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Friday, March 6, 2015

Lion Sleeps II

Thought I should go ahead and complete our ravishing ramble through Sonoran Desert Déjà Vu. It's been a kind winter here in Arid-zona—wet, like it used to be—as green and lush as I can ever remember. Perhaps if all winters were this rainy, "The Grand Canyon State" would stand a chance of meeting the thirst of its growing suburban sunbelt communities. But we know that's pie-in-the-sky, and you can't eat pie that's in the sky… especially when there isn't water enough for coffee to wash it down.

Water-wize, the only thing keeping Tucson afloat (pun intended) is the Arizona Project, a diversion canal built to transport water all the way from the Colorado River Basin. It's built on the (likely false) assumption that drought won't affect snowy supply states like Colorado. Uh, anyone seen lake Mead lately? It's down over a hundred feet, which equates to roughly half full… or half "empty," depending on whether you are an optimist or pessimist. 

Think of water shortage in terms of money in the bank… there is a finite amount and if you spend (withdraw) more than you deposit (make), you will end up broke (dry). Tucson was depleting it's groundwater supply so fast that the city was actually settling at a rate of 2 inches per year. That's a considerable amount. Enter the great and powerful Oz (the Arizona Project), he pulls levers and yanks ropes and voila. As in the movie Oz, it turns out to be more show than substance—a fireman with a garden hose. All it does is buy more time and create false hope. "Dorothy" and Toto need to find the Wicked Water Witch of the West, and fast. 

The canal water turns out to be unpalatable. Customers are buying bottled water and all in an uproar, and so the desk jockeys try to blend it with the sweet tasting groundwater. It still sucks.

What to do. What to do. Tucson (and Govie) has gone to all the expense of building the "project" and pumping water from the Colorado River. They must find a way to use it or else face liquid "bankruptcy." It is decided by the "deciders," to drill a series of remote deep wells into the supply aquifers and inject the unpalatable water, the idea being that, eventually, bad water will be "sweetened" by good old Mother Earth. Talk about leaving a bad taste in "Mama's" mouth.  

Meanwhile, the Del Webb'ers continue to carve massive subdivisions with fountains that spit into the air and waterfalls that tumble over fake rocks and golf courses that need water hazard ponds, all-the-while ignorant easterners are adding lawns to green up their property like back home. What happens, eventually, when the well runs dry? Why is there no political will to stem the root of all evil, growth? Well, talk about a dumb question… we know the answer to that one.

Fortunately (or unfortunately, yuck) the technology exists to turn wastewater into drinking water. Having a career in drinking water treatment, I've had the "dis-stinked" pleasure of touring such Reverse Osmosis water treatment plants and have actually sampled their end product (pun intended). I can assure you that it tastes fine, but the "psychological taste" is going to take a while for consumers to get use to. 

For now, treated effluent from sewage plants is being used on more and more golf courses. R. O. is too expensive, so settling, digestion, filtration, and chlorination is all that's done for links water. I wouldn't be putting a finger in my mouth or eating without gloves if I were a golfer… just in case some "solids" make it to the sprinkler system. 
"Piece" Out :)
mark and bobbie... 


  1. That is one perfect "crown" on that saguaro. Never have I seen one that perfectly proportioned. Nice find. Now what were those coordinates again? ;-)

  2. If you were where you "belonged" you wouldn't have to ask that question :)
    Grasshoppers will never find these places without help from their Masters...

  3. I have told you a number of times that I only scan your photos but the crested saguaro did grab my attention. Like a big game hunter you did get a trophy with those pictures.

    Lake Mead. I don't think it a question of half full or half empty. It is simply an engineering error. The engineers built a dam that is taller than was necessary to contain the available water.

    As a fulltimer I have never used the local water for drinking at any of the places that I have bee. I always buy bottled water and shy away from those that are described as source - Reverse Osmosis. For the reason that you pointed out I have my doubts about the water before it was subjected to Reverse Osmosis.

  4. Love that crested saguaro with its perfect crest and well balanced arms. I never tire of looking at photos of saguaro:)

  5. I really like that third photo. It is so "busy" with all the rocks and vegetation.
    Gayle (happily drinking reverse osmosis water here in Yuma)

  6. Nice crested cactus. We should go up there one of these days - it's not all that far from here.

  7. Love how green the desert is this year! Thanks for taking me there while I languish in TX.

  8. The desert in its spectacular beauty survives well with its allotted rainfall. Always a people problem. Fantastic crested saguaro.

  9. Agree with your take on the SW water issue. I can't go anywhere near Las Vegas without wondering at the stupidity of the builders/developers/politicians in charge there.

    Have you seen the crested saguaro that's on the U of A campus in Tucson? It's in the 'mall' area of the campus, near the older historic buildings. It's the most beautiful one I've ever seen.

    1. Yes, we did see that crested saguaro while touring the U of A campus a couple of years ago. Thanks!

  10. I am concerned about the chemicals and such that reverse osmosis can't remove.
    Here in the Okla. panhandle, thousands of water wells are pumping up to a billion gallons of water each per year out of the Oglalla aquifer to irrigate crops such as corn to make ethanol so we can burn it in our cars. In effect, burning our water!! And they keep drilling wells!! Also the hog farms in the panhandle are using enormous amounts of water. This will be a wasteland in the foreseeable future when the aquifer plays out.
    Don in Okla.

  11. It just doesn't make sense to landscape in a way that doesn't blend with the environment. Out this way I've seen more and more landscapers going "natural" and indigenous plant sales are on the rise. Only logical as they require less care ( and water).


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