On February 16th I wrote about Peak Water.

Here are two of the comments I received in regards to the above:

Peak Water?? That is more ridiculous than peak oil. Supply is as always a function of price. Cheap water may not be that abundant, but given a market price for water, people will consume to their marginal benefit. Let the free market free and quit the doom and gloom about peak water. In case you haven’t noticed, the earth is over 3/4 water…
Nate | 02.17.06 – 11:19 am | #

Mish, you’re sounding more like one of those TV news producers who can’t do a broadcast without stealing the work of the local newspaper reporters. How about coming up with something original, something you can call your own? This so-called “world economic view” of yours is about as fresh as yesterday’s headlines.
By the way, what’s your point in calling attention to a potential water crisis in the West? Is that supposed to be enlightening? When the acquifers dry up in Nevada and Arizona it won’t come as a surprise to the locals. The Mormons live in one of the driest climates in the world yet have been able to sustain a high standard of living for over 150 years.
Bubble Boy BubbleMania | 02.16.06 – 11:11 pm | #

Those were the public ones.
Some of the private ones I do not care to print.

Anyway it seems Peak Water is back in the news today.
The Arizona Republic is reporting High country lacks snowpack for first time since ’30s

To Nate and BubbleBoy …. here is the date on the above article: Mar. 3, 2006 04:18 PM

Let’s take a look at some highlights.

High in the San Francisco Peaks outside Flagstaff, in a small basin 10,000 feet above sea level, a survey team scouting for snow this week found just 4 inches where there should have been more than 50.

Four very lonely inches.

Almost everywhere else across the state’s high country, the teams found nothing but dead leaves and parched pine trees on days that usually mark winter’s peak, alarming new evidence that Arizona is in the throes of its driest winter on record, perhaps the driest in centuries.

How dry is it? At 29 of 34 snow measuring sites monitored by the U.S. Natural Resources Conservation Service in Arizona, there was no snow Wednesday. That’s the barest the survey sites have been going back to the earliest records in the late 1930s.

“Arizona is off the bottom of the charts,” said Tom Pagano, a hydrologist for the service in Portland, Ore. “This year is unlike anything we’ve ever seen before.”

Snowpack is critical for Arizona’s water supplies, feeding the streams and reservoirs that supply Phoenix, Flagstaff and dozens of other communities. Those reservoirs have been buffeted by a regional drought entering its 11th year, a stretch punctuated four years ago by what many scientists thought was the driest year ever.

“We were all thinking that 2002 had been a once-in-a-lifetime event, that it would never happen again,” Pagano said. “So far, this year is worse than 2002.”

Warmer, drier weather in February has even taken a toll on the Colorado River, which had been headed for a second above-normal runoff year. The snowpack on the river dropped to 94 percent of average for March 1. Forecasters now expect flow into Lake Powell, the key measure of the river’s production, to reach just 91 percent of average, which will slow recovery from record-low water levels on the river.

“If we hadn’t had a wet winter last year, we would be in so much trouble now in regard to water supply, I wouldn’t even want to speculate,” said Dallas Reigle, senior hydrologist for SRP.

Though scientists will debate why this drought has deepened, they know how: The winter storm track veered sharply to the north. Today marks the 136th consecutive day without rain at Sky Harbor International Airport. The November-through-February period was the driest on record for Phoenix. Flagstaff has received just 1.6 inches of snow since fall; the average is 72.5 inches.

Air quality
The Valley’s air quality has suffered mightily in the dry winter. The air filled with dust and other particulates that in a typical winter would be washed away by rain or scooped out by storm systems.

With no rain and few storms, unhealthful conditions flourished. The Arizona Department of Environmental Quality has issued a stunning 24 high-pollution advisories since Nov. 1, and the air has exceeded the federal standard for coarse particulates 29 times. Last year when storms drenched Arizona, the Valley exceeded the standards twice, and the department issued no pollution advisories.

“We’ve never really seen anything like what we’ve gone through this season,” said Steve Owens, the department’s director.

Look. let’s be perfectly honest here.
I had no idea that this draught would continue like it has. It might continue for 10 more years or it might flood next year. What we do know however is that home building is continuing at a pace that presumes there will not be a water problem not only now, but at population densities 2-5 times as great in some locations. That of course is the gamble. There is a lot of evidence that suggests a climate change and there is also evidence that suggests that underground reservoirs will be in trouble 10-20 years or so down the line. I guess the question is this: How much do you want to bet on it?

Take a look at some of the comments to that article:

Thank goodness for bottled water. As for Mountain lions eating poodles I personally don’t like poodles. However if you live on the fringes of town you do need to keep your animals indoors right now. Just think, at one time all of you who are faulting those who live on the fringes of town now live in a home that was once considered on the fringes. Maybe we ought to implode the cities starting with the oldest parts first and move out. Nothing like urban renewal.smiling smiley I hope you all realize I am joking for the most part.. in all seriousness we have never in this state faced a drought like this one. No one knows what is in store. We must do what we can to prevent fires especially in the mountains. And pray for rain. (Jim3786, March 3, 2006 04:21PM)

I am sick of watching my neighbors sprinkler every morning on his front yard, drenching it for no other reason then to look pretty. Hey, if there is not enough water to sustain your trees and grass then you do not need them! I do not water my lawn, if it dies then so be it, but I will not be responsible for contributing to the draining of reservoir water desperately needed by wildlife. The bears and pronghorn and eagles aren’t taking 30 minute showers every day in the water. They don’t dump water so their tree will be greener then the neighbors. They use it to survive, and that’s it. Perhaps we need to too. My feeling- if you bought a new build on the fringes of the Valley- N. Scotts, Gold Canyon Ranch, Queen Creek, Surprise, Buckeye- and a mountain lion comes in your backyard to drink from your pool and snack on your poodle, well you shouldn’t have moved so close to him! Don’t shoot him, go buy some Meow Mix so the next time he won’t chew on your other poodle.
(Julie9673, March 3, 2006 01:36PM)

I find it interesting that the drought of 2002 was not enough of a wakeup call to the city of Phoenix and the surrounding communities. It seems that as long as water comes out of the faucet, people will just let it run in the streets. So why does the Phoenix collective still seem to think that lakes, lawns, and golf courses are such a great idea? The shallow lakes and ponds that dot the valley are nothing but evaporating pools, starving us of water and adding to muggy summers. The rapid expansion of asphalt and concrete has created a permanent high pressure heat island, that literally forces storms to find a path around the city. In all of this time since 2002, I have heard little mention of draining the lakes, losing the lawns, and owning up to the idea that we live in the desert, and not Minnesota. The time for water conservation was fifty years ago. Phoenix now has a full blown addiction to sprinklers and needs to spend some time in rehab.
(Ron3570, March 3, 2006 10:34AM)

I find this hilarious, when you look back on an article the Arizona Republic printed from an “expert” last year that said calling for water rationing, draining lakes and pools and stoping construction was going over board. Perhaps they need a follow up story and get that expert to comment now!
(Julie9673, March 3, 2006 01:36PM)

People who come to live in the the desert should be prepared to do just that. This is an extremely fragile ecology that is being destroyed by the hubris that man can create an unlimited oasis and not have to someday pay the price. Nature always rules, eventually. Some of these posts blame pools and lawns, but the fact is the amount of water it takes to support one person is more. Yet hundreds of new homes continue to be built daily and thousands of people migrate here every year with no restrictions. Has there ever been a proposed development here that got denied? I doubt it. You can’t keep sticking more straws in the same glass and expect it to never empty. This unchecked growth has got to stop or we will be looking at the flip side of Katrina – a dehydrated ghost town with miles and miles of worthless, empty houses, but not before desperate people start victimizing one another. Anyone who doesn’t believe it’s coming is just fooling themself.
(Annice9818, March 3, 2006 12:48PM)

this is bullshit. People just wash their cars and let water run out into the street like it is @#$%&’ nothing. My water bill is climbing like a mother @#$%& and I cant afford it. They need to stop building those god @#$%& golf courses and lake communities. You know what.. better yet.. JUST STOP FUCKING BUILDING!!! This city is too @#$%& big as it is. Bullshit. This country is @#$%& up.
(fufu2123, March 3, 2006 10:59AM)

Mish note: You will not find that last comment in the link above.
It was deleted by the editor of the Arizona Republic but fortunately not before it was captured forever more on the Mish board.

In the meantime home builders keep building and people keep buying homes in the desert. Warm weather may be nice, but not if the water runs out.

Peak Water? You tell me. How much are you willing to bet against it?

Mike Shedlock / Mish/