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November 27, 2012


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good post Jon,
following is from a good friend of Edward Abbeys. May his desert resting place go undisturbed.

Cal, i thought you would like to know that all of arizona's problems were caused by well meaning guys and no one could have predicted the future we now face. i especially like the line where the reporters note that unregulated grazing in the national forest was the result of good intentions. is there something in the phoenix air that destroys cognition? I remember years ago being in a public debate with grady gammage jr in mesa where he fessed up that “you can't sell phoenix if you can see the sun.” no shit.

As Enron and the Wall Street melt-down demonstrates, you can't pull off a good con, unless you enlist your colleagues to go along(by cutting them in on the take) and keep quiet while you fleece the suckers. Everybody in Phoenix was in on the con for years and profited from the new sheep that moved here, myself included.
Now the bill is coming due and I just hope I have saved enough to make it through the next 20 years of retirement.

Elliot Pollack, tool of the RIC:

Pollack said much of the growth will be in outlying areas because there is not enough infill land to meet the demand for housing.

He also dismissed speculation that the Valley will run out of water.

“There is not now, nor will there ever be, a water shortage,” said Pollack, adding that increasing water rates would reduce use and extend supply.


Pollack has been dealt with before on this blog. He is an apologist for the Real Estate Industrial Complex. Nice guy. No credibility in the real world. Nevertheless, he is good for a quote and popular on the rubber-chicken circuit. He says what the Growth Machine people want to hear. So he retains his influence, despite being blindsided by the crash. Pollack is also a developer, not just an "economist," a fact rarely disclosed.

The business model of population growth never works. Eventually everything is plundered, incinerated, or mined out.

We have all read of the "Sun Corridor" wet dream that would put 9 MILLION people between Prescott and Tucson . . . forget the fact that we have neither the infrastructure nor the resources to support this magical thinking. Grady Gammadge, Michael Crow and the Morrisson Commission have all admired this pile of delusional bullshit.

Jon-thanks for the link to the Bruce Bartlett article on Front Page.It was the "mea culpa" I have been looking for.

Two fundamental issues remain unaddressed:

(1) It's a fairly well established economic principle that significantly raising the price of a good or service tends to reduce individual consumption. Over-subscribed goods/services suffer from significant price increases, absent subsidies.

If increasing the price of water causes a decrease in per capita consumption, that allows the same amount of water to serve a larger population.

The average Phoenix resident uses 107 gallons of water per day (for Scottsdale this is 219). Granted, the figures may be misleading to the extent that they include not only residential but also agricultural, industrial, and other high-use institutional consumers; but even so, doesn't this leave quite a bit of room for a decrease in per capita consumption and, consequently, for additional population growth?

Conversely, if the cost of water (and those goods/services for which water is a significant cost-input) becomes onerous enough to discourage immigration from other states or even to encourage emigration from the Phoenix metro area to less water-challenged cities out of state, doesn't this substantially reduce or eliminate the potential problem of local over-subscription?

When you talk about future water shortages, exactly what do you mean? Do you mean that when people turn on their taps no water will come out (or only a trickle)? Isn't it likely that long before that point, price increases will have reduced per capita consumption to manageable levels?

(2) CAP takes its full allocation of 1.5 million acre-feet of Colorado River water every year whether it has buyers or not. In the 15 years (1996-2011) since the Arizona Water Banking Authority was established, CAP has taken 22.5 million acre-feet of water, but it has dumped ("banked") 4 million, or roughly 18 percent of the water it has taken over this period.

If this doesn't indicate excess water supply at present in the areas which CAP serves (which include metropolitan Phoenix and Tucson), then what does it indicate?

Your points are well taken.

To make a partial stab: The price mechanism may "work" but the end result will push at many of the things that make Phoenix appealing, from swimming pools and golf courses to the relatively lush and cooling neighborhoods such as Arcadia, North-Central and the historic districts. So there will be trade-offs, many unpleasant (and unnecessary, if more sensible land use were pursued). Water limiting pop. growth will happen, too, but again much more damage will need to happen.

I have many questions about the banking. How easily can it be retrieved? Has it been contaminated? Can it really offset vast groundwater losses that are ongoing? Are the numbers accurate?

McKinnon told me he really liked the post ("spot on").

Excellent article! This is what the free-market theologians call a 'failure of the market.' And what a massive failure it will be!

It is my understanding that once an aquifer begins to collapse, it cannot be "refilled". All the subsidence around the valley is evidence of
the aquifers collapsing.

So, no, I don't buy the "water banking".

The very instant that price pressure on water rises to the point to cause limits on population growth is the same instance where culling of the population will begin. In the cold calculation of economics, this "works," but one has to ask oneself just how that might manifest? Some will have the means to stay and pay, some will have the means to return or relocate to other parts of the country, others perhaps will "deport themselves," as "someone" suggested... but what of the significant portion that can't so easily respond? That is a whole 'nother matter, one may be tempted to respond.

So disposable, the poors.

The Archdruid is "on topic" today:

The Border

Senator Kyl brokered the settlement of a longstanding legal case, where Arizona tribes now have the water rights to almost 50% of our state's Colorado River flows. This remains a well-kept secret and it is too soon to know much about how strategic they'll be in their optimization of this newfound resource.

I would imagine that water would be priced cheaply for a minimum daily use, but then increase dramatically for what is deemed recreational or esthetic (pools, golf courses, landscaping, water parks). Of course the battles over gardens and urban farms will be nothing over the angry protests from golfers, golf course owners, and those with pools (all of whom have much more political clout).

Leaving it up to the market could result in a Bolivian-style revolution -- after all, water is an essential element for life (which in most places trumps development).

Kyl, the senator that keeps taking and taking. I wonder what he got in return from the tribes?

Mr. Talton wrote:

"I have many questions about the banking. How easily can it be retrieved? Has it been contaminated? Can it really offset vast groundwater losses that are ongoing? Are the numbers accurate?"

Good questions.

The McKinnon article pointed out that because Colorado River water is muddy and stains faucets, etc., cities like Tucson which use CAP water (i.e., blending it into their municipal supplies) already perform water banking: by allowing the water to pool and seep into the aquifer, it is partially filtered. They then pump it out and blend/treat the results.

As both you and McKinnon point out, the infrastructure in other areas where the water is "banked" is non-existent. I would expect that the practicality of its recovery will depend in large part on future water prices.

As for adulteration, again that depends on the specific details of where the water is "banked" and on past/present/future industrial and mining projects.

For my part, I didn't emphasize recovery of the "banked" water because it really isn't that much: only two and a half years worth thus far.

The interesting aspect for me was that the very existence of substantial dumping of unsold water (averaging 18 percent of the annual CAP allocation over the last 15 years) suggested ongoing excess supply, which in turn suggests some flexibility in population growth simply on that basis, apart from the separate question of price/demand curve dynamics.

But another question that occurs to me is to what extent that 18 percent average is weighted in past years versus more recent years. The Phoenix metro area saw substantial growth during the late 1990s and much of the 2000s. So, it would be nice to find out what the current dump percentage is, before counting on that as extra water.

Yes, the Indian tribes control about half of the CAP allocation. However, McKinnon's second article suggested that most of that is leased by the tribes to cities and other users. The big exception is the Gila River Reservation which is apparently embarking on a far-reaching restoration of the river as well as a return to past farming traditions.

The biggest obstacle to water conservation is the fact that water is priced as cheaply as... water.

It's a nuisance to turn the tap on and off every time you want to wet your razor or toothbrush: it's not uncommon to see someone leave the tap open the whole time. Fifteen minutes of that uses 45 gallons of water. Multiply that by a million residents, and you get 45 million gallons wasted per day just in a single city.

Find a dead bug on the floor -- and flush it down the toilet. Wash the car with a hose until a river runs down the street gutters. Run the sprinklers (spray, not drip) for long periods, in the middle of the day when evaporation wastes the most -- gotta keep those lawns green under the blistering Phoenix sun, right?

Water is cheap because it is plentiful. When it isn't, relative to the demands of a particular population, then prices will increase, and to a proportionate extent, so will water conservation.


I would throw in one more thought: Water as an investment in shade trees in the center city and historic oasis areas is important. I'd rather preserve these areas and have more shade than conserve water only to have it used to engage in more sprawl.

Mr. Talton wrote:

"The price mechanism may "work" but the end result will push at many of the things that make Phoenix appealing, from swimming pools and golf courses..."

These days a lot of golf courses use effluent. However, that may be increasingly problematic.

Some excerpts from "Fountain Hills Golf Courses Fear Water Shortage" (Arizona Republic, May 2012):

Jeff Lessig,SunRidge Canyon's general manager, said the golf industry is a "huge driver" of tourism and the town relies heavily on sales-tax revenue provided by the golf courses.

"I don't know what industry in Fountain Hills generates more tax dollars than golf courses," he said.

. . . In years past, the district had an overabundance of reclaimed water, but that has changed, because of increased demand by Eagle Mountain (Golf Course), drought conditions and poor economic conditions since the end of 2008, said Ron Huber, the sanitary district's manager.

. . . Eagle Mountain (Golf Course) had been mixing drinking water with reclaimed water for irrigation, but in 2008 began using reclaimed water only as the cost of drinking water from Chaparral City Water Co. increased 110 percent since 2005, said Joe Miller, Eagle Mountain's golf course superintendent.

In the summer, the average golf course uses slightly less than 1 million gallons of reclaimed water each day...


A scientist or an engineer I am not.
Failed every math and science course I signed up for in school.
But I can count to 10. So you all can do the math.
When the planet gets to 10 billion there is still enough water to sustain the population in a humane manner?
How about 30 billion.
My scientific brain says we should talk about the math related to human population growth when trying to "engineer" the water.
Whats your number?
I know. We run water tankers from Mars!

Side bar: All the chatter about the Zunis with a few of us and Ray from the New Times back a blog.
Guess what? The current issue of The New Times has an article on how Arizona and the LDS folks that own the town of Eagar dug up a Zuni burial ground and scattered (or maybe collected for personal use and gain)Zuni sacred bones and related artifacts all over "gods" creation,
so the broke state of Arizona could build a fishing pond for the poo folks of Eager

cal lash
and his phantom dog Spot
from their motor home somewhere
in the great Sonoran Desert
what's left of it

Punitive water rates work REAL GOOD.

We imposed them in our water district up north and usage dropped overnight.

No suffering by anyone except the few abusers.

Two folks ran up $1,000+ bills and screamed bloody murder. Our response was, "will that be cash or charge?"

They paid. Guess they got thirsty.


I was just making fresh corn tortillas and I channeled my ancestors of 1000 years ago as they were making corn tortillas here in the valley of the salty river.

They were sitting around hoping that the Asians would arrive first with their marijuana before the white devils from Europe arrived with their stuck up, screwed up views on life.

You gotta love fresh, homemade corn tortillas.

Corn Tortillas and do you have enough water to make beer?

H2O, While we are on water Do U think the Missouri River should be forced to give water to the Mississippi River, so the Coal Barges will not run aground and
Do U think god will answer wealthy Lake Michigan beach front property owners prayers and raise the lake back up at least 5 feet so their property values wont tank?
And will globe warming at 3 times the rate of 1990 throw enough water on Wealthy California beach properties to see them float to Japan.

And the US Congress is still fighting over the debt limit. Let it go over the cliff and the congress drown in their own muddy waters.

Speaking of water and huge amounts used in fracking and the like.
Will progressive democrats and environmentalists jump in with John McCain, NO WAY for Rice. Will be interesting to see where Obama lands on this issue.


I posted the following on Petro's blog but will post here as it pertains to water.
Peteo, Re your
The Archdruid is "on topic" today:
The Border.
In 84 a Mexican pal of mine said you know we are going to take it back. I said, hows that Gil. He said population.
about a year ago I did a case in Cuervo NM. The Spaniard property owner told me that some Spaniards there are still sitting on land grants from the queen of Spain. He said they dont run much stock on them as the frackers have depleted the ground water.

My response to Mexican irredentism is always, "Whose land was it before you drew your line?".

OT, but of interest to readers and writers:

...the ability to collect data about how people read has the potential to revolutionize the industry by helping publishers tailor books to their audiences. “We already know publishers use sales to determine what they’re going to publish next,” [publisher Noah Genner] says. “So I’m sure they’ll use every piece of data they can get their hands on.”

Your e-reader is watching

Publishing has always been consumer-driven (an artifact of our capitalist culture), but the data has been too sketchy so far to create a true echo-chamber effect among the reading public. This would increase that effect... not such a bad thing with fiction, I suppose, but what about (ostensible) non-fiction, like historical meditations?

These are the kind of dodgy water deals that make me suspicious:


Mr. Talton wrote:

"I would throw in one more thought: Water as an investment in shade trees in the center city and historic oasis areas is important. I'd rather preserve these areas and have more shade than conserve water only to have it used to engage in more sprawl."

Absolutely. Shade trees make any neighborhood much more livable and attractive, and decrease the area's air-temperature whether you're actually shaded or not.

This is especially noticeable after hours, when the difference between a heat-sink re-radiating the heat and a green zone that actively cools through evaporation presents an obvious contrast. The trees (and some are better at this than others) act like extremely efficient micro-droplet misting systems.

It can easily make the difference between an uncomfortable summer evening and a comfortable one. The temperature can be 10 degrees or more lower compared to a largely concrete and asphalt area. This decreases the amount that air conditioners need to work, which in turn saves water in power generation and elsewhere.

What's ironic is the reluctance to provide such trees, when the typical golf course uses about 1 million gallons per day in the summer. Multiple that by the more than 150+ golf courses in the greater Phoenix area, and you're talking about 150 million gallons per day.

I doubt that even a city full of shade trees with deep root systems supplemented by efficient drip irrigation systems could use anywhere near this amount.

I think these are the figures for CAP water banking by year since 1997.





The trend in both cases is a decrease in banked water. The 2012 figure (both statewide and for Phoenix) is less than half of the annual average from 1997 through 2004.

Presumably this is the result of an increase of water buyers which results in less surplus to be "banked".

I wrote:

"Presumably this is the result of an increase of water buyers which results in less surplus to be "banked". "

Sorry, this was hasty.

The figure for 2007 is close to the earlier average and the amount of water banked since 2007 has dropped precipitately despite the fact that population in the state and in the metro Phoenix area has basically been static since 2007.

It's possible that CAP has sold more water despite a comparative lack of population growth, because a decrease in other sources of water caused existing buyers to turn increasingly to CAP supplies. However, it is also possible that some other dynamic is at work.

There needs to be a study on the present health and future viability of our golf industry, since it is still widely hailed as an economic driver. Among the relevant factors:
• aging demographics of some core users
• longer, hotter drier summers tend to shorten and reduce revenue in the "shoulder seasons".
• concerns about availability of effluent are now being well-reported.

Placed on a trend curve, the business of golf may already be on the "post-peak" side.

Jim, around 1900 I heard Douglas Arizona had a sand and dirt only golf course.

Here's a web site with the type of golf we should incorporate into the desert.


Pollack is quoted in the AZ Repukelic article,

"“There is not now, nor will there ever be, a water shortage,” said Pollack, adding that increasing water rates would reduce use and extend supply."

Typical Arizonan arrogance and stupidity. Such a stupid place. No intellectual foundation at all.

Pollack is also quoted,

"Longer term, Pollack said the Phoenix area will add 1million people and 200,000 homes within the next eight to 10 years. Baby Boomers have delayed their retirement but many of them eventually will retire in the Valley, he said."

Another unfounded assertion. This guy is a terrible, but typical, example of the brainless people associated with ASU, a rising rightist university known for providing one of the best winter tans.

The use of words like "Forever" remind me of fundamental religious folks rather than scientific inquiry. Pollock seems to write to folks in denial due to greed or ignorance. It would seem maybe you could reduce the (Malthian)population of anyplace there is a need for water by increasing the price. If we reach a point on the planet that people are dying due to a shortage of water why not work on a solution to not have so many people. Not to worry say some of my religious friends, God will handle it. I doubt that. I think the passage of time stands a better chance and earth will just keep spinning long after we are gone. Dont forget drink 8 glasses of water today, along with your breakfast burritos and your Green Chile Martinis.

Jmav, its always been a right wing college. Around 50 years ago state political kooks ran off the only communist that taught at ASC or as it is now called ASU.

I should correct the communist statement. Should have been "alleged communist" as the professor in question and many others thought he got railroaded out of his job.

regarding adding people and water, I believe it has been posted here before that a group of Investors including some of Phoenix "finest" bought the Toyota aquifer south of Wickenburg near Tonopah
with plans to add 4 million more folks.

Forget this insignificant water talk.

More importantly, Cal, is there really a Green Chili Martini?

Please send the recipe as soon as possible.

REB, Make your martini as you regularly do. Add an ounce of juice from a bottle of green chilis. Grind up and slightly roast in a skillet an ounce of your favorite weed. Toss it all in a blender, do not shake or stir but whir. Fill a large glass full of CAP water and keep close by as u drink your Green Chili Martini. A couple of these and you will think you are floating a Damless Colorado River.

jmav wrote:

"Pollack is quoted in the AZ Repukelic article..."

Pollack is not quoted in any of the three McKinnon articles on water linked to at the top of Mr. Talton's commentary. The quotes in question come from a separate article by Peter Corbett on the subject of economic recovery in Arizona ("Recovery stays slow in Arizona").

I don't see anything controversial in Pollack's claim that increasing water rates will decrease use and extend supply. That's straight out of Econ 101. If you disagree, please explain why.

I don't think that Pollack is all that "right-wing". The same article quotes him in the context of federal budgeting:

"If anyone tells you we don’t need spending cuts and tax hikes, they’re a (expletive) moron," said Pollack, apologizing for his profanity. "We have to have tax increases."


When was the last time you heard a right-winger say "we have to have tax increases" and call Grover Norquist types "morons"?

OT: Speaking of tax hikes, it's too bad that Obama won't be able to apply a line-item veto (Clinton applied this 82 times to the federal budget before the courts shot down the law granting this power).

If he could, then all that would be needed is to allow the "fiscal cliff" to eliminate the Bush tax cuts, then wait for Congress to restore them and then line-item veto the section dealing with the top marginal tax rate.

Of course, it can be argued that the courts invalidated this for excellent reasons and that, in the hands of a Republican President overseeing a Democratic Congress, the results could be disastrous. Still, I wonder if Obama couldn't find an ace or two up his sleeve?

Are there any policy wonks here who can offer informed speculation?

"cal Lash" wrote:

"why not work on a solution to not have so many people..."

Such as what? Forced sterilization or forced birth control? Fines or jail time for having too many kids?

Who is going to enforce any of this, much less in the places in the world where population is expected to take off in the coming decades? There is no international body authorized to enact and enforce such laws. Most national governments wouldn't dream of it.

China's policy didn't work as planned, despite all the resources of a totalitarian police state. China now faces an aging population and decreasing worker to retiree projections, which doesn't bode well for the retirement and health benefit programs the population there is clamoring for. Already, there are calls to eliminate the "one child" policy".

There's a good and bad answer to population. The good one is to spread prosperity and empowerment for women more widely in the world. This will bring down fertility rates. Unfortunately, we can't do it through "hard" power.

The bad answer is more disease, hastened by climate change.

Emil is right about China. The one-child policy is a social tinderbox among the population. Because of the cultural preference for boys and hidden abortions of girls, the demographics are wildly out of whack. It is also setting up China for a suddenly aging population.

Emil: Don't be fooled. Elliott P is a shill for the Booster Club and thus focused on perpetuating the hoax of "growth is good". Granted, he has moments of logic and lucidity, but the damage comes from convincing the Boosters that they can have one more BOOM to pack in another MILLION people in totally unsustainable sprawl.

I believe that Population sustainability is best served thru education for all and increased empowerment for women and the powerless.

Jon, I entered this water topic with the same frame of mind I have had for about 40 years. Man's time on Earth is limited. To what extent I have not the smarts to calculate. My thoughts have not been how to ensure “manUnkind” on earth is “forever.” But how can the human race best sustain their lives in a humane manner for as long as possible. My best guesstimate is that 30 billion people on the planet will not provide humane sustainability but rather more inhumane conduct than has ever gone on before.

I have maintained for years that Malthus was not wrong but that his theory kept getting pushed aside by new technological events. Maybe mankind will make the jump to hyperspace warp time traveling and continue on into the ever expanding galaxies. But my concern is what we are doing to each other today. Rapidly plundering the planet's available resources and bringing uncontrollable climate change to happen on very rapid scale. I am pessimistic. I don’t see most folks moving into 320 square foot abodes with solar power and collection rain barrels.

I applaud folks like the Gates and Buffets and we need more folks like them providing birth control education, screw what the Pope thinks.
Regarding the above water issue, skipping the conversation about which side of the political fence people sit on, we should remember that the human body is in the 80 percent water bracket, making H2O an important issue not to be taken lightly. Given that I suggest the planet should always factor in the number of humans into any equation related to the resources’ we consume particularly water. So for Arizona, Nevada and New Mexico I am opposed to new building permits for residences and commercial buildings and increasing the human population.

Well-said cal . . concise and worth re-reading and remembering. This has also been my brother's belief for many years, putting him at odds with all but the far-seeing. He's now seriously contemplating a move to Boulder, where he can live out his remaining years among like-minded individuals. (we hear that the retirement homes serve good wine and better lectures at 4PM most afternoons)

Our biggest curse is our blessing - we are a very "successful" species. What makes us different from other runaway successes (like bacteria in a petri dish), is the same thing that makes us so ascendant - our consciousness and self-awareness.

This means we have the tools to discover a meaningful relationship with our "petri dish" and achieve an equilibrium. This is the challenge. It starts with seeing our true relationship with the environment, and not confusing our "success" with "entitlement."

All life is equal. We grow up and understand this, we survive.

And fantasies about escaping the planet and spreading across the galaxy are not helpful towards this maturation.

Thanks morecleanair. Looks like Boulder's air and water is still in good shape. And it gets an Austin type review.

A long time ago a friend of mine, Kathy Jackson, an Olympian qualified runner, was killed in Boulder while out running. She was running with two other folks on the road shoulder and she was in the middle as they ran three abreast. A out of control driver's car missed her companions and knocked her into a canyon.

"And fantasies about escaping the planet and spreading across the galaxy are not helpful towards this maturation."
Are you recommending solo masturbation?

Yes, I definitely recommend solo.


Yes, Petro, I always get a chuckle out of that galaxy thing.

"OK, we've screwed up our living quarters here, so let's go somewhere else and screw up that place. First, we'll trash Mars, then let's try that moon by Saturn. It's such a cute and colonial idea"

I have a suggestion for anyone who subscribes to that "colonization" approach for our species, "Why don't you try removing your head from Uranus before you start spending my hard earned tax money on silly ideas."

And finally, when it comes to betting on Mother Nature versus Mankind, you probably should put your rent money on Mother Nature.

Arrogant mankind tried to recreate Mother Nature (Biosphere) and the whole scheme was taken down by two of Mother Nature's smallest creatures, microbes in the soil and ants.

"Oops, they were so small we didn't think they mattered compared to us, the ALPHA species.

Wow Rebel your on an intellectual trip today.
Your pal,
Commander cal, a legend in a galaxy far far away. His own mind.

Well looks like we about drained the basin on this or as they say "pulled the plug."

Back to the topic of parking lots:


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