Water Closet for April 10, 2015
[pullquote]”California has severely restricted water use”[/pullquote]The Golden State is now more gold and brown than green and white. The high Sierra Nevada ice house has the lowest spring inventory in years due to a prolonged drought. Snow depth estimates are 5% of average. This enormous ice pack is the source of much of the state’s water.
Daily Californians and the rest of us, are flooded, not with water, but with TV images of Governor Jerry Brown walking above near-empty reservoirs and dry aqueducts. California has severely restricted water use; many think too little too late. Growers in the country’s fruit and vegetable bread basket are exempt. They must, however, now report amounts obtained by their wells tapping aquifers ever deeper. All this to provide cheap food largely out of season. It is then shipped 3000 miles to where local farmers might raise much if they weren’t retiring and selling good level land out to developers. We environmentalists, accused of being innocent of economics, see this as madness.
Unneeded lawns make up much of the modern non-agriculture water use we see. Lawns like much of the crop land out west are now tended by visiting companies’ employees riding well above the soil, “no boots on the ground.”
Lawns in New England don’t need irrigation, but many will get it with a vengeance from May to September. Middleton’s average daily water use on an annual basis is about 65 gallons per person per day. Our now chuck-full reservoirs may in August look like those in California despite over fifty inches of precipitation here a year on average, up from the mid-forties just two decades ago.
In the April 1, 2015 Boston Globe reporter Aneri Pattani received positive reports from a public water supply expert and a hydrologist on water storage in our largest Massachusetts’ reservoirs. They are “feeling full”. Thanks to about 100 plus inches of snow our reservoirs in the Ipswich River Watershed and beyond along the coast both northeast and south are up to or over their dams’ brims. Easter Sunday the old Closeteer, his grandson, and Stream Team photographer visited Emerson Bog and Middleton Pond, two of Danvers Water Department’s reservoirs. In August the Pond, high now, may be down a dozen feet, showing wide, dry beaches like so many reservoirs in the southwest.
The gold in California’s nickname is now clearly water. More than a score of Californian Indian tribes of hunter gathers wiped out by the gold grubbers and other immigrants had known that for millennia. (See Ishi in Two Worlds by archeologist Theodora Kroeber.)
We hope Pattani will follow up with a September report. She and the Globe have given the Stream Team permission to use the latest which follows. Reports of water from around the country should be weekly and more comprehensive.
Winter snows leave Massachusetts reservoirs feeling full – By Aneri Pattani
While the parade of snowstorms this winter brought considerable grief to Massachusetts, a silver lining is starting to emerge as the snow melts.
Fred Laskey, executive director of the Massachusetts Water Resource Authority (MWRA), said the state’s reservoirs are nearly at capacity. “Our reservoirs are basically filled to the brim,” Laskey said. “It’s a positive thing because we’ll be entering the warm weather period with our reservoirs full.” Quabbin Reservoir, the larger of MWRA’s two reservoirs, is holding about 412 billion gallons of water, Laskey said. That is enough to last nearly six years, if it stopped raining tomorrow,” he said. The reservoir is about 94.5 percent full. At this time last year it was at 91.9 percent, Laskey said. The MWRA’s smaller receptacle, Wachusett Reservoir in Clinton, is also nearing its capacity of 65 billion gallons of water, Laskey said.
The actual amount collected might be even greater, he explained, as water has been released from both reservoirs this year to prevent overflow. “We are very nervous about overflow”, Laskey said. “But fortunately, the snow melting process has been textbook perfect.” With temperatures rising above freezing during the day and falling below at night, the snow is melting in slow, controlled manner, he said. “If we’d had heavy rain and very warm weather, it would have been disastrous,” Laskey said. “But we’re almost out of the woods now,” he added. The controlled melt has kept rivers from flooding as well.
Most of the rivers in southern New England are at normal levels, said Ed Capone, a hydrologist at the Northeast River Forecast Center. “The snow is melting just the way we want it to,” he said. While forecasters are predicting rain to fall all day on Friday (April 3), Capone said he did not anticipate any flooding.
(Aneri Pattani can be reached at Aneri.firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter@apattani95.)
WATER RESOURCE AND CONSERVATION INFORMATION
FOR MIDDLETON, BOXFORD AND TOPSFIELD`
|Precipitation Data* for Month of:||Jan||Feb||March||April|
|30 Year Normal (1981 – 2010) Inches||3.40||3.25||4.65||4.53|
|2015 Central Watershed Actual||3.67||3.55||3.62||0.3 as of 4/7**|
Ipswich R. Flow Rate (S. Middleton USGS Gage) in Cubic Feet/ Second (CFS):
For April 7, 2015 Normal . . . 138 CFS Current Rate . . . Unavailable
*Danvers Water Filtration Plant, Lake Street, Middleton is the source for actual precipitation data thru March.
**Middleton Stream Team is source of actual precipitation data for April.
Normals data is from the National Climatic Data Center.
THE WATER CLOSET is provided by the Middleton Stream Team: www.middletonstreamteam.org or <MSTMiddletonMA@gmail.com> or (978) 777-4584