Oregon Eyes a Tight Water Future

The municipal demand for water in Oregon is expected to increase by more than 61% by 2050, and many policymakers there are trying to figure out how to meet that growing demand.

"In a state that boasts about webbed feet, access to water is increasingly contested. The state estimates that in the coming years, demand will grow by 1.2 million acre-feet; we use about 9 million acre-feet now. Whoever controls the limited supply will control new housing and industry and how farming expands."

"Water is measured in acre-feet -- the amount that covers an acre to a depth of 1 foot -- and gallons. Oregonians use about 70 million gallons a day to drink, bathe and cook. Portland uses 136 gallons a day per person."

"Every product made in the state, from canned peaches to silicon wafers, takes water. The state lights up on power generated thanks to water."

"And now fish have arrived as a demanding customer. Powerful interests from federal judges to national environmental groups insist that more water be left in rivers for fish. That means less water for some at a time when people are demanding more."

Full Story: Oregon's water issues run deep

Comments

Comments

controlling growth is the only feasible solution

Presently, Oregon has policy of requiring that every city in the state establish an urban growth boundary that has within it a 20 year supply of buildable residential land. As such, cities cannot limit population growth but rather must accommodate it in a "smart growth" manner. Yet population growth is the major source of the increasing demand of water and such policies of forced densification have obviously not solved the dilemma of the demand for water eventually outstripping the supply. This situation underscores the failure of Oregon's "smart growth" policies to lead to a condition of sustainability, at least as far as water supply is concerned. Perhaps the State of Oregon should therefore re-think such policies and open the door to allowing muncipalities to put limits on their growth. www.controlgrowth.ning.com

Oregon Population Vs. World Population

If Oregon could stop its population growth, what effect would that have on world population and on global environmental problems? None. It would just shift the population away from Oregon and to somewhere else.

If Oregon shifts people into walkable neighborhoods, that does reduce global environmental problems, such as greenhouse gas emissions and oil consumption. In fact, California has adopted a law requiring smart growth (SB375) for precisely that reason.

Controlling growth is the only feasible solution. But you are not controlling growth by shifting population from one place to another.

Charles Siegel

SB375

And California's SB375 should be scrapped as well since California is encountering water shortages forcing unpopular conservation measures there. But, as in Oregon, hardly anyone is pointing to the increasing population as the culprit. Your comment about populations just shifting has some merit, but some places are better positioned to accommodate growth than others and California isn't one of them. Communities that don't want growth should not have growth foisted upon them by their state governments. And if that is the situation in too many communities nation-wide, then the flow of immigrants should be slowed. Let's come to our senses now, shall we!

Self Interest Vs. Common Good

"Communities that don't want growth should not have growth foisted upon them by their state governments."

Why not? Communities sometimes think only of their own local self-interest and ignore the common good. That is why they need to be balanced by state goverment, national government, and international treaties that deal with broader concerns.

I see this very often in Berkeley, where there is a large contingent of NIMBYs opposing any new development by claiming that it will cause them parking problems. They don't think about the harm they are doing to the global environment or the regional environmental problems. They are so short-sighted that the only issue they think about is making it easier for them to drive.

They also say they are against growth and growth shouldn't be foisted on them by the state. In reality, they are obviously just defending their own environmentally destructive way of life. (Americans emit 5 tons of CO2 per capita per year by driving alone.)

Fortunately, the state is reining them in with SB375. I hope the nation will rein them in with an effective cap-and-trade program and the world will rein them in with an effective international treaty to control global warming. We clearly need this balance to narrow, selfish, parochial interests.

Charles Siegel

Balancing the narrow, selfish, parochial interests of planners..

"...there is a large contingent of NIMBYs opposing any new development..."

NIMBYs or NIMBIs, these people have every right to voice their opposition.

local interest and the common good

"Communities sometimes think only of their own local self-interest and ignore the common good."

Just where does democracy start? I think that it begins at the local level as that level of government is closest to the people. Therefore, local governments should have as much autonomy as possible in determining the future of their communities. Having some government far removed from the citizenry calling the shots for them sounds like a prescription from hell.

Regarding "the common good", the same argument applies. Who determines what "the common good" is? Is it determined by a bunch of technocrat planners and politicians who don't live in a community or by the residents of that community? Now you are sounding very authoritarian, Charles.

As for Berkeley, I was there about thirty years ago and it's a beautiful community. My hat is off to those residents there who stand up and speak out for their community character and quality of life. We could use many more like them in the apathetic place where I reside which is becoming neither a good place to visit nor to live thanks to the "smart growth" notions that have been imported from places like Portland and Vancouver. www.crcpkelowna.ning.com.

Sb 375

Do you have an update on the implementation of SB375 in San Diego?

Stopping population growth locally is part of the solution.

"Controlling growth is the only feasible solution. But you are not controlling growth by shifting population from one place to another."

Ah, the old "it's a global problem" two-step. Where will it start then? Why would we not want other countries with rapid population growth to finally have to deal with that growth, rather than continue to provide a safety valve for them via immigration? Did you not ever hear of taking responsibility and leading by example? And preventing people from moving from low consumption to high consumption countries, and thus preventing them from magnifying their ecological footprint enormously, seems to be an excellent way to mitigate the increase in consumption and consequent environmental damage.

Can you please provide the replicable studies that show that "walkable" neighbourhoods have reduced global environmental problems, and by how much? Please provide studies that look at all the variables, and which look at totals rather than the other two-step: per capita data. Thanks.

Replicable Studies

Can you please provide the replicable studies that show that "walkable" neighbourhoods have reduced global environmental problems ...rather than the other two-step: per capita data.

Can you provide replicable studies showing that population control has reduced global environmental problems?

Any one who thinks about it can see immediately that this sort of issue is not subject to replicable controlled experiments. Conclusions have to be based on statistical studies, mathematical models, and reasoning about the results.

And sometimes the reasoning does require two steps (or even more).

The two-step reasoning is not that difficult to follow: population x per capita environmental impact = total environmental impact.

preventing people from moving from low consumption to high consumption countries, and thus preventing them from magnifying their ecological footprint enormously, seems to be an excellent way to mitigate the increase in consumption and consequent environmental damage

Take a look at the rate of economic growth in China, and then tell me whether you are mitigating their increase in consumption by preventing them from immigrating to Canada. Project the growth trends, and the average Chinese will consume as much as the average Canadian around mid-century.

If you want to lead by example, control your own level of consumption rather than pulling up the drawbridge to protect yourself.

Both the Chinese and the Canadians have done a good job of dealing with population growth. Neither has dealt with consumption growth.

Charles Siegel

Tim Halbur's picture
Blogger / Alum

Please keep the discussion civil

Charles and Rick, I've deleted some of your most recent comments because of their inflammatory nature. We all have our beliefs on one side or another of certain issues. I would like to keep this from becoming an exercise in name-calling.

In fact, I'd like to invite you both to present a classic debate format as an op-ed on the site. One of you can begin with the case for pro- or anti-smart growth, the other presents the opposite case. Then I'll give you each a short rebuttal paragraph of what the other wrote. But only if we can keep it above board, and with lots of studies and data to back up your claims.

Email me in the editor mailbox (info@planetizen.com) if you're interested.

Yes, certainly.

Thanks, Tim.

I appreciate the objectivity on your part.

I still ask the same question on this topic in this discussion as I asked in one of those deleted posts: how will "smart" growth alleviate the water problems that are becoming increasingly apparent?

"smart growth" and food shortages

Or how will "smart growth" avert the looming global food shortages forecast by experts such as James Howard Kunstler, Richard Heinberg, and Lester Brown? Density by itself doesn't feed people.

As I've said before, the problem comes down to our ecological footprint exceeding our environmental carrying capacity. You might be able to put a TEMPORARY urban growth boundary around a city to TEMPORARILY check urban sprawl, but a city's ecological footprint goes far beyond its boundary.

In Kunstler's words "We cannot continue to ignore this basic underlying problem ... The crisis situation is unsolvable unless we also address the population problem. It’s elementary logic, a no-brainer."

I am posting an article by Dr. Gabor Zovanyi on the delusion notions such as "smart growth" are creating in getting people to believe that they are meaningfully solving our environmental problems. http://www.npg.org/forum_series/growth_mgmt_delusion.htm

And this: http://www.cairco.org/growth/smartgrowth.html

a useful debate

I think that is an excellent idea, Tim, and I eagerly look forward to reading such an op-ed debate.

What's so smart?

"This situation underscores the failure of Oregon's "smart growth" policies to lead to a condition of sustainability, at least as far as water supply is concerned."

Yes, the longer we have to look at so-called "smart" growth in action, the clearer the picture becomes. The misguided cult of "smart" growth among planners is gleefully supported by developers and those who believe themselves to be environmentalists, and is a dismal attempt at social engineering. This is nothing more than a totalitarianist and dictatorial attempt to herd people into unhealthy conditions.

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