Earth’s Water (Posted By Gary Cutrer)

Been a while since I thought about Earth’s water cycle — seem’s like it was about the fifth grade. Lately, though, I’ve been thinking about water as part of our atmosphere. Did you know that water vapor in the atmosphere is considered a “greenhouse gas?”

The U.S. Geological Survey water website has a good educational section that is about my speed and I stumbled upon a page about the distribution of water on Earth:

A graphical view of the distribution of water resources on planet Earth. Source: USGS website.

A graphical view of the distribution of water resources on planet Earth. Source: USGS website.

The Earth is pretty much a “closed system,” like a terrarium. That means that the Earth neither, as a whole, gains nor loses much matter, including water. Although some matter, such as meteors from outer space, are captured by Earth, very little of Earth’s substances escape into outer space. This is certainly true about water. This means that the same water that existed on Earth millions of years ago is still here.

Now, the USGS lesson states that not much water is being created or destroyed, but I beg to differ. The chemical breakdown of water and its “reassembly” is happening constantly and in great volume. The chemical breakdown of water occurs in growing plant life and animal life. The reassembly occurs when very old and not so old hydrocarbon compounds combust or burn. And, of course those hydrocarbon compounds are the products of once-living plant and animal life, both land- and ocean-based.

Disclaimer: I am not a scientist and have no idea what I am talking about but like to pretend I do.

Introductions, Open Thread (Posted By Gary Cutrer)

lake_travis_2

Lake Travis, Texas.

If you’ve newly found this blog and are interested and plan to visit often, please leave your name or handle and a short comment as an introduction. Feel free to suggest water topics or news of interest!

City will have to Move People:WATER SHORTAGE (Posted By Mike Mecke)

(no, not here in USA or Texas - yet, but too much growth in the wrong places might….and not just due to climate changes!  Several Texas areas are experiencing too much growth with the possiblity of local water shortages in their future.  A saying among water folks is “Water flows uphill to the money!”  Cities/towns often feel like they will need or deserve the “new” water more than nearby agriculture does.  Do you agree?   Or?)

Vanishing glaciers imperil La Paz

Fears are growing for the future of water supplies in one of Latin America’s fastest-growing urban areas – Bolivia’s sprawling capital of La Paz and its twin El Alto.

Scientists monitoring the glaciers high in the Andes mountains – a key source of water – say the ice is showing signs of shrinking faster than previously forecast.

Back in 2005, glaciologist Edson Ramirez, from the University of San Andres in La Paz, predicted that the Chacaltaya glacier would vanish by 2015.

In fact it’s happened several years sooner………………………………………

Faced with a booming population and a combination of glacial retreat and reduced rainfall, the governor of the La Paz region is even contemplating moving people to other parts of Bolivia.

Water is already in short supply among the poorest communities and has become a cause of tension…………………………………..

High impact

I asked the governor of the La Paz region, Pablo Ramos, how he was responding to the latest studies into the future of water supplies.

One answer is that new reservoirs may be built and underground sources tapped.

But it’s clear that these solutions may not be enough and Mr Ramos is starting to consider a far more radical solution – trying to move people away.

He told BBC news: “We are thinking about a planned programme of migration, mainly to the north of the region.”

On a large map in his office, he pointed to an area of well-watered rainforest and explained his plans for new settlements.  For sure there’s going to be a huge movement of people – planned and unplanned.”

La Paz already has one global claim to fame: as the world’s highest capital.

If the most extreme climate predictions are right, and water shortages become severe, it may acquire another claim in coming decades: as the world’s first capital to run so dry that it has to turn people away.

(read the whole article on link)

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/8394324.stm

Law of the Biggest Pump (Posted By Gary Cutrer)

waterside_windmillIn Texas water law, the state owns your surface water, as a general rule, and you must get permission to use that water. The landowner owns water found below the earth’s surface in the crevices of soil and rocks–percolating water. Texas groundwater law is judge-made law, derived from the English common law rule of “absolute ownership.” Texas courts have adopted, and the legislature has not modified, the common law rule that a landowner has a right to take for use or sale all the water that he can capture from below his land.

Because of the seemingly absolute nature of this right to all water beneath your land, Texas water law has often been called the “law of the biggest pump.” Regardless of how it affects your neighbor’s well, you can pump all the water you wish from your wells. However, the case of a subterranean river is different. As landowner, you are presumed to own underground water until it is conclusively shown that the the source of supply is a subterranean river. Both stream underflow and subterranean rivers have been expressly excluded from the definition of underground water in Section 52.001 of the Texas Water Code.

All this information in easy to understand language is available at this Texas A&M and AgriLife Extension website. More:

The practical effect of Texas groundwater law is that one landowner can dry up an adjoining landowner’s well and the landowner with the dry well is without a legal remedy. Texas courts have refused to adopt the American rule of “reasonable use” with respect to groundwater.

Exceptions to Absolute Owner Rule. There are five situations in which a Texas landowner can take legal action for interference with his groundwater rights:

  • If an adjoining neighbor trespasses on the land to remove water either by drilling a well directly on the landowner’s property or by drilling a “slant” well on adjoining property so that it crosses the subterranean property line, the injured landowner can sue for trespass.
  • There is malicious or wanton conduct in pumping water for the sole purpose of injuring an adjoining landowner.
  • Landowners waste artesian well water by allowing it to run off their land or to percolate back into the water table.
  • There is contamination of water in a landowner’s well. No one is allowed to unlawfully pollute groundwater.
  • Land subsidence and surface injury result from negligent overpumping from adjoining lands.

Texas Water 2010 Conference April 13-16 (Posted By Gary Cutrer)

texas_water_2010Texas Water 2010 is billed as the “Largest regional water conference in the U.S.,” this annual meeting is presented by the Texas Section of the American Water Works Association.