THE FORTNIGHTLY CLUB
Founded 24 January 1895
May 20, 2010
Assembly Room, A. K. Smiley Public Library
One Antediluvian's View of Smart Growth
By William E. Cunningham
A Bit of Prologue
Of all the issues we Californians confront, two, water and climate change, have a life of their own. I=ve had a long-term, abiding interest in each. My first Fortnightly paper was on water the second on climate change.
We=re now in another water Acrisis@ with many voices raised in solution or lament. The controversy over the fate of the Sacramento Delta has raged for years and continues unabated. Naysayers of climate change are abetted by Texas oil millions in an attack on California=s landmark efforts to become the country=s Agreen@ leader.
I=m not an Aexpert@ and make no pretense to be one. But I have always been fascinated by water. That, in part, grew out of a childhood in Manhattan Beach which saw its wells lost to salt water intrusion and several years in Taft, where a blade of grass couldn=t be found for miles and the only golf course, on a Standard Oil Lease, had Agreens@ of asphalt.
Also, purely by accident, which happens so often in life, for the last three decades I=ve been operating a small mutual irrigation water company while at the same time transforming 18 acres, virgin except for a reservoir and a row of blue eucalyptus, into a working farm of modest attainments and more than limited profitability.
Through those years fevered debate has raged in the political arena about the impacts of human activity and on the very fact of climate change. I have found the controversy contrived by those with an agenda and have long accepted the overwhelming consensus of the scientific community of its reality and its impact on the water cycle and, ultimately, on the future of the human enterprise, itself.
What follows is a modest attempt to conform to Ernest Rutherford=s admonition to a graduate student when told by that student that he understood the material but couldn=t do the numbers. The great Kiwi responded, AThat, young man, is knowledge of a meager and insufficient kind.@
Thus, much of this less than scholarly paper consists of first order quantitative determinations of a microcosmic example, predicated on assumptions open to question.
It is, quite frankly, the jaundiced view of an octogenarian to much of what is accepted water wisdom today and a very modest attempt to quantify the environmental impacts of how we organize ourselves.
My apologies to those familiar with standard notation. I=ve avoided its use in this paper in the most probably naive hope that someone might stumble upon it who would not be familiar with the notation but to the amazement of all find it an intriguing read. Absent its use I find that I can occasionally find myself in the pit of an arithmetic error. If any appear, I ,again, apologize.
How Much Water
While there is significant and wide-ranging debate about the source of earth=s water, there=s little disagreement in the literature that the earth=s water budget is nearly constant. Certainly some dissociated hydrogen leaks into space while other enters from cometary debris, but on balance those contributions are minuscule when compared to the whole.
We know that the real issue of water is the quantity and quality among the oceans, that trapped and stored underground, that in lakes and rivers, and that held in the atmosphere, all of which are in disproportionate and changing distribution over the Earth=s surface. Illustrative are the El Nino/La Nina cycle which drives our local water regimen, monsoons of south Asia, the solar cycle, long-term orbital dynamics, Earth=s magnetic changes and plate tectonics. None of which are well-understood.
As an example and measure of the difficulty and complexity of the quantitative determination of just one, the contribution of comets to the earth=s water budget, a number of years ago I challenged students to collect and measure micrometeoric debris and extrapolate from those numbers the proportional amount of water. It was a first rate lab exercise. We had a fine, state of the art X Ray facility and we assumed a good measurable collector in the roof gutters of the college=s physical science building. All worked as planned, with one small hitch. The isotopic distribution and crystalline structure of the limited samples didn=t match those of meteors but were a perfect match for some of the stuff at Kaiser Steel! We were measuring the downwind fallout from the mill=s stack plume.
A number of the changes in water distribution we have caused either accidentally or deliberately, often with unintended consequences. The desertification of the Fertile Crescent and much of the Sahel today can be attributed to irrigation practices that led to salt build-up, leaving the land disturbed but barren. The avoidance of that problem in the Imperial Valley by tiling the fields and draining the salts into the Salton Sea has led to charges and counter-charges between the Metropolitan Water District and that of Imperial. The Dust Bowl of the 30's is now understood to have been triggered in part by the breaking of the prairie sod. The planting of miles of windrow trees as a result may well have modified the rainfall pattern of the region. Damming, interrupting and redirecting the flow of streams have led to environmental disasters such as Katrina as a result of the loss of Gulf barriers, as well as the loss of billions of gallons to evaporation on the great storage lakes of the West.
The deforestation by our pioneering ancestors of the great forest of hardwoods that carpeted the landscape of the US east of the Mississippi and that region=s recent partial reforestation and their effect on the local climate would make a fascinating study. The logging and burning of the tropical rain forests have global implications. The deforestation of the Himalaya=s front range, of Haiti and the areas around Mexico City have all had severe impacts on the local water supplies. The draining for irrigation of the Oglalla and other ancient aquifers underlying our midcontinent prairies is now limiting for our ability to farm as we have in the past. Flood control works. The coverage with impervious surfaces like roofs and paving as the world=s cities continue to expand and grow. The list of how our activities impact water is seemingly endless.
As important as all the above are to water, by far the most important, overriding issue of all is human caused global warming. A number of the problems cited above can and are being addressed on a local and regional level. But while all affect the earth=s surface heat budget in some way, it is only through an understanding of the atmosphere=s dynamics and the application of corrective measures to our behavior that we can hope to slow, and far more optimistically, reverse, those impacts our activities had and continue to have on the earth=s climate. The natural drivers will continue in their cycles and we can but observe. But by every empirical measure, and the phenomena occurring as predicted, must lead to the conclusion that we are influencing the behavior of air and water that, while little understood, can only have a tremendous impact on the human enterprise. If, as the scientific community has concluded, our every action affects the melting of the North Polar ice, it could lead, as many predict, to the breakdown of the Gulf Stream, and the lands of our ancestors could see dramatic change in the habitability of a region populated by hundreds of millions, with other dramatic changes affecting every part of the globe.
A greenhouse we must have, else we=d freeze every night. But not one that melts the polar caps, raises the seas and changes their circulation while heating them and adding enormously to the atmosphere=s water budget with resultant catastrophic storms and flooding.
I need to add parenthetically, and selfishly, that I worry about the more intense freezes and extreme swings in the local heat and water cycles as I try to compete with nature. But that pales in contrast to the threats of the future, the very habitability of the planet as we know it.
Early settlers found Redlands with chaparral covered hills interspersed with oak savanna woodlands. The out wash cones of Mill Creek and the Santa Ana were densely covered with forest. Streams like San Timoteo Creek flowed year round. Acres of wetlands covered extensive areas of the valley floor, in lower Yucaipa and along the lesser streams. Broad, lush areas of grasses ideal for game and livestock covered much of the rest.
The forests that covered the streams were lost in the great flood of 1862 which we have replaced, in part, with the many acres of citrus groves, making the exchange for those lost trees with the replacement of the chaparral on the slopes with trees irrigated by that same stream water.
Ours was, and continues to be, an area rich in water. At least one artesian well flowed until about 1940. Not many years ago the city of San Bernardino successfully sued the water conservation district over spreading operations that increased the threat of liquifaction in the city. Urbita Springs was a popular boating venue where Inland Center stands today. Basements there are only kept dry by constant pumping, including, interestingly enough that of the San Bernardino Municipal Water District=s former offices. Until recently we, with other valley cities, continued to export more water as sewage effluent past Prado Narrows than required by Orange County=s legal claim to river flow. Millions of acre feet are stored beneath our feet in the Bunker Hill Basin.
Nowhere have I read that our area was a Adesert@ covered by Adrought tolerant@ plants: cacti, creosote bush and others as many would like us to believe. The river and creeks were covered with willows, cottonwoods, sycamores, alders. Wetlands were extensive and year round in many areas and along the river=s course. One has only to observe what has happened in the last decade or so on San Timoteo Creek once water has again flowed or the rebuilding forest along Mill Creek to gain a picture of that time. Commentators of the period spoke of thousands of cattle and horses roaming our valley. According to Richard Henry Dana our region=s greatest exports in his time were hides and tallow from the huge herds that wandered belly high grasslands that covered the valley floors.
In our own case, up until the sixties Redlands got all its winter water from Mill Creek. Our local water budget was pretty much in balance. We were self-sufficient. No State water was taken for decades after we joined with others in forming the San Bernardino Valley Municipal Water District, our local contractor in the State water project. Through those years millions in Redlands taxes went to MUNI in exchange for not one drop of water, while, at the same time, we dumped millions of gallons a day into effluent ponds along the river.
Our problem was not one of quantity but rather quality as ever more stringent regulations and the introduction of contaminants forced one well after another out of domestic production.
Now the Acrisisers@ in the southern, water-short coastal cities and the farmers of the arid west side of the Central Valley, joined by those who shout AGrow or Die@ are in full-throated cry, many motivated by hidden agendas that have nothing to do with the commonweal. Their solution, eleven billion for a state bond of dubious merit. New statutes mandating a twenty percent reduction in water use. ADrought tolerant@ landscaping now the only option. Grass and lawns deemed a social and environmental hazard. ASmart Growth@now the mantra to pack us in cheek by jowl.
Why the need? We are told that we must find the water for another 18 million people by 2050. That the current drought cycle leaves us no other options. No mention is made of the fact that nearly all of those new residents will be from other countries. Developers and their elected hired hands are in constant and full cry attack against local planning laws under the guise of housing for the less fortunate, conveniently ignoring the millions in taxpayer dollars wasted in the redevelopment projects they promote.
They are joined by the forces that dammed the Kern, San Joaquin and other central valley rivers to get enough water for cotton on the valley=s truly arid west side that resulted in the flushing of selenium and other salts into ponds, creating an environment poisonous to wildfowl, have cost taxpayers billions for dams and infrastructure and have saddled the federal government with a two billion dollar bill to remediate the contamination their flood irrigation of thousands of acres of government subsidized cotton have caused. They now scream robbery at any who voice concern over the impacts of continuing down that road. I need to mention in fairness that a
few, the more enlightened, have turned to almonds that require but a third as much water, others to pomegranates which require half that.
Lost and ignored any memory of Miller and Lux, the founders of Kern County Land Company who put a boat in a buckboard to Asurvey@ and claim thousands of acres of federal A swamp@ lands. Or Buena Vista Lake, which was several times the size of Big Bear in rainy years when I was a boy. Or Tulare Lake, at frequent times in the past the largest body of fresh water in the state.
Somewhere and at some time the concept of limits must come into play. California can=t pack people in forever. At some point the whole system will fail. The contrived issue of housing and opportunity for our children is a red herring. We are not reproducing at a rate to maintain current population, let alone growth. We=re a mature industrial society like western Europe and Japan. Not only is our birth rate not at replacement but California is hemorrhaging many of its middle class to other states. Only if we believe that immigration is essential to our future can we justify basing all of our planning on future growth.
For me, it makes no sense to turn Redlands brown so that federally subsidized cotton farmers can have more water to further degrade the Valley, while destroying whole ecosystems and competing third world economies. Neither that nor unlimited growth can I view with equanimity.
Suggestions? A few
If we sincerely believe that water and global warming are two of the most important issues of our time, perhaps the following is illustrative of the why of my bias.
For the sake of argument and example I would suggest a project close to home that I believe makes the point.
The most recent residential project to come to the city consisted of converting 23 acres of citrus grove into 200 units crowded onto 2,500 square foot lots, spacing so tight that six units shared a common drive, essentially no open or green space. Throughout the planning approval process it was touted as an exemplar of ASmart Growth,@ a precedent -setting model for future development.
In contrast. Since its passage in 1997 Measure U has saved more than 50 acres of citrus in new plantings, best exemplified by the Standard Pacific project on the north side of Lugonia. And, alternatively, the K B Homes project north of Pioneer which developed and gave to the city a ten acre park along the bluff. In each case the developer set aside twenty percent or more of the land in exchange for clustering, gaining thereby savings in infrastructure. Those same lands prior to U would have been developed at four to six units to the acre with no open space. Instead, Redlands got quality development and as importantly, significant contributions to its citrus acreage, vitally important as private ownership erodes, by adding to that critical mass essential to the maintenance of a viable citrus heritage.
Into the bargain we gained valuable carbon sinks which to some degree mitigate the heat island effect of the projects and provide permeable surface to absorb both rain runoff and act as a buffer for contaminants.
Faced with their enthusiastic embracing of the 200 unit project and the citing of it as a model for future conversion of citrus by a council majority of Gilbreath, Harrison and Aguilar, the Redlands Association board felt it had no choice but to sue. The Association prevailed.
Primary to the argument by the city and proponents of the project were the saving of water and the improvement of air quality.
Unwilling to accept such claims based upon no defined data or calculations, I thought it of merit to explore the issue with numbers.
Neglecting all other considerations on the project except those of water and global warming plus a city=s AHeat Island Effect@ what follows is a first order, thumb nail, back of a napkin analysis of the negative impacts of the project, not with arm-waving rhetoric but rather an attempt to quantify the issues as a more meaningful basis for discussion.
No Project, or Retention of the Grove
Some baseline assumptions: 23 acres of citrus watered with 10 Miners= Day Inches (MID) per month An MID = 9 gallons/minute or 12,960 gallons/day. 8 months of irrigation, April through November. There are 326,000 gal/acre-foot. 50% of irrigation water is percolated back into the aquifer. The grove=s permeability = 100% rainfall annual average = 12.87 in/yr.
Water uptake depends on a number of factors - soil type, temperature, wind, time of year, etc. What follows is a generalization of my experience.
Grove = 23 ac x 8 mo x 10MID/mo x 12,960 gal/MID/ 326,000 gal/ac-ft = 73.15 ac-ft/ year
If I/2 is percolated back into the ground, then net irrigation water use = 36.57 ac-ft
The grove would absorb 12.87 inches of precipitation = 12.87/12 in/ ft x 23 acres = 24.67 ac-ft
With fruit having most of their size and the tree not flushing less water is used in the four winter months. If we assume 2 as much, then: 24.67ac/ft x 0.25 = 6.17ac/ft in those months
Thus the Net Loss to aquifer (used by the trees) = 36.57 - 6.17 = 42.74 ac-ft
There are years when the irrigation season has lasted twelve months. And there are years when rainfall has varied widely from these values. But they are valid as a conservative average.
The 200 Unit Development
Assume: 1/4 ac-ft/yr/unit water usage. 5% permeability with the area nearly all hardscaped
Project = 200 units x 0.25 ac-ft/ yr water use/unit x 0.95 impermeability = 47.5 ac-ft
Rainfall runoff = 12.87/12in/ ft x 23 acres x 0.95 impermeability = 23.43 ac-ft
Net Loss to aquifer = 47.5 + 23.43 = 70.93 ac-ft
Or 1.66 times as much as the grove
Plus not in the above usage: Southern California Edison residential usage runs between 600 and 800 kWh per month. The Inland Empire with its greater cooling demands averages 800 or more. The Western Interconnect (our grid) has a water loss at the end user = 2 gallons/kWh.
Redlands averages 2.8 persons/household (RUSD estimate)
800 kWh/month x 12 months = 9,600 kWh/yr / 2.8 persons/unit - 3.42kWh/person
Thus: 800 kWh/month x 12 months x 200 units x 2 gallons/kWh/person =
3,840,000 gallons/yr/ 326,000 gal/ac-ft = 11.78 ac-ft
That loss, compounded by line losses in the distribution system, adds to the total Aused@
Thus the Net Loss or Total Aused@ = 70.93 + 11.78 = 82.71 acre-feet
Or 1.94 times as much as the grove
Typical existing Redlands Units
The City of Redlands average usage = 2 ac-ft/yr (city=s number) with 40% to landscaping. 60% hardscape The landscaping uses the same amount per area as the grove. Lots cover 3x the area (lots 3x larger) of the 200, with 40% Agreen.@ Number of lots = 67
Then: 67 units x 0.50 ac-ft/unit = 33.5 ac-ft - 0.50 x 40% x 67 units x 2 used by plants = 33.5 - 6.70 = 28.80 ac-ft.
Plus 12.87in/12 in/ft (rainfall) x 0.60 hardscape x 23 acres = 14.80 runoff + 12.87/12 x 0.4 x 0.25 (taken by plants - rain replacing irrigation) x 23 acres = 14.80 + 2.47 = 17.27
Or Net Loss = 46.07 ac-ft lost to aquifer
There would a 67/200 proportionate loss in electrical use of 3.95 ac-ft which would be reduced further by the Agreen@ landscaping cooling the air.
Total Aused@ = 50.02 acre-feet Or 1.17 x the grove
Every project converting citrus acreage into residential in the seventeen years since the Measure=s adoption has applied it as intended. A clustering of units with the retention of 20% or more of acreage set aside for open space (e.g. new grove, park, etc.) Had the project in question been designed according to Measure U requirements, 65 units would have been allowed with 4.6 or more of the 23 acres set aside as open space, depending on the clustering lot size chosen.
65 units x 0.50 ac-ft/unit = 32.5 ac/ft - 0.50 x 40% x 65 units x 2 used by plants =
32.5 - 6.5 = 26.00
Plus 12.87 in/12 in/ft x 0.60 x 18.4 acres (23 - 4.6) = 11.84 runoff + 12.87/12 x 0.4 x 0.25 (plants) x 18.4 = 1.98 Or total rainfall loss = 13.82 on lots + 4.6 ac x 2 (plants) x 12.87/12 = 2.47 (lost to plants on open space acreage) Total rainfall loss = 16.29
Net Loss = 42.29 ac-ft lost to aquifer
Plus, applying the Edison factor used above = 3.83 ac-ft
46.12 acre-feet Aused” Or 1.08 x the grove
The grove is better on all counts in terms of water conservation. It does not contribute to runoff pollution or to loss from local aquifer, except for the water Aused.@ The 200 unit project uses in the order of twice as much water as the AGrove@ the ARedlands Units@ and AMeasure U@ l While it is true that the project=s sewer effluent could return to another aquifer downstream, in our case most is evaporated at Mountain View power plant after costly treatment. The cost in energy and more water of that treatment is beyond the scope of this paper The runoff, contributing its own contaminants, ends up in the Aswamp@ with the other contaminated water there. Its use, again, would require energy and water.
In contrast, the grove likely would have used untreated water, probably produced on site with a significant portion returned to that same aquifer. The lifting costs of that water would be a fraction of the lifting and treatment costs of any of the three development scenarios.
Again, some assumptions: 8,000 pounds of fruit per acre. The late Ed Patterson, arguably the most able of growers, always pointed with pride to a A10" of 100 year old trees in the Crafton area that consistently produced 10,000 pounds per acre.
8,000 pds/ac x 23 acres = 184,000 pounds = 92 tons of fruit -most water with some sugars, oils and cellulose. Those Asolids@ combined with the cellulose of the tree, itself, could equal 30% of the 92 tons of fruit. A reasonable assumption could put another 10% in lignin, the trees= structural component.
8,000pds/ac x 23acres x 0.30 = 55,200 pounds of cellulose, or 27.6 tons
Water (H20) + Carbon Dioxide (CO2) + Sunlight = Cellulose (C6H12O5) + Oxygen(O2)
12(CO2) + 12(H2O) + Radiation = 2(C6H12O5) + 13(O2)
In Atomic Mass Units 528 + 216 = 328 + 416
Ratio 2.44 1.00 1.519 1.93
Or: Through photosynthesis the grove sequesters 44.33 tons of CO2 and releases 35.07 tons of O2 while at the same time producing 27.6 tons of Cellulose. Plus at least a mass equal to 10% of the fruit weight would be produced as Lignin, the Awoody@ part of the trees
60(CO2) + 36(H2O) + Radiation = 2(C30H36O9) + 69(O2)
In AMU 2640 + 648 = 1080 + 2208
10% of the 92 tons - Sequesters 23.47 tons of CO2 and produces 19.63 tons of O2 as well as 9.2 tons of Lignin.
Or: The grove captures 67.80 tons of CO2 while releasing 54.70 tons of O2, while also producing 27.6 tons of Cellulose (fruit dry weight, leaves, tree) and 9.20 tons of Lignin. The stored renewable energy of the last two can be utilized in a number of processes of conversion.
While nearly all of the rest of the water Aused@ is consumed in evaporation and transpiration, a small fraction would be held in the hydrophobic lignin lined pores of the trees. Those values are beyond the scope of this discussion.
Thus, on all counts, the solar energy consumed in the photosynthetic process, the carbon dioxide sequestered, the carbon stored in the dry materials all contribute to the reduction in global warming. The released oxygen is an added bonus.
The 200 Unit Development
Assumptions, again: Bureau of Reclamation: The average output of Hoover Dam over the decade 1999 - 2008 was 4, 200,000,000 kWh, said to be enough for 1,300,000 people = 3,230 kWh/person.
As a check on the above Edison uses a value between 600 and 800 kWh/month, with our inland area at the higher value of use per person = 3,420 kWh, a reasonable agreement with the Hoover Dam number. Edison also claims a Carnot efficiency of the Mountain View plant at 7,000 BTU/ kW, other, older plants run more than 10,000. Natural gas = 23,000 BTU/ pd
The Department of Energy uses 2 gallons/kWh for combined operation at the user, averaging 18 for hydro and .49 for thermal. The school district uses 2.8 persons/residence in Redlands. About 90% of power is thermal. 1kW = 3412.7 BTU
3,230 kWh/person x 200 units x 2.8 persons/unit x 2 gallons/kWh =
3,617,600 gal / 326,000 gal/ ac-ft = 11.10 ac-ft/yr water used in cooling
Using the Hoover Dam: 3,230 kWh/person x 200 units x 2.8 persons/unit = 1,808,000 kWh
1,808,000 kWh x 0.9 thermal = 1,627,200 kWh thermal / 0.4 efficiency =
4,068,000 kWh input (Bureau est.)
Edison: 800 kWh/ month x 12 months x 200 units x 0.90 thermal x 8000 BTU/kW (ave. plant) /3412.7 BTU/kW = 4,050,700 kWh input (Edison est.)
4,068,000 kWh x 3,412.7 BTU/kWh / 23,000 BTU/pound = 603,600 pounds
(CH4) + 2(O2) = (CO2) + 2(H2O)
In Atomic Mass Units 16 64 44 36
Or in pounds 1 4 2.750 2.25
The burning of 603,600 pounds of CH4 or 301.8 tons =
1207.2 tons of O2 lost and 899.5 tons of CO2 released
That would be mitigated to a limited degree by landscaped areas in the project which pencil out to about 1.5 acres as a generous estimate. Using the methodology from the Agrove@ above the net becomes 1.5 acres/23 acres x 67.8 tons of CO2, 54.7 tons of O2 for a net of
4.42 tons of CO2 captured + 3.57 of O2 released
or: Replacing the grove with the project results in 1203.63 tons of O2 robbed from the atmosphere and 895.08 tons of CO2 released to produce the electricity used.
The use of natural gas for heating, if factored in =
California average for residential natural gas consumption is 13,700,000 BTU/person
13,700,000 x 200 units x 2.8 persons/unit = 7,670,000,000 BTU for heating
7,670,000,000 BTU / 23,000 BTU/pound = 334,000 pounds = 16.79 tons
= 50.04 tons of CO2 and 67.16 O2
Or a total of 945.12 tons of CO2 are released while 1270.79 tons of O2 are lost
Another consideration: Auto use.
If we assume two cars per unit driven a combined total of 15,000 miles per year at 30 miles per gallon and gas weighing 6 pounds per gallon, total use will be 1.5 tons of gas/year.
The base equation for hydrocarbon combustion is CxHy + (x +y/4)O2 + y/2H2O,
or for heptane = C7H16 + 11O2 = 7CO2 + 8H2O or in AMU =100 + 352 = 308 + 144
ratios for octane are nearly the same. Approximately 25% of that energy would be delivered to the crankshaft, with 35% to coolant, 33% to exhaust and 12% to surroundings
For the 200 units: 1056 tons of O2 are consumed while giving off 924 tons of CO2.
Total = 2330.36 tons of O2 lost, 1873.54 tons of CO2 are released
This requires some assumptions that I believe are valid in concept but are challengeable in
their quantitative values. Although those assumed values could be questioned, they still illustrate the principle. Following the methodology above for the 200 units:
Neglecting any ameliorating effect of the 40% open space on energy use: 67 units / 200 units = 0.335 = fraction of 200 unit use for electricity, gas and auto use. Then:
0.335 x 2330.36 = 780.67 tons of O2 lost and 0.335 x 1873.54 = 627.64 tons of CO2 released.
Using the grove=s production of 257,000 pounds of fruit, cellulose and lignin. And assuming comparable production from the project=s landscaping, corrected for sprinkler spray (5%), some of which goes directly to evaporation. And also assuming that 25% of rainfall on landscaping goes to growth: Then, 0.4 (fraction in open space) x 23 ac = 9.2 ac
9.2 ac /23ac x 67.8 tons of CO2 = 27.12 tons CO2 captured and 21.88 tons of O2 released
Net = 600.52 tons of CO2 released, plus 758.79 tons of O2 lost (captured)
The Measure would have 65 units as well as 4.6 acres of open space (grove?)
65/67 x 780.67 = 757.37 tons of O2 captured, 65/67 x 627.64 = 608.90 tons of CO2 released
Assume the 4.6 acres of open space would photosynthesize at the same rate as the grove
4.6 ac / 23 ac x 67.8 tons of CO2 = 13.56 tons captured and 4.6/23 x 54.70 = 10.94 O2 released
Net: 746.43 tons of O2 lost and 595.34 tons of CO2 released
While all three development scenarios yield copious amounts of CO2 while robbing a comparable amount of O2, the 200 Unit project is still by far the worst.
If 200 units were to be built at typical Redlands densities the savings would be162 tons of CO2 and 131 tons of O2. If built to Measure U the savings rise to 185.51 O2 and 139.89 of CO2
Plus autos = 699.93 tons of O2 lost, 547.99 tons of CO2 released
Put another way, for the project to be carbon neutral would require that hundreds of additional acres to appear out of nothingness. Or every project, no matter how environmentally sensitive, adds to the carbon footprint while robbing oxygen from the atmosphere. Put another way, you can=t get there from here.
The AHeat Island Effect@
But the story doesn=t end there. Each city has its own microclimate produced by its activities. Universally, the built environment results in a Aheat island effect.@
First: All water not lost in runoff or captured in plants or entering the aquifer is either transpired by plants or directly evaporated. In both cases an enormous quantity of heat (solar radiation) is absorbed from the atmosphere
While the solar radiation utilized in the chemical reactions in the photosynthesis is beyond the scope of this paper, we can evaluate another important attribute of the grove: its ability to cool the local atmosphere, moderating the AHeat Island Effect@ of cities.
Given: 1BTU to raise 1 pound of water 1 degree. Heat of Vaporization = 970 BTU/pd of water Water weighs 62.4 pounds There are 7.48 gallons/ft(3)
During the three summer months, out of the eight month irrigation season, 13.711375 ac-ft are Aused. With an acre-foot of water weighing =
43,560 ft(3)/ac-ft x 62.4 pds/ft(3) = 2,720,000pounds/ac-ft = 1,360 tons
Estimated above that 92 tons were held in fruit, another 27.6 tons in cellulose and another 9.2 in lignin, for a total of 128.8 tons, or about 75 percent of that is water = 128.8 tons x 0.75 = 96.6 tons of water. While the trees are basically dormant in the summer, the fruit continues to size.
or: The water transpired and evaporated, the engine of cooling =
13.71 ac-ft x 2,720,000 pounds/ac-ft = 37,300,000 pounds - (96.6 tons x 2,000 pounds/ton =
19,000 pounds) =
37,300,000 - 2,580,000 = 37,300,000 pounds x (212-75) temp change + 970 vaporization =
37,300,000 pounds x 1,107 BTU/ pound =
41,300,000,000 BTU taken from atmosphere by evaporation and transpiration
The 200 Units
Edison estimates 400 kWh per month for summer cooling over its territory. Our area would be about 600. If we assume that the AC is 40% efficient, then 0.6 times 600 = 360 kWh is exhausted to the atmosphere. 360 kWh/month x 3.5 months x 200 x 3412.7 BTU/kWh = 8.60 x 10(8) BTU of heat added to atmosphere at the unit. Add the plant at 800 kWh (plant) / 0.4 efficiency x 3.5 months x 200 units x 3412.7 BTU/kWh = 4,780,000,000 BTU
Or: A total of = 5,640,000,000 BTU are added to atmosphere
Minus 0.25 ac-ft/yr x 3.5months/12months/year yr x 200 units x 0.05 permeability (project 95% hardscape) = 0.73 ac-ft to atmosphere = 0.73 ac-ft x 2,720,000 pds of H2O/ac-ft x 1,107 BTU/pd H2O vaporization plus temp increase) = 2,200,000,000 BTU evaporative cooling
Thus: 3,440,000,000 BTU added to atmosphere,
Plus autos at 1.5 tons per year, gasoline at 19,000 BTUs per pound = 2 00 x 3,000 pds x 19,000 BTU/pd x 0.75 waste heat (25% to crankshaft) = 8,550,000,000 BTU from autos
Net total = 11,990,000,000 BTU given off from project
Edison usage = 5,640,000,000 x 67/200 = 1,889,400,000 are added to atmosphere
Plus 8,550,000,000 x 67 /200 = 2,864,250,000 from autos =
4,753,650,000 BTU to Atmos from Edison + AC waste + autos
Minus 0.15 ac-ft/unit (2 of 30% to landscaping) x 67 units x 3.5 months/12 mo/ yr = 2.93 ac-ft x 2,720,000 pounds/ac-ft = 7,973,000 pounds
7,973,000 pds x 1,107 BTU/pd = 8,830,000,000 BTU transpired, evaporated and in plants
If we assume that the cooling would reduce demand by 20%, a modest figure, then:
5,640,000,000 BTU x 67 /200 x 0.2 =1,510,000,000 BTU waste heat from AC. But that could be balanced by plant matter.
Net = 4,076,350,000 BTU taken from atmosphere
Heat added = 4,753,650,000 x 65/67 = 4,611,749,700,000 BTU
Minus: 8,830,000,000 x 65/67 = 8,566,417,900 transpired, evaporated, in plants
Minus: 41,300,000,000 x 4.6 ac/23 ac = 8,260,000,000 (fraction of grove)
Net = 12,072,767,000 BTU taken from atmosphere
The most obvious conclusion from the above is that the exercise graphically demonstrates why water is the universal working fluid for thermal processes. Further, well beyond the scope of this exercise is the value of the mechanical shading of trees and plants that must add to the cooling effects.
How Smart Is Smart?
By all measures the grove, or no project, is far and away superior for water conservation, for reducing greenhouse gases while adding significant quantities of oxygen and for the amelioration of the Heat Island Effect.
At the same time building to Measure U standards, as has been done for seventeen years, is much superior to either the 200 or the Redlands norm. If builders clustered their AU@ projects even tighter than practice thus far, both cost and impact of infrastructure would be reduced while all the positive attributes of the Measure=s requirements would be enhanced.
The ASmart@ proponents would have us believe that converting land to small lots with xeriscaping for whatever dirt is left is the only way to save water and stop Asprawl.@ Planners and logic tell us that higher densities should be near town centers where public facilities and transportation are available. But the conversion of citrus acreage as exemplified by this project and others as advocated by the city council makes no sense.
Xeriscape (its root is xeros, Greek for Adry@) is now the buzzword of development, but it should be evident from the above analysis that cooling best comes from the water in plants warming and changing state in the atmosphere. Evaporative cooling is far more efficient than using a power plant at 40 percent thermal efficiency, at best, to feed AC that is less than 40 percent efficient, netting about one sixth of the raw energy to produce cooling, while at the same time degrading the atmosphere with CO2, robbing it of O2 and evaporating large quantities of water in the process. Edison, itself, in recognizing this waste, is now touting and subsidizing the change from AC to evaporative (swamp) coolers, which they state will reduce energy use by two thirds.
Further, it has been known for some time that cities build CO2 domes over themselves. Recent research by Mark Jacobson of Stanford and others indicate that such domes increase local concentrations of ozone and particulate matter, having important implications for the health of residents. Little Redlands would be too small to create a significant dome on its own, but it has help. Mountain View with its 1,054 megawatt capacity, as efficient as it is, produces in the order of 2.7 million tons of CO2 per year over our fair city, while robbing us of more than 2 million tons of O2 making for a more than adequate dome over our town. Anything we can do to mitigate the dome=s impact might well save lives.
In that vein, at the initial consideration of this paper I attempted to quantify the differential temperatures among pavement, dark roofs, Axeriscaped@ areas, lawns, fake grass, canopy trees and trees with lawns beneath. It turned out to be a goal well beyond my reach. While I managed to get values in each case, the number of variables involved could not be filtered accurately enough to produce defendable conclusions. But others have determined that a large canopy tree is comparable in cooling to a three ton AC and, as we all experience, the air above a green lawn is sensibly cooled.
Being something of a packrat I managed to dig out a bit of data from the time we had just finished our house, a structure surrounded by nothing but raw dirt on all sides. Desperate for access during wet weather up a steep, winding drive we asphalted both it and the extensive parking area before the garage. Later we planted six Modesto Ash on the south and southwest sides as well as grass. The trees now reach about thirty feet and spread wide enough to cover much of the grass and the parking area as well as shade the house. While I have only a handful of Edison billing data points over the thirty year span, they reflect a summer cooling saving of at minimum forty percent between the early days and now. Plus over that same time period, in every blade of grass mowed and every leaf the trees put out is sequestered carbon, as the atmospheric carbon dioxide consumed contributes its oxygen to the air we breathe. To extrapolate that experience and the example of the models examined to our whole town, its greenery and urban forest, must lead one to conclude that their cooling effect is enormous and the numbers for the gases huge.
To replace all that with white rocks, bark, cacti and succulents, an occasional Palo Verde and other Adrought tolerant@ plants for the sake of saving water, to me, is beyond reason. How can we, in good conscience, jawbone those countries with the great engines of carbon capture and oxygen generation, the rain forests, to stop their destruction for our sake while we make no effort to contribute ourselves? Especially, when we exacerbate the problem with ever-increasing demands for cooling from thermal plants that counter those efforts. While the logging of the rainforests is an ecological disaster on all counts, it needs to be recognized that it is typically replaced in many cases, especially in Brazil, with green - soy, sugar or pasture, all of which contribute carbon sequestration and oxygen release. Xeriscaping contributes little of each.
From all of the above I can=t help but conclude that ASmart Growth@ isn=t all that smart after all, and we are being conned into believing in a model for development that=s contrary to all of our best interests.
As To The Wider Water Debate
While the controversy rages on about the Delta, and in spite of scientific reviews that indicate that twice the water is needed than is being left in the delta today to save that ecological system from collapse, politicians, pandering for votes, seek to divert more water south.
Locally, Awater@ people condemn any effort to save an endangered ecosystem in the Santa Ana, while being more than willing to contract to sell hundreds of thousands of acre-feet to others.
And, no matter how logical an argument can be raised that xeriscaping is neither a return to what existed before nor a saving of water, ever-tightening restrictions promoting and mandating its use are passed into law.
Interestingly, for those pushing to Asave@ water and are loudest in complaining of supply,
one game-changing potential source is never mentioned.
When I was a boy in the thirties, two great engineering works were in progress, the Golden Gate Bridge and Hoover Dam. Both major achievements of man over nature. One of my brothers, a high school senior, and a friend, on Easter break in 1936 and in that friend=s1926 Model T traveled to Death Valley and on to the construction site of the dam to see the wonder. Pat still has those Brownie Kodak pictures of the project that so impressed us.
The dam designed for power generation and flood control has fallen on hard times. Glen Canyon took over most of the flood control task and an ever-diminishing supply of water has put Hoover=s power generation at risk.
The dam came into service in the last century, the wettest in the Upper Basin states in the last 1,000 years, according to tree ring data. That optimistic flow was divvied up among California, Arizona, Nevada and Mexico. One problem, the amounts distributed were more than the water available. What has followed is a low level water war among all the river=s users, only to be exacerbated by a decades long drought in recent years. The impact? If the lake level falls to 1,075 feet water deliveries are to be cut by ten percent.
Whatever the cause, Hoover=s reservoir, Lake Mead, is at its lowest level since 54 years ago and is approaching the 1050 level, at which point the turbines will cavitate and one of Nevada=s two intake pipes would no longer be able to feed water to Las Vegas. Lost, also, the cheap Hoover power the Metropolitan Water District depends upon, which is about sixty percent of the water district=s total, power to pump its water from Lake Havasu to L A and beyond.
Over the decade from 1999 to 2008, Hoover produced an average of 4.2 billion kilowatt hours of energy per year. Figuring a ten percent line loss and a replacement power cost of five cents per kilowatt- hour, that power was worth $189 million. But Lake Mead is now at 1087 feet, decreasing Hoover=s power output from 130 to 100 megawatts, with each megawatt being able to power 650 homes. With every foot of elevation lost the dam produces 5.7 megawatts less power. Loss of that cheap power MWD claims would raise costs to residents between $10 and $20 a month. Anticipating that loss MWD and Edison, which gets five percent of Hoover=s power output, are both investing in solar units in the Mojave.
And the scramble is on to solve Hoover=s problem. But two researchers at Scripps in La Jolla, Tim Barnett and David Pierce, in several recent, definitive papers on Hoover have estimated that without change in water policy at Mead the turbines will no longer produce power by 2025. And, if historic water patterns combine with climate change, plus an increased demand for power, there would be a twenty percent probability that the lake level would drop below 1,050 next year.
But is it time to look to another solution? One of pure heresy. According to the Bureau of Reclamation the fifty year bonds to pay for the power function of the dam are paid for, with the bonds for flood control still a number of years to go. The dam has more than paid for itself.
One can=t help speculating in the role of an iconoclast that maybe priorities are backwards.
For Hoover to produce its power eighty inches of water must evaporate every year off of Lake Mead=s 164,000 acre surface and off its sister, Powell, another seventy six inches from its 169,700 acre surface.
Thus, Mead=s loss is around 1,000,000 acre feet per year, enough to supply 2,000,000 homes at the rate of one half acre foot per year, or about 6,000,000 people at Redlands= density of 2.8 persons per household. Reducing the lake=s footprint to that of the river, except in flood times would add that much to the river water available for use. The numbers are comparable for Powell.
Using the Bureau of Reclamation=s numbers for Mead of 164,000 surface acres, 80 inch annual evaporation and the ten year average of 4.2 billion kilowatt hours generated per year =
1.64 x (5) acres x 80/12 feet x 3.26 x 10(5) gallons/acre-foot / 4.2 x 10(9) kilowatt hours =
84.9 gallons / kilowatt hour. There=s no reason to believe that the numbers for Powell would be radically different. That cost in water for replaceable power makes no sense.
Contrast that staggering loss with a fossil fuel thermal plant at around one half gallon per kilowatt hour, or San Onofre with its closed ocean cooling loop.
With the Lower Basin states and Mexico constantly and at ever-increasing odds over every drop of water as the drought continues, and with the Upper Basin states chafing at the amount lost downstream, how long can we rationalize the continued use of Hoover, Glen Canyon or both for hydro power?
How rational is it to turn our area into a desert, or some landscaper=s vision of one, just so we can continue down this path? The alternatives?
Wild rivers? What a waste, dam them up. Fisheries? Forget it, we gotta have the water. Trees and lawns? Irresponsible, bring in the rocks and cacti.
Not to mention, also, the vast quantities evaporated off Powell, Mead, Mohave and Havasu, concentrating the river=s salts, leaving the water unpalatable and making plastic water bottles a landscape nightmare.
And, if Reclamation had had its way, Marble Canyon would have been contributing its share to the loss.
But no need to look at any of this if California voters can be conned into believing the water narrative and tax themselves for billions for more dams and schemes.
We know that building insulation, dual glazing, roof top collectors, white roofs and, yes, canopy trees and grass for a hundred thousand houses would replace the power generated by Hoover. Or another nuclear facility like San Onofre. Edison in announcing the replacement of the steam generator in one unit, claimed that it supplied power to 1.4 million, comparable with Hoover. And the river could run wild again with Glen Canyon continuing to provide power while serving the storage and flood control functions, except for those infrequent years of massive runoff when Hoover and Mead could play a role.
How many of us would trade that heretical change to an engineering icon for the opportunity to keep California truly Green?
The Redlands area has somewhere between 1,300 and 1,500 acres of citrus, perhaps 1,000 or more in Crafton, several hundred in the city and about 200 in San Timoteo Canyon. If we extrapolate the figures from the 23 acre example, and use an average for acreage of 1,400, those trees capture 6,380.96 tons of CO2, release 5,151.39 tons of O2 while producing 11,200,000 pounds of fruit with a value of $5,600,000 at fifty cents per pound, new money directly into our local economy.
At the same time our approximately five square miles of open space canyon lands, as well as our thousands of deciduous shade trees, burst emerald green in the early spring, turning CO2 and water into sugars, starches and cellulose, in the process capturing thousands of tons of the greenhouse gas, while releasing fresh oxygen into our local atmosphere.
Our state, and especially our region, has some of the best agricultural lands in the world and when coupled with our Mediterranean Climate, provides us with a unique opportunity to contribute to the human enterprise. To trade all that for housing packed together for as far as the eye can see, I consider immoral.
If we must grow, clustering of housing at village-like nodes surrounded by green space would be the most acceptable model. The proposal for light rail to our town, many years in the works, could provide impetus to that form of planning, if coupled with one other necessary requirement - that the clusters higher density be dependent on the transfer of development rights from our open space and citrus lands, a much broadened version of Measure U=s application. If, as proposed, seven stations will be on the Redlands route, the opportunity for saving significant land will be possible. But the trades in development rights would have to be of sufficient scale for the program to have any merit. The question is whether our elected representatives would have the political courage or vision to implement such a scheme.
Much is made of local sales taxes as the life blood of our town, And the more growth the more taxes. But a significant portion of that money, while important to funding the city=s operations, adds little to our total economy. And little mention is made of the fact that residential development costs more in services than it yields in taxes. It=s those dollars that come from new money brought in from elsewhere - tuition from out of area U of R students, sales by ESRI, commuters working out of town, and, yes, our citrus. And, yes, again, our open space and sylvan character, which attracts residents with greater discretionary incomes, adding to our property and sales tax base.
In sum: If the paving and roofing over of much and the xeriscaping of the rest of our land, while compensating with use of ever more energy for cooling with its negative impacts on climate and the air we breathe, all the while destroying the sylvan beauty we so much treasure defines ASmart Growth,@ count me out. It=s entirely Too Smart for me.
The worrisome thing to me is that the human enterprise behaves as if it were immune to limits, that we can continue on the present path forever. That there are no limits in the natural world. Climatologists for the last several decades have been sounding the alarm about climate, that we may have already exceeded the limit for carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping gases in the atmosphere. Others that petroleum=s peak is near. Others that we have exceeded, or soon will, the earth=s ability to feed us. And the maldistribution and degradation of water is lost to, or ignored in, the civic discourse.
Ours has been the most blessed of generations. We=ve exploited, yes even plundered, the earth=s gifts. We=ve been beneficiaries of the explosion of scientific knowledge, time unmatched in human history. But that knowledge leaves me, especially as I close in on the end of my turn, with a gnawing sense of guilt. That we have not set the table to be as bountiful for succeeding generations. We=ve failed as stewards in not addressing the problems we=ve created, including the monster of population growth.
We=re on course to soon reach nine billion. At some point there must be a limit. Will it be famine, wars of migration added to those of today over resources? Shouldn=t the dialogue and planning be about not just carrying capacity, although that would be a good place to start, but about the quality of life, itself. The US has tripled in population in a century, California up by five times since I was a boy. Our town=s population is up nearly four times in a few decades.
That issue, which drives many of the problems surrounding water and global warming, can be ignored no longer. I believe that there is an inflection point for each that should be a question for discussion and decision not tomorrow, but today before it is too late. The modest exercise of this paper is intended as one piece of a challenge as to how we view the future of our own backyard.