RANCHO SANTA FE, CALIF. — Drought or no drought, Steve Yuhas resents the idea that it is somehow shameful to be a water hog. If you can pay for it, he argues, you should get your water.
People “should not be forced to live on property with brown lawns, golf on brown courses or apologize for wanting their gardens to be beautiful,” Yuhas fumed recently on social media. “We pay significant property taxes based on where we live,” he added in an interview. “And, no, we’re not all equal when it comes to water.”
Yuhas lives in the ultra-wealthy enclave of Rancho Santa Fe, a bucolic Southern California hamlet of ranches, gated communities and country clubs that guzzles five times more water per capita than the statewide average. In April, after Gov. Jerry Brown (D) called for a 25 percent reduction in water use, consumption in Rancho Santa Fe went up by 9 percent.
But a moment of truth is at hand for Yuhas and his neighbors, and all of California will be watching: On July 1, for the first time in its 92-year history, Rancho Santa Fe will be subject to water rationing.
“It’s no longer a ‘You can only water on these days’ ” situation, said Jessica Parks, spokeswoman for the Santa Fe Irrigation District, which provides water service to Rancho Santa Fe and other parts of San Diego County. “It’s now more of a ‘This is the amount of water you get within this billing period. And if you go over that, there will be high penalties.’ ”
So far, the community’s 3,100 residents have not felt the wrath of the water police. Authorities have issued only three citations for violations of a first round of rather mild water restrictions announced last fall. In a place where the median income is $189,000, where PGA legend Phil Mickelson once requested a separate water meter for his chipping greens, where financier Ralph Whitworth last month paid the Rolling Stones $2 million to play at a local bar, the fine, at $100, was less than intimidating.
All that is about to change, however. Under the new rules, each household will be assigned an essential allotment for basic indoor needs. Any additional usage — sprinklers, fountains, swimming pools — must be slashed by nearly half for the district to meet state-mandated targets.
Residents who exceed their allotment could see their already sky-high water bills triple. And for ultra-wealthy customers undeterred by financial penalties, the district reserves the right to install flow restrictors — quarter-size disks that make it difficult to, say, shower and do a load of laundry at the same time.
In extreme cases, the district could shut off the tap altogether.
The restrictions are among the toughest in the state, and residents of Rancho Santa Fe are feeling aggrieved.
“I think we’re being overly penalized, and we’re certainly being overly scrutinized by the world,” said Gay Butler, an interior designer out for a trail ride on her show horse, Bear. She said her water bill averages about $800 a month.
“It angers me because people aren’t looking at the overall picture,” Butler said. “What are we supposed to do, just have dirt around our house on four acres?”
LOS ANGELES — Farmers with rights to California water dating back to the Gold Rush will face sharp cutbacks, the first reduction in their water use since 1977, state officials announced Friday. State officials announced that rights dating to 1903 would be restricted, but said such restrictions will grow as the summer months go on, with the state facing a prolonged drought that shows few signs of easing.
“Demand in our key rivers systems are outstripping supply,” said Caren Trgovcich, the State Water Resources Control Board’s chief deputy director. “Other cuts may be imminent.”
The cut impacts nearly 300 water right holders in the San Joaquin and Sacramento watersheds and delta whose claim to water came after 1903. State officials said that further curtailments are being considered weekly.
The restrictions could cause the widespread fallowing of cropland in areas that have so far been largely exempt from cutbacks. The impact of the cuts are likely to be felt far more broadly than they were in the 1970s, because the state now has more authority and ability to measure how water from the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta is used.
While officials have said for months that water for so-called “senior” rights holders — those at the front of the line — would be curtailed, they had repeatedly put off such a decision amid the cooler and wetter weather of the last several weeks.
Gov. Jerry Brown received repeated and intense criticism after he issued mandatory cuts on urban water use but exempted farmers from the cut. In a normal year, agriculture uses about 80 percent of the water consumed in the state. Farmers in the Central Valley have already had their surface water allotment diminish or erased for the last several years and instead relied on water pumped from the ground.
In 2014 an ambitious political science graduate student, Michael LaCour, co-authored a ground-breaking paper that blew everyone out of the water. The paper, published in the highly respected journal Science, offered concrete evidence that canvassing voters on electoral issues could markedly influence their opinions and sway their vote.
It contradicted nearly every previous study, and therefore surprised everyone in the field. No one apparently dared to ask the sensitive questions, “Were the results valid? Was the study trustworthy?” After all, it was in Science, and the other author of the paper was a highly respected expert in the field.
It took another ambitious graduate student, David Broockman, nearly two years to discover why LaCour’s study was a complete surprise.
It never happened. It was a complete fake.
Part of why LaCour’s results were so noteworthy was that they flew in the face of just about every established tenet of political persuasion. While past research had shown canvassing can be effective at influencing people in certain ways, the sheer magnitude of effect LaCour had found in his study simply doesn’t happen — piles of previous research had shown that, all else being equal, human beings cling dearly to their political beliefs, and even when you can nudge them an inch to the left or right, people’s views are likely to snap back into place shortly after they hear whatever message you’ve so carefully and cleverly crafted. Not so in this case: When LaCour compared the before-and-after views on gay marriage in his study, he found that opinions had shifted about the distance between the average Georgian and the average Massachusettsian, and this effect appeared to have persisted for months.
So when LaCour and Green’s research was eventually published in December 2014 in Science, one of the leading peer-reviewed research publications in the world, it resonated far and wide. “When contact changes minds: an expression of transmission of support for gay equality” garnered attention in the New York Times and a segment on “This American Life” in which a reporter tagged along with canvassers as they told heart-wrenching stories about being gay. It rerouted countless researchers’ agendas, inspired activists to change their approach to voter outreach, generated shifts in grant funding, and launched follow-up experiments.
But back in 2013, the now-26-year-old Broockman, a self-identifying “political science nerd,” was so impressed by LaCour’s study that he wanted to run his own version of it with his own canvassers and his own survey sample. First, the budget-conscious Broockman had to figure out how much such an enterprise might cost. He did some back-of-the-envelope calculations based on what he’d seen on LaCour’s iPad — specifically, that the survey involved about 10,000 respondents who were paid about $100 apiece — and out popped an imposing number: $1 million. That can’t be right, he thought to himself. There’s no way LaCour — no way any grad student, save one who’s independently wealthy and self-funded — could possibly run a study that cost so much. He sent out a Request for Proposal to a bunch of polling firms, describing the survey he wanted to run and asking how much it would cost. Most of them said that they couldn’t pull off that sort of study at all, and definitely not for a cost that fell within a graduate researcher’s budget. It didn’t make sense. What was LaCour’s secret?
Eventually, Broockman’s answer to that question would take LaCour down.
More at New York Magazine
Broockman discovered that the survey firm that LaCour claimed he had used to canvass voters about gay marriage in fact never worked with LaCour. Emails from a “vice president” at the firm had been forged.
The data set in the paper came from an unrelated study, and had been doctored to provide the results LaCour wanted.
No one caught the fraud, partly because there is a built-in reluctance among researchers to accuse their peers of fraudulent studies. As Broockman was told repeatedly, there’s no future in being a whistleblower.
In the end, however, Broockman and his two collaborators exposed the fraud, because the evidence was compelling. Science and the authors had to publish retractions.
The operator of an underground pipeline that ruptured and released up to 105,000 gallons of crude oil in Santa Barbara County — and tens of thousands of gallons into the ocean — said Wednesday that the spill happened after a series of mechanical problems caused the line to be shut down.
The problems began about 10:45 a.m. Tuesday at two pump stations that move oil through the 11-mile pipeline along the Gaviota Coast, Rick McMichael, director of pipeline operations for Plains All American Pipeline, said at a news conference.
The company said its estimate of 105,000 gallons spilled west of Santa Barbara is a worst-case scenario that was based on the line’s elevation and flow rate — which averages about 50,400 gallons an hour.
Investigators won’t find a cause for the rupture until they excavate the 24-inch wide line, which was installed in 1987, according to a joint statement from government and company officials.
“Absolutely not. In fact, if I could increase it, I would.”
“If I stop bottling water tomorrow,” said Brown, “people would buy another brand of bottled water. As the second largest bottler in the state, we’re filling a role many others aren’t filling. It’s driven by consumer demand, it’s driven by an on-the-go society that needs to hydrate.
This was the answer Nestlé Waters North America CEO Tim Brown gave when Jay Famiglietti, a hydrologist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab, asked him whether he would ever consider moving his company’s bottling operations out of California during an interview with AirTalk’s Larry Mantle.
“If I stop bottling water tomorrow,” said Brown, “people would buy another brand of bottled water. As the second largest bottler in the state, we’re filling a role many others aren’t filling. It’s driven by consumer demand, it’s driven by an on-the-go society that needs to hydrate. Frankly, we’re very happy [consumers] are doing it in a healthier way.”
As the Golden State wheezes its way through a historic drought, criticism for bottled water companies operating factories here has been harsh. Just over a week after a Mother Jones investigation, Starbucks announced that it would be moving bottling operations for its Ethos Water brand from California to Pennsylvania because of severe drought conditions. A day before the Mother Jones story broke, Brown wrote an op-ed in the San Bernardino Sun on why the bottled water industry isn’t contributing to the drought.
On Tuesday, Nestlé said that it is investing $7 million on technology and upgrades that would turn its Modesto milk factory into a “zero water” by extracting water from the milk production process and using it in factory operations.
“We have these cooling towers [for milk] that use water,” says Brown. “Previously, that would have been fresh water that we would’ve drawn out of the municipal supply. Now, we can use our own water that had come previously from the milk. That water, normally, would’ve gone into the waste stream. Now it can be reused or recycled.”
The arrogance and entitlement is French Revolution level.
Given the historic low temperatures and snowfalls that pummeled the eastern U.S. this winter, it might be easy to overlook how devastating California’s winter was as well.
As our “wet” season draws to a close, it is clear that the paltry rain and snowfall have done almost nothing to alleviate epic drought conditions. January was the driest in California since record-keeping began in 1895. Groundwater and snowpack levels are at all-time lows. We’re not just up a creek without a paddle in California, we’re losing the creek too.
Data from NASA satellites show that the total amount of water stored in the Sacramento and San Joaquin river basins — that is, all of the snow, river and reservoir water, water in soils and groundwater combined — was 34 million acre-feet below normal in 2014. That loss is nearly 1.5 times the capacity of Lake Mead, America’s largest reservoir.
Be sure to view the slideshow at the link below. Scary and beautiful images.
Since 2012, California has been in the midst of a record-setting drought, with extremely warm and dry conditions characterizing the last three years in that state. A new paper published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences concludes that warming caused by humans is responsible for the conditions that have led to this California drought.
This study, published by scientists affiliated with the Department of Environmental Earth System Science and the Woods Institute for Environment at Stanford University, used historical statewide data for observed temperature, precipitation, and drought in California. The investigators used the Palmer Hydrological Drought Index (PHDI) and the Palmer Drought Severity Index (PDSI), collected by the National Climatic Data Center, as measures of the severity of wet/dry anomalies. They also used global climate model simulations from the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP) to compare historical predictions for anthropogenic and non-anthropogenic historical climates.
The authors performed their analysis using an approach called bootstrapping. Bootstrapping techniques allow statisticians to utilize the same sample repeatedly to improve their estimates of specific effects. In this analysis, bootstrapping was used to compare the climate data with measures of populations from different time periods to allow for analysis of how changes in population are associated with different climate conditions.
This analysis found that the statewide warming in California occurs in climate models that include both natural and human factors, but not in simulations that only include natural factors. It’s a difference with a very high (0.001) level of statistical significance.
In their discussion and conclusions, the investigators state that their results strongly suggest that anthropogenic (human-caused) warming has increased the probability of co-occurring temperature and precipitation conditions that have historically led to California’s droughts. They also state that continued global warming is likely to lead to situations where every future dry period, whether it’s seasonal, annual, or multiannual, will be accompanied by historically warm conditions.
Updated: Homophobic Christian Taliban Psychopath Matt McLaughlin, Wants California to Kill the Gays!
Image via peaceproject.com
Matt McLaughlin wants to turn America into Uganda! Unlike some of our far right nut jobs, he isn’t content to just encourage their government kill homosexuals, for their “sinful lifestyle.” He recently tried to get something on the ballet that would eliminate any protections for gay people in the state, even going so far as to have them put to death for homosexual sex. I don’t have a picture what of this psychotic hate monger looks like, which is why you don’t see one here. I would like to know what he looks like so I could avoid him if I ever happen to see him.
Anyway his disgusting “Sodomite Suppression Act” would have gay people executed by firing squad and fine anyone who defends gay rights. That means that in addition to killing gay people for being gay, the law would take away our first amendment rights. Not surprising that someone like McLaughlin, who wants America to Kill the gays like Uganda, The Taliban and Saudi Arabia, wouldn’t be a big supporter of free speech.
The initiative would make any homosexual sex a crime punishable by death:
The People of California wisely command, in the fear of God, that any person who willingly touches another person of the same gender for purposes of sexual gratification be put to death by bullets to the head or by any other convenient method.
The extreme nature of the “Sodomite Suppression Act” led many people to question its authenticity. While this piece of legislation is not the law in California, McLaughlin really did file the proposal (along with a $200 filing fee) and can now start collecting the 365,000 signatures required to get the measure on an upcoming ballot.
Even if McLaughlin succeeds in collecting the required signatures, and even if the intiative then passes at the polls, the proposal still will never become law. For one, a California judge declared in 2014 that the state death penalty law was unconstitutional. McLaughlin, however, argues that California should make an exception for homosexuals:
“This law is effective immediately and shall not be rendered ineffective or invalidated by any court, state or federal, until heard by a quorum of the Supreme Court of California consisting only of judges who are neither sodomites nor subject to disqualification hereunder.”
Anyone want to continue to insist that Christian fundamentalists are not as bad as Islamic fundamentalists or that they don’t pose a threat to our freedom?
Anyway, thankfully there’s very little chance something like this would pass In modern day America, in any state, but especially California, which is one of the most liberal states in the Union. Also even if it did pass, it would be so clearly unconstitutional that it would be immediately over turned, if anyone even tried to enforce it. However, the fact that anyone in America, in the twenty first century would think that this would be a good idea, is extremely disturbing.
HSkol just provided us with this link with some more information about McLaughlin. Its nice to know that his intolerance is not being tolerated.
When the rains didn’t fall and the snows didn’t stay, life in the hard-luck Central Valley got harder. Small towns died. Dreams dried up. And the very ground was sinking.
Pumping the earth dry
Up and down these rural Madera roads with fractional names — Avenue 19, Avenue 19 1/2, Avenue 20 — nut trees were going in, wells were going dry and farmers were putting debt-heavy bets on a crop that requires twice as much water as thirsty cotton.
James Turner thought the folks buying up swaths of land for orchards — some of them investment fund managers who had never farmed a day in their lives — were missing the bigger picture.
“You pump all the water out, the land collapses, see? All those pockets where the water is supposed to go, they won’t be there when it does rain,” he said.
“I’ve seen so much stupid in my years that I can’t remember all of it. But pumping the earth dry? We’re killing ourselves, plain and simple.”
More: California’s Dust Bowl