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Bent Barrow Farm
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I am just wondering whether water independence is possible in a place where there are long, hot, dry summers (i.e. northern California). I love CA and was raised there, but I just cannot see myself depending on a manmade reservoir or any rural water services. I currently live in the rainy northwest, where nothing could ever stand in the way of our having adequate water for our gardens and livestock year round.

Is it possible to catch/store enough during seasonal rains (and with seasonal streams on the property) to allow for irrigation of a household vegetable garden all summer? How is the water table in Northern CA, Southern OR? Are privately owned wells a secure, permanent water source?

Thanks in advance for any advice!
 

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Yes, it probably is possible to catch all of your water needs, if you have a large enough surface to catch from. Here where I am (near Klamath Falls, Oregon, on the dry side of the Cascades) we get about 17 inches of precip. per year, and could easily catch enough water IF we had a larger roof area and a huge storage tank (or a series of them). As it is, we are blessed with a good water table and good water quality, and have a well that is about eighty feet deep and water only twenty feet or so down in the well (we are very close to the Klamath River). However, there are also places where wells have to be a thousand feet deep in order to get good water. So your best bet would be to go to the county offices in the area you are considering, and ask to look at their well logs. Ask them where the good water areas are, and where it would be best to avoid. For that matter, while you are there you could look at flood plain maps and zoning maps, and so on -- and get some idea of property taxes, too.

Kathleen
 

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NorCalFarm
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It is definitely possible to capture enough water if you have a few building to harvest from, the problem is the storage. I get over 30 inches of rain a year over a 5 month period. After several years of research I am just taking my first steps toward water independence. Wells are beginning to go dry in portions of my county and now southern California wants to pump ground water from the aquifers in nor cal and send it south through the aquaduct. My understanding is that wells all through the San Jaquin Valley are dry and so the big farmers/residents of sourthern California are not content with just our reservoir water, now they want our ground water. From the meetings I have gone to, I believe the Bureau of Reclamation is going to approve the project and the private sales of ground water. Long story short I would not count on a well in California, we are too stupid with our water to make it last.

Jason
 
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Wasn't the major reservoir that fed the aqua-duct critically low just a couple years ago ?
 

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Yes, it is possible to catch enough rainwater to meet a family's needs for the entire year. More expensive than most wells, but if you don't have good groundwater and/or adequate wells in the area, then rainwater catchment is the way to go. Good information can be found here: http://www.twdb.state.tx.us/publications/reports/rainwaterharvestingmanual_3rdedition.pdf

In a very dry climate, or one with very long spells of dry weather, you'd need a large capacity for storage (which is where the majority of the expense will be), but it certainly can be done.
 
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NorCalFarm
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Wasn't the major reservoir that fed the aqua-duct critically low just a couple years ago ?
Yes, if you are referring to Lake Oroville. Every year it drops hundreds of feet. This year it is full after a very rainy winter and heavy snowload but it will likely be down 200' by the end of the year. The BOR approved 80% of all water transfers for the year.
 

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Semper Fidelis
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A water shortage in Northern California?? Well maybe inland in the Central Valley, but not here along the coast, where we have soooo much water now it has saturated the ground badly.

I am on a shallow well and never have had a shortage of water.

My front neighbors have a pond, and it is filled by the rain runoff every year. Plus the wells up here on the hill have never gone dry, as the long time residents have told me.

Luckily the So-Cal folks haven't built an aquaduct to ship our water off. When I lived at the fish hatchery near Mammoth Lakes/ Mono Lake years ago, they were having problems with Mono lake dropping way to fast due to water diversion.
 

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It's not so easy for Southern California to take water now. I can remember when they offered to buy Columbia River water from Oregon and the state legislature was really seriously considering doing it. Now, with awareness of ecology and actual water shortages in Oregon, there is no way California would talk us out of any water.

I can also remember when people around Bishop, California were actually shot to death over water as Los Angeles took theirs.
 

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It's not so easy for Southern California to take water now. I can remember when they offered to buy Columbia River water from Oregon and the state legislature was really seriously considering doing it. Now, with awareness of ecology and actual water shortages in Oregon, there is no way California would talk us out of any water.

I can also remember when people around Bishop, California were actually shot to death over water as Los Angeles took theirs.
Those that didn't like Mulhulland's idea of taking water from the Mono lake area, bombed the pipeline a few times. Guards were posted with machine guns along the line. Some folks died. Mulhulland got paid back when the San Fransisquito dam let got and killed a bunch of folks.(my house here is about 10 minutes away from the old dam site.)
 
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