High good, low bad: Mead in September 2012

Posted on | October 1, 2012 | No Comments

Photo: James Gathany, Centers for Disease Control / Wikipedia. Click on the image of Culex genus mosquito larvae to be taken to a Los Angeles County Vector Control District guide to local mosquito species.

Lake Mead’s closing elevation last night at  1,115.13 feet, or at approximately half-full, prompted New Mexico-based science writer John Fleck to wonder what Arizona, Nevada and California did with all the water sent down the Colorado River by northern states? “Waste it on hookers and blow?”

Did we? Why didn’t I get any? Here in Southern California, at the tail end of a far drier than usual local rain year, roughly half of the million or so acre feet of Colorado River water delivered to urban users from Ventura to San Diego most likely went to car washing, in pools and on lawn. Given the imprecision of hoses and lawn sprinklers, as much as a quarter of that water probably spilled into gutters. As this overflow puddled in storm drains, it created ideal conditions for mosquitoes and a bumper West Nile virus season. So Fleck is almost certainly right to suspect we wasted our manna from the north. It can even be said that we got a buzz on. Only it was the wrong kind. 

Update: In a follow-up to his hookers and blow post, John Fleck desalinates his language for anyone so delicate as to have taken offense. Look at the entitlements versus delivery obligations for the Lower Basin states on the Colorado River, he writes, and without surpluses “the Lower Basin is inevitably going to drain Lake Mead.”

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