Tragedy of the Commons
There is no technical solution – science and technology cannot solve the problem at hand. Hardin argues that the population problem has no technical solution. Population grows geometrically, or exponentially. But the world is not infinite. A finite world can support only a finite population. It is not possible to maximize two or more variables concurrently.
Tragedy of the commons – a pasture that is open to all. Each herdsman will try to keep as many cattle as possible on the commons, and will seek to maximize his gain. Adding one more cattle to the herd gives a net positive benefit because the cost of overgrazing is only a fraction of -1, while the positive benefit is +1 since the herdsman gets all the proceeds from the sale of the animal. Thus each herdsman keeps adding more animals while the space of the commons is limited. National parks are on example of a commons. They are open to all, but population seems to grow without limit. If some system of admittance is not taken, the national parks will be of no value to anyone. Problems of pollution are also tragedy of the commons. Instead of taking something out of the commons, something toxic is put in, whether it be sewage, chemical, radioactive, or waste into water. The rational person finds the cost of putting something bad into the water less than the benefit received.
California’s Water: An LAO Primer
Department of Water Resources – DWR: water delivery, water supply planning, and infrastructure development
State Water Resources Control Board – regulatory body managing water rights and water quality.
Porter Cologne Water Quality Act – California’s first comprehensive body of water quality law, which created the State Water Resources Control Board and nine other Regional Water Quality Control Boards to control water quality in California. Water quality standards are enforced for surface and ground water, and the discharges of pollutants from point and non-point sources are regulated.
Wild and Scenic Rivers Act –
Water exports from State Water Project have been reduced because of the delta smelt, a fish that is endangered and at risk of extinction. State has to reduce water pumping by 30 %.
Colorado River: 1922 Colorado River Compact – signed by multiple states that allocated 7.5 million acre-feet per year to each of the river’s two basins. 1963 Arizona v. California, 2.8 MAF of water to Arizona. 1998-2003: CA agrees to reduce its water use from the Colorado River to 4.4 MAF.
The federal government is the largest owner of surface water storage, with 17 MAF, largely under control of the federal Central Valley Project.
CALFED – $3 billion spent on protecting and restoring the Delta. Goals are to provide good water quality for all uses, improve fish and wildlife habitat, and reduce the risks from deteriorating levees.
Peripheral Canal – plan to bypass the Delta
The federal government, through the Bureau of Reclamation has the most water rights with 112 MAF of water held.
Water use stays relatively constant even though population has increased. Conservation measures account for this with low flow toilets, showerheads, and landscape irrigation improvements. Agriculture will see a drop in water use because of agricultural water efficiency, shift to higher valued crops using less water, and shift from agricultural to cities to meet growing urban water supply needs.
Agriculture uses 80% of California’s water.
Managing Water Avoiding Crisis in California – Dorothy Green Notes
A population of 10 million lives in a land that can only support 1 million with local water supplies.
We do not pay for the true cost of water. Growth should not take place in dry arid regions, but rather near water sources.
Agriculture is 3% of the CA economy.
Concrete storm channels allowed for stormwater reach the sea as quickly as possible, and maximized amount of land available for development.
LA has a Mediterranean climate with 85% of the rainwater falling from November through March.
LA basin has an average rainfall of 15 inches.
La Ninas – period of drought, where sea surface temperature across Pacific Ocean is 5 degrees lower than normal
Urban runoff – excess water that runs in the streets all year-round from landscape irrigation, car washing, hosing down sidewalks.
Spreading basins – large shallow man-made pits where water slowly percolates into the soil in order to replenish the groundwater basin lying underneath.
LA regional Water Quality Control board requires that new construction retain the first ¾ inch of storms within a 24-hour period on site.
LA gets 40-45% of its water from groundwater.
Adjudication – courts defined which people have rights to groundwater by allocating shares of ownership based on historic pumping records. A watermaster checks to see that those with permission to pump do not exceed their allocation.
Seawater intrusion – when groundwater levels are below sea level, salty ocean water infiltrates into the fresh groundwater supply. Reclaimed water can be injected into the ground to replenish groundwater supply.
Los Angeles Aqueducts – Associated with William Mulholland. City purchased farmland in Owens Valley to get associated riparian water rights. Source of water is snow melt off the Sierra Nevada Mountains.
Dust storms in Owens Valley significantly degrade the region’s air quality. Owens Valley groundwater has been pumped down, but is now reversed because the LADWP is under court order to restore some wetlands in the basin and control the dust from Owens Lake.
Metropolitan Water District – formed to build and manage the Colorado River Aqueduct.
The period during which the Colorado River water was divided up was wetter than the long-term average, so the water allotments were oversubscribed. The Law of the River gives 4.4 million acre-feet of water from the Colorado River to CA, but CA has been using on average 800,000 acre-feet over its allocation. But since other states did not use their full amounts, CA was able to take more. But now Arizona and Nevada are taking their full entitlements. CA has until 2015 until surplus from Colorado River is cut off.
All American Canal delivers water from Colorado River to Imperial Valley.
Along the path of the Colorado River, many cities use its water and then dump treated wastewater into the river. Is a problem for water quality. Water evaporates which increases its salinity.
Hard water is water that has high mineral content.
State Water Project – system of dams, reservoirs, power and pumping stations, and 662 miles of aqueduct designed to transport water from the Sacramento River Watershed to the central and southern portions of the state. The State Department of Water Resources manages the aqueduct. The State Water Project is the largest user of electricity in the state.
Central Valley Project – built to provide irrigation for the entire Central Valley.
San Joaquin Valley has problems of selenium, where clay layers under the topsoil capture irrigation water and retain it in the root zones of crops.
If levees fail, saltwater from the bay will rush in.
Los Angeles Aqueducts deliver 40% less water because of rewatering of the Owens Valley and Mono Basin.
Bureau of Reclamation built Central Valley Project and has been criticized for serving farms of thousands of acres, even though it is only supposed to service farms less than 160 acres. The limit has been raised to 960 acres. The Bureau of Reclamation has also been accused of charging much less for water than the law requires.
Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) – largest municipal utility in the country.
LA County Department of Public Works – operates spreading activities, as well as injection wells to protect groundwater from intrusion from seawater.
Wastewater collection is the responsibility of the City of LA Bureau of Sanitation.
Point Sources – sources that discharge directly to rivers, streams, or the ocean. Examples: wastewater treatment plants, and industries that discharge out of a pipe.
Nonpoint sources – agricultural runoff, street or urban runoff, septic systems
Regional Water Quality Control Board does NPDES – national pollutant discharge elimination system, type of permit. They also enforce total maximum daily loads (TMDLs – determine how much of each pollutant the receiving waters can assimilate).
CALFED – find a common ground between agriculture, urban sector, and environmentalists. Ineffective because no independent funding source.
The biggest and most dependable source of new water is to use what we currently have more efficiently.
Best Management Practices allowed for a population increase of 35% (1 million people), but only a 7% increase in water.
By law, wastewater must be treated to secondary standards before being discharged into the ocean. Tertiary standards are necessary before discharge to rivers and streams.
Primary Treatment: passing wastewater through sedimentation tanks to allow the heavier matter to settle out, with the addition of chemical coagulants.
Secondary Treatment: bacteria is added that eats organic materials and settle out more of the suspended solids.
Tertiary Treatment: removes any remaining suspended solids, bacteria, and viruses. Uses microfiltration, ultraviolet treatment, and reverse osmosis.
Nonpotable Reuse – water that is not used for drinking and cooking. This kind of water can be used for landscape irrigation, artificial lakes and ponds on golf courses, filling wetlands, and toilet flushing.
Groundwater Recharge, or Indirect potable reuse – using reclaimed water for groundwater recharge or seawater-intrusion barriers.
Soil aquifer treatment – tertiary treated groundwater is directed into spreading grounds, where it percolates into the groundwater.
Title 22 of the California Administrative Code provides detailed guidelines for the treatment levels and use of all reclaimed water.
Biosolids from Hyperion are taken to a city-owned farm in Kern County for use as a fertilizer and soil amendment.
Tillman reclamation Plant – provides reclaimed water for use in golf courses as well as into the LA river. Tillman plant can treat 64 million gallons per day.
Conjunctive Use – groundwater is the most reliable supply, especially during droughts. Groundwater cannot evaporate. Conjunctive use involves putting surface water underground when it rains.
Reference to Low Impact Development: roof should no longer be required to drain to the street, but should be required to instead drain to a landscaped area that can retain stormwater and allow it to infiltrate into the ground. Parking lots should be redesigned to direct the stormwater flow into the planters instead of building concrete curbs around the planters to keep the water out. LID has the advantage of replenishing groundwater supplies. Urban runoff would be reduced, and water quality would be improved. Disadvantages are that soils that are contaminated could contaminate the underlying groundwater.
Drinking water quality is regulated by the federal Safe Drinking Water Act. In CA, the EPA and state department of health services are responsible for the implementation of the federal Safe Drinking Water Act. California Porter-Cologne Water Quality Control Act – 1969 water quality laws.
MCL – maximum contaminant levels.
Coliform bacteria are an indicator that cross-contamination is occurring from sewage lines, and are monitored on the most frequent basis.
Groundwater usually does not need to be filtered or disinfected other than low level chlorination because groundwater is usually high quality after natural cleansing with the slow movement of water through the ground.
Surface water is treated by first screening. Larger objects are removed in this manner. Then the water is flocculated where larger particles clump together. Coagulants are added to cause the solids to clump together. Then a process of sedimentation occurs, where particles and sediment settle to the bottom and are removed. Then filtration and adsorption followed by disinfection, where chlorine is added to keep the water free of cholera and typhoid.
Public Trust Doctrine Manual
Public Trust Doctrine – natural resources belong to all and cannot be privately owned or controlled because of their importance to each individual and society as a whole.
The state is the trustee, the natural resource is the trust principal, and the current and future generations are the beneficiaries.
1) environmental groups use public trust doctrine to limit State action that compromises natural resources
2) State cites the public trust doctrine to support state action that protects resources from private actions.
Waiahole case – native Hawaiians, small farmers, and community members petitioned state water commission to return water to its natural flow from a decommissioned irrigation system. Opposing were agriculture companies and developers who wanted to continue the water diversions. The Hawaii supreme court ruled on behalf of the public trust doctrine, and included groundwater under public trust doctrine.
5th amendment allows government to take away property from a property owner by giving compensation.
LA gets its water from LA Aqueduct, local groundwater, State Water Project, and Colorado River.
FOR: kern county farmers, MWD
AGAINST: environmental groups, farm bureau.
Clean Water Act
- Only surface water
- Overseen by U.S. EPA
- Cuyahoga river caught fire, oil spill off Santa Barbara
- Goal 1: to restore and maintain the chemical, physical, and biological integrity of nation’s waters.
- Goal 2: elimination of discharges of pollutants to navigable waters
- Goal 3: fishable, swimmable
- States can get authorization to implement the CWA under EPA oversight.
- Numeric criteria: fecal coliform: 400 cfu/100 ml, nitrate: 10 mg/l, chloride: 100 mg/l
- Every 2 years, each state is required to report on health of all its waters
- Antidegradation policy 1: water quality for existing uses has to be maintained
- Antidegradation policy 2: where water quality if better than necessary to support fishable/swimmable uses, quality has to be maintained unless to allow for economic or social development.
- Antidegradation policy 3: water quality of Outstanding Natural Resource Waters (ONRW) is maintained
- Point source: any discrete conveyance like a pipe or a channel
- Waters that are protected: navigable waterways, non-navigable tributaries of navigable waters. Wetlands adjacent to navigable waterways and adjacent to tributaries
- NPDES – specifies acceptable level of a pollutant in discharge.
- TMDL – total maximum daily load – calculation of maximum amount of a pollutant that a waterbody can receive and still safely meet qater quality standards. TMDL = point source loads + non-point source loads + background + margin of safety.
- Sewage has 100 different pathogens (organisms that cause illness), including viruses, bacteria.
Standard Urban Stormwater Mitigation Plan (SUSMP) – capture treat or infiltrate 100% of the runoff generated from the 85th percentile storm
IBI – index of biotic integrity
Point sources: sewage, industry, stormwater
Nonpoint sources – septics, mining, forestry, marinas, agriculture
California urban water conservation council (CUWCC)
CEQA has to give environmental impact reports before proceeding with development projects.
Primary treatment: coagulants added to make solids clump to bottom of tanks.
Secondary treatment: oxygen pumped in so microorganisms can eat organic materials. Then the water flos into clarifying tanks while microorganisms settle to bottom. 90-95% of the solids have been removed at this point. Solids removed from primary and secondary treatment are digested by anaerobic bacteria.