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Innovative Ways to Deal with California’s Drought
Fiddling While California Burns
The first thing that comes to mind is that California needs to stop wasting $64 billion on a really, really fast train. The entire state is circling the bowl for the last time, almost every business and individual has been hit, and the powers that be are trying grease palms or deliver political paybacks via high speed rails. Given the propensity of the state to go up in smoke when the vegetation gets dry it is almost literally fiddling while that state burns. They are earnestly rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic.
If you must waste $64 billion why not do it in a way that provides much needed water? How about a salt water pipeline that brings ocean water to Death Valley for instance. There is an idea called the “saltwater greenhouse” wherein sea water is sent to the desert and its evaporation is used to create fresh water.
Another name for this process is “seawater green house”. There is even a company that goes by that name that offers seawater and sunlight solutions to energy, water and food problems.
Make the desert green and all your problems are solved.
If the pumps for the water use solar energy then the project could be energy neutral. There are various technologies that can be used the help the saltwater pumps along such as thermosiphoning, which is a way of using heat and convection to move water. Also, if the location that the water is going to is below sea level then this will help because the water will be moving downhill. Given that we can always use more jobs it surely wouldn’t hurt to make the project labor intensive. Salt loving crops could also be grown under these conditions. It is time to take advantage of the fact that much of California is essentially desert.
If nothing else rich Californians need to get busy impressing us all with their wealth. They need to prove that they are so rich they don’t need to drink fresh water. They and their estates can subsist entirely off of saltwater. Think of it as a giant demonstration project. Either truck in or pipe in saltwater from the ocean and desalinate it on the spot. Then use the purified water for drinking and also water your acres of grass. This will show solidarity with the working classes as you ease their water burdens and anything you can do to demonstrate proof of principles in water purification, desalination and how to get rid of all that darn salt, would be a boon to everyone. Think of it as “giving back”. By the way, this means you Al Gore so pay attention to this “inconvenient truth”.
Training the rain
I have argued elsewhere that California needs more water much more than it needs a $64 billion boondoggle called high speed rail. But what if I am wrong? Not about the idiocy of high speed trains during the drought of the millennium. But rather, what if rail was the answer? Some have suggested that water be shipped by rail from places in the east that have plenty of water to California. After all oil and chlorine can be shipped by rail so we know that under certain circumstances it can be cost effective to send liquids by train.
I have seen one estimate that for as little as $40 million some of California’s smaller communities could get help with their water supply. This help would come by rail. The forty million dollars would be used to make improvements to the railroad system and the cost to the water consumers would be pennies per gallon. Compare that to the $64 billion boondoggle to move foreign criminals (illegal aliens and undocumented democrats) from one end of the state to other.
Digging a well in the sky
One rather interesting way of getting fresh water is sometimes called an air well. The idea is to use the atmosphere as you would a ground water well. Wring fresh water from the skies! Once people got the idea there were a lot of creative names. Dew ponds and fog fences to name a few.
There are several ways to encourage water vapor to condense in useful quantities. The shapes of buildings and the materials they are made of can help. Where shade and sun are allowed on a property can help. Caves and caverns can be useful. Even polluted and salty water can help since they can increase the amount of water vapor available for condensation. Naturally any refrigeration or air conditioning that is used can help condense the water out of the air as well.
For a natural air well the point is to make it “rain” where you want it to. That is to say to make the local dew point, the point at which the air becomes so saturated with water that it cannot hold more, appear on some useful surface. One way to do this is to create a massive structure with lots of surface area. But the problem with massive structures is that they take a long time to cool and you need that cooling to get to the dew point. Less massive structures can cool by radiating heat. If you add things like shading and proper airflow you can get a lot of natural water from the air.
Given the amount of water needed to satisfy human needs, often electricity is used to help matters along. Solar energy is a good way to make the process more carbon neutral.
There are any number of ways to use water vapor for human needs. There are even dew or air drop irrigation systems that can be used to water crops.
There are devices called atmospheric water generators or atmosphere water collectors that can be used to generate potable water in harsh climates. Some of these devices are powered by solar energy.
Some areas of the earth, often those near the sea, are infamous for fog. There is a technology variously called cloud stripping or fog harvesting. Basically you put up a fog fence and promote water droplets and you catch the drops, run them through pipes and store the water.
It does not appear that drawing water from the air can be used for large scale projects. At least I could not find any literature that said for instance that some country was tossing out its current water system and putting in air wells. It is not hard to find countries, corporations and companies that are going hard at desalination, purification and filtration.