Tag Archives: Orange County

California Drought Sim, Water Use, and Preserving Open Space

Researchers simulated a 70-year mega-drought and came up with ways that California could survive without the economy collapsing, emptying out the state, or even abandoning agriculture. We’d have to change the way we store and distribute water, recycle more wastewater, do groundwater replenishment, prioritize different (and less thirsty) crops, and of course cut down on our water use. It would hurt, and smaller, rural towns would be worse hit than cities (which is already happening — there are places out in Tulare county, for instance, where wells are drying up and homes no longer have running water). But the simulation suggests it could be done — and it’s a good idea to plan for this, just in case, rather than relying on the drought to end in a year or two. Geologic evidence suggests that decades-long droughts used to be the norm, and of course who knows what “normal” is going to be over the next century.

Another article details how Southern Californians have been changing water use this summer: letting lawns die, using more reclaimed water, draining fountains and converting commercial landscaping. The average Los Angeles resident has cut back to 89 gallons per day.

I can’t say I’ve seen much change in my area since I started noticing the occasional lawn replaced with native plants back at the start of the year. Maybe a few more native gardens or scraggly lawns, but not a sea change. Katie does a lot more walking, though, and she’s noticed that a lot of houses just have dirt. Apartments mostly still have lawns, but at least that’s more people per square foot of grass. Unfortunately nobody wants to wash the smears of dog poop off of the sidewalk.

Swimming Pool Under Construction.Meanwhile, the office building to hotel conversion next door to my workplace has embarked on what they’re replacing that giant lawn with: a swimming pool. A sign out front proclaims an early 2015 opening. Someone’s optimistic about water for next year.

On a related note, the Irvine Company is planning to donate what’s left of the Irvine Ranch to the county as open space. Good!

I’ve lamented the loss of both open space and local farmland over the past twenty years or so as more and more of Orange County has been paved over with houses and shopping malls. Since moving to the South Bay, I’ve seen the potential endgame. “Open space” out here consists of the occasional empty block that’s been set aside, or a hillside that’s too steep to build on conveniently. Palos Verdes has a bit more, but it’s filling in. At least the Portuguese Bend area is likely to stay clear, since the ground isn’t stable enough to build on.

“Who puts a fountain in the middle of a library?”

That was essentially my reaction to walking into the Huntington Beach Central Library a few weeks ago (though it looks really nice), and I was reminded of it when I stumbled on this line in Lev Grossman’s The Magician’s Land. (No context for you.) Now I know why Katie laughed when I showed her the picture the day after she finished the book.

Return of Saddleback & San Gabriel Snow

The rain on Friday dropped the annual light dusting of snow on Saddleback. I caught glimpses of it while out walking with J on Saturday, but the peaks were still shrouded in clouds. Sunday, however, the sky was almost completely clear.

I kind of wish that sign wasn’t in the middle there, but my Photoshop (well, Gimp) skills aren’t quite up to it. Maybe I’ll give it a shot with context-aware fill at some point.

It was awfully hazy toward the north, though, and you can see the San Gabriels are fading into the haze toward the left of the frame.

These were taken at the same spot as the loooong snowy panorama from January 2008, the Misty Mountains from December of the same year, and the cloud window panorama from January 2010. (I should really just come up with something to tag all the photos I’ve taken there.)

Beware Mountain Lion (Peters Canyon Hike)

A couple of weeks ago I just had to get out of the house for an afternoon and found myself at the entrance to Peters Canyon Park. The last time I’d been there, the park was closed due to recent rains. This time, it was open.

Several trails run from the entrance around the edge of the park, and one goes inward to an area that’s currently closed off. Because…well…take a look:

Damaged sign: Warning - Mountain Lion Country

I couldn’t help but take a picture. It went so perfectly with this sign I found in Hawaii near the active lava flows: Continue reading

Old Town Irvine After the Storm

Well, technically, during a lull in the storm. The clouds were moving very fast, with light and shadow moving over the empty fields and office parks, and I waited several minutes for the sun to play over this scene.

I particularly liked the contrast of the dead brown tumbleweeds scattered around the bright green meadow.

My one regret with this photo is not being able to capture the steep drop-off into a wash right below the frame. I could get the wash, or the sky, but not both.

The large barn-like structure used to be a packing house for the Irvine Ranch farms, and is now split between a motel (the La Quinta Inn) and a group of restaurants.