our water costs very little, but cleaned water is not wasted by using it for irrigation or cooling and cleaning our air. 

          If you want to help children in Africa, donate to a charity that builds water plants there.  We have poor children in Grants Pass that are growing up without green yards or growing their own food.  Poor families are paying more than they should for household water as well, subsidizing single seniors with much more money.  The City can give a discount to seniors who are using food stamps; the rest can pay their fair share for our water plant.


Gardening is easy, if you do it naturally.