Week in review – water edition

by Judith Curry

Too little, too much, dammed and dirty.

Too little

SOUTH ASIA WATER STRESS: Water Wrangles: As Karnataka & Tamil Nadu slug it out, #Pakistan wages #WaterWar on #India [link]

CANADA NOVA SCOTIA: Wendy Elliott reflections on #Drought: Water, water, but not everywhere [link]

USA OREGON DISASTER MANAGEMENT: How To Prepare Water For The Cascadia Subduction Zone Earthquake [link]

Find out about water conservation issues facing young #farmers in the U.S. west,  [link]

Interview with @jfleck about the more optimistic side of water in the west. [link]

Too much

China’s devastating floods can be traced back to corruption and overbuilding [link]

Welcome to Carlisle, the British City With a Climate Change Bull’s-Eye [link]

My Drowning City Is a Harbinger of Climate Slums to Come [link]

UK’s National Flood Resilience Review published [link]

Climate change confusion over UK government’s flooding review [link]

USA CLIMATE POLICY: US strategy for flood resilience is underwater [link]

India and Nepal need more information about melting Tibetan glaciers from China to plan for flash floods [link]

EXTREME FLOODING: #FloodControl lessons from #Louisiana deluge [link] …

Satellite data is saving lives with flood forecasting in #Bangladesh [link]

India Ganges #Floods Break All Previous Records [link]

Thousands of US homes keep flooding over and over, yet we keep rebuilding them the same way [link]


Mega project to take 4 billion m3 of water from Mekong River [link]

Rivers, canals gradually dying in Mekong River Delta  [link]

China couldn’t get the Myitsone dam in Myanmar built. Chinese leaders can’t seem to let it go. [link] …

Life of the Salween highlights Southeast Asia’s dam concerns [link]

Utah wants to spend $1.5 billion on dams even the industry says are unnecessary. Why? [link]

Victory in Chile! Dams scrapped on five wild rivers: [link]


USA MISSOURI: Move to remake state water commission draws ire & concern; open season for #BigAG [link]

USA MASSACHUSETTS: Beer Test: Making beer with Boston #CharlesRiver water [link]

NIGERIA: That unregulated #BottledWater may quench thirst or kill [link] … “Huge population, no potable water”

USA FLORIDA: Fertilzer plant sinkhole dumps 215M gals of reprocessed water into #FloridanAquifer  [link]

WATER MICROBIOLOGY: For First Time Ever, Superbugs Found In #DrinkingWater ” [link]

Why is the “humble loo” the world’s greatest innovation? [link]

Widespread groundwater contamination in the Indo-Gangetic Basin [link]

Ethiopia’s Nile River dam is the world’s mos important hydro project right now, but no one talks about it [link]

WATER INNOVATION: Six innovations to quench the global thirst for clean water #WWWeek [link]

Sea level rise

#ClimateChange & US Housing: Will Rising Tides Sink Homes? 2M homes (2%) worth $882B at risk by 2100 [link]

USA FLORIDA: Editorial: No denying #ClimateChange impact in Florida [link]

You’d believe in global warming, too, if Turnbull gave you $300 million. UPDATED: Growing, not sinking [link]

Yikes. When NYC sinks – @riceid’s unsettling dystopian view of our future. [link]

Even a ‘Great Wall of Manhattan’ can’t save #NYC from impact of climate change. [link]

34 responses to “Week in review – water edition

  1. The human ego in fact controls little in nature, even when inflated to the max by consensus scientific dogma.

  2. You linked to a nonsensical article by the New York Times about flooding in Carlisle.

    The article itself notes;

    ‘This working-class city is particularly vulnerable because it was rainy to begin with, and it also sits at the meeting of three rivers, with many homes built on flood plains.’

    Precisely. The population has grown from 45000 in 1900 to over 100,000. today. It is current policy to dredge rivers as little as possible to protect wildlife.

    Wet climate. Confluence of 3 rivers. Little dredging. Rapidly expanding population. Many houses built on flood plains….What could possibly go wrong?


  3. There is nothing happening in the world today that hasn’t been happening for thousands of years and ultimately, it all comes down to money. The only difference is that what once was measured in salt, gold, denarius, pounds or millions of dollars is now billions or trillions of dollars. The scale of the cost is way beyond the mental capacity of 100 Senators making economic decisions in a centrally planned economy that turns everyone from doctors to teachers into government employees..

  4. China is reeling under the country’s most devastating floods in over a decade. Weeklong flooding has killed more than 180 people, affected 32 million people across 26 provinces on the mainland, and led to losses of 50 billion yuan (about $7 billion), according to the latest figures from the state flood control office on July 3.

    By Chinese historical standards, that is tame flooding. Tamed in large part by the flood control system built up by the Chinese. They probably will not suffer hundreds of thousands dead (maybe millions) from flooding, as in previous decades.

    China’s devastating floods can be traced back to corruption and overbuilding

    Oh, yes — the corruption, incomplete projects, and overbuilding have left buildings at risk for flooding, more than planned. But the flooding can be “traced back” to rainfall. In 1964, in Taiwan, my high school flooded about as deep as the sports stadium shown in the picture; my school survived (lots of people lost books and clothing), and I expect the stadium will survive.

    The author of that article does not seem to have any composure or perspective. Maybe updates will show that the problem is more serious than I took away from the article.

    • The US also has a large, distributed and dam-based flood control system, which has greatly reduced flooding. But new construction was basically stopped around 1970, as an unintended consequence of the National Environmental Policy Act. The Chinese may be smarter than that.

      • Yep, the Chinese don’t care about no stinkin’ environment, and that’s what they got.

      • Jim D: You think flood control is bad for the environment? Because destructive floods are good for it? Your confusion is the problem.

      • You can go into individual cases where you think a dam would have prevented a flood, if you want, but I was making a general statement about what not caring about the environment gets you: Chinese-style pollution. In fact, I believe we will need more dams, because of climate change, to maintain reliability in water resources, but that’s a different story.

  5. Your link ‘Climate change confusion over UK government’s flooding review ‘
    leads to an article claiming that December 2015 was the wettest December on record in the UK. No it wasn’t.


    rain fall records held by the Met Office are based on a paper by Phil Jones. They date back to the 1770’s. According to those records last December was the 20th wettest on record. Mind you, the deluges of rain at various times especially in the 16th, 14th and 13th century make the current events pale into significance.

    The 2015/16 winter-which was previously touted as by far the warmest on record was beaten by that of 1859.

    We had very excitable newspaper headlines last week that the mini heat-wave (3 days) included the warmest ever September day on record. Looking further into it, it was the warmest since 1910 which itself was beaten in 1905.

    Long records are useful. Its a shame they aren’t consulted more often.


    • Shorter records are easier to break, hence greatly preferred by alarmists. It is even better when these so-called records are actually recent estimates of long past events, generated by adjustable statistical models. Normally one has to have an actual record before it can be broken, but not in climate, where the records are inventions.

  6. We do not build dams, we build reservoirs, which are very useful. No one ever built a dam just to have it sit there doing nothing. But water storage, which is what dams are for, sounds too good so we revile dams.

  7. “China couldn’t get the Myitsone dam in Myanmar built. Chinese leaders can’t seem to let it go. [link] …”

    There is 40 feet of flood water rise along the Irrawaddy River from monsoon to the dry season. At summer’s slack, shallow draft vessels bump from sandbar to sandbar, sailors with sticks testing the waters’ depth. “Mark Twain”.

    Villagers along the banks walk down the steep slopes to wash their laundry and bath. Petroleum for diesel generators and diesel powered water pumps is brought up-river by boats barely 30 feet long, narrow and powered by smokey outboard diesel engine with a long-shaft and a propeller at the end, the engine and shaft swung side to side to maneuver the craft. Not a lot of diesel gets up-stream during the dry season, when the rice crops need irrigation most.

    On our journey from Mandalay to Rangoon, following as we did Rudyard Kipling’s poem, we only learned about life at River flood stage through the markings along the upper banks, which made it clear were the water levels regularly does reach such heights.

    The partially built Myitsone dam would hold back the mighty Irrawaddy, interrupting the ebb and flow of the culture that has developed along its banks for thousands of years. And, to hear what some of villagers were saying, the Chinese would not only take the electricity the dam produced, but some of the water impounded as well.

    It is conceivable that many of people of Myanmar would accept a change in River water level regulation if the electricity produced from the dam would make its way, and provide electric power to villages all the way to Rangoon.

    No chance the Chinese would build such a structure and then live off the “good will”, finding other ways to benefit from the connection to the Indian Ocean.

    • The benefit you describe is called “low flow augmentation” in water resource engineering. I suspect folks would be happy to change their culture a bit to take advantage of it. A prominent case in the US is the Monongahela River above Pittsburgh PA, which was often so low in summer as to be mostly unnavigable. However, the Mon was canalized, which is a different solution.

  8. “But even more important is the fact that ethanol adds oxygen to gasoline – improving combustion and reducing toxic exhaust emissions. Adding ethanol to gasoline also dilutes the potency of the petroleum-based toxic chemicals. Unlike gasoline, ethanol rapidly biodegrades in surface water, groundwater and soil, and is the safest component in gasoline today. Source: Renewable Fuels Association”
    I posted this here as at the link, water arguments about ethanol are made.
    My score is for it, then against it, then for it with reservations.
    It used to be, one was lucky to get 100,000 miles out of an auto. With Ethanol, 200,000 miles is not that unusual. I have a question as there’s lots of common knowledge about motorcycles and Ethanol. For a 1986 parrallel twin Honda, Ethanol, yes or no? Bonus question, which fuel is more likely to seperate in the tank, leading to tank rust through? I really want know.

  9. My Drowning City Is a Harbinger of Climate Slums to Come [link]

    “The wall stops water from entering downtown by pushing it, like the prow of a ship, to either side, turning our neighborhoods into sacrifice zones.”
    Here’s what no regrets looks like. Not more insurance, make sacrifice zones, that’s what nature does. She has identified river management as a problem. Not only was the river altered, some of that was poorly maintained.

    “Finally, real-estate capitalism kicks in. Filling the gap in affordable housing in small historic cities facing gentrification pressures, landlords buy up abandoned buildings in climate-vulnerable neighborhoods for cash and offer them as low-cost rentals. Because homes bought for cash carry no mortgages, there’s no requirement that they carry flood insurance. The result of this process are hypervulnerable climate slums.”
    You have to have flood insurance, so says the government and/or the banks. That can make it unaffordable unless someone finds a way around it. That of course leads to exploitation of the poor. If flood insurance had to be purchased, who would pay for it? Not the poor. It would the capitalists. Sure. An insurance requirement if the premiums were high enough would result in the desired sacrifice zones as everything was abandoned. Of course that would be the capitalists fault.

    The author charts out her own course. She will not have insurance. If her house is washed away, so be it. She’ll take the risk until a combination of nature and man, make her leave. That is her adaptation. A probable abandonment.

  10. Plants need CO2 and H20.

    Burning hydrocarbons produces both, with the added benefit of concentrated useable heat (energy).

    According to humans, there’s a shortage of potable H20. According to plants, there’s a shortage of CO2 as well.

    Help the biosphere! Burn more stuff!


  11. A solution to water in the US West. From my 2010 article, One possibility on the national level is a water transfer system from the Missouri River at Kansas City, that runs approximately 800 miles southwest to the continental divide in New Mexico, just south of Interstate Highway 40. From there, the water would flow into tributaries of the Colorado River. The hydroelectric plants are already in place on Hoover Dam and Glen Canyon Dam. Therefore, some of the power expended to pump the water uphill and 800 miles would be recovered. The elevation change is on the order of 6,000 feet.

    The water route will be through the U.S.’ great wind corridor, so it is conceivable to use electricity from wind turbines to provide energy to the pumps. How the water is transferred is of course an engineering problem; one solution is to use a buried pipeline, or build a series of open canals with a slight downward slope to the southwest, and install water lift (pumping) stations at regular intervals. Something of the same magnitude was done by the construction of the Erie Canal in New York state, which runs approximately 365 miles, and 600 feet uphill. It took 8 years to build and was finished in 1825.


    • Fine as long as you can build the cost of land acquisition, construction and maintenance of the project into the price of the water it provides. It should be financed using revenue bonds with no recourse to public funds.

    • Not a bad idea.

      And both solar (PV) and wind could be used to power it. With appropriately sized reservoirs and transmission up and down the route, intermittent solar and wind could be used to provide the entire pumping power, while the recovered energy would be fully dispatchable.

  12. It is clear that water managers in California strive to limit population growth, or decrease population by purposefully limiting water availability.

    Water in California is a perennial topic due to frequent shortages, droughts, and woefully inadequate storage. In a state with adequate rain and snow, plus a huge and extensive mountain range with hundreds of valleys, one might expect that water storage would not be an issue. Yet, it is. The explanation is that state officials may say one or various things, but the reality is that no more storage is being provided. Instead, state officials insist that citizens must conserve, use less. There are now fines and penalties if one does not conserve enough water. It is notable that the state has a token budget for modifying or expanding the water storage, but even the popular Governor Schwarzenegger could not obtain legislative approval for a new major dam and lake. In my view, it is never going to happen. More water means more population, and that simply cannot be tolerated by those who run the state.

    State water managers also make the problem worse by wasting perfectly good water, letting the few storage lakes that exist send precious water down the rivers and into the ocean. This is done, they claim, to provide adequate room in the storage reservoirs for the Spring snow melt and runoff. The storage lakes perform double-duty in California, as is the case in many other states: the lakes mitigate or prevent catastrophic flooding, and they provide water year-round. Many of the lakes also have a third purpose, they generate electricity as the water flows through hydraulic turbines. Note that it is also nearly impossible, and quite time-consuming, to obtain all the permits required to desalinate seawater to provide fresh water to California.


  13. stevefitzpatrick

    5, 6, 7 feet of sea level rise by 2100? Please. 84 years from now and sea level to rise 7 feet means 25 mm per year on average. Current rise is a bit over 3 mm per year and has been pretty much constant over the past two decades. Reaching an average of 25 mm/year means ~50 mm per year by 2100. So we need to start seeing acceleration of about 0.6 mm per year per year. In other words, within 5 years, the rate of rise needs to approximately double to 6 mm per year. Not going to happen. Each year that acceleration is not actually happening means even greater acceleration is needed later. Not going to happen.

    When reality is not scary enough, global warming lunatics just make stuff up. Would be funny were it not so foolish and dangerous.

  14. The article about the impact of “climate change” on flooding in Florida is an example of the irresponsible knee jerk reaction of politicians in our modern era. Sea level has been rising at between 2mm-3mm per year for hundreds of years (at least according to records from Battery Park, London, and denmark). This is NOT a new phenomenon. What IS new is that our local, state, and Federal governments have allowed development in areas that are known to be prone to flooding.Some of the houses destroyed by Hurricane Sandy were build on lands created by the 1937 hurricane in the same region-why did they build there? Why were they allowed to build there? What is going on in our society is absolute lunacy. The politicians have absolute conviction about something that is enormously complex and uncertain. Their motivations have nothing to do with our ecology or science…It’s all about establishing a new tax base with global implications.

    Sorry for the rant, but, I’m SO tired of blind, knee jerk reactions that blame every weather phenomenon on “Climate Change.”

  15. How have wind turbines and solar panels stood up to tornadoes and hurricanes?

  16. Pingback: Vatten, bara vanligt vatten - Stockholmsinitiativet - Klimatupplysningen

  17. What if? What if addressing water issues leads to greater releases of GHG’s which then therefore leads to further needs for adaptation and mitigation?

    IMO, it all starts with land use.


  18. This working-class city is particularly vulnerable because it was rainy to begin with, and it also sits at the meeting of three rivers, with many homes built on flood plains.