Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Handel's Water Music

Handel & King George on the Thames, by Hamman

I was listening to the radio the other day when the segment airing started talking about "water music".  Turns out it was featuring composer George Frideric Handel.  From the NPR segment notes:
"In 1717, with England's King George suffering somewhat in the polls, his political advisors suggested that he do something big to get the people behind him. So they came up with the idea of a summer boating party on the Thames.

As the king's court composer, [Handel] was commissioned to write music for this spectacle. The king and his favorites listened from the royal barge as an ensemble of 50 musicians played from another, while boats "beyond counting" crowded alongside.

Though the original scores have been lost, it's clear from the instrumentation and keys that Handel composed the Water Music in three suites: a large one in F with 10 movements, featuring two horns; one in D with five movements (among them the celebrated "Alla Hornpipe"); and one in G with seven movements. While the suites in F and D are clearly open-air music, meant to be played on the barge, the G major grouping was intended perhaps to accompany the king's meal down the river at Chelsea."

The three suites are:

Suite in F major

  1. Overture (Largo – Allegro)
  2. Adagio e staccato
  3. Allegro – Andante – Allegro da capo
  4. Minuet
  5. Air
  6. Minuet
  7. Bourrée
  8. Hornpipe
  9. Allegro (no actual tempo marking)
  10. Allegro (variant)
  11. Alla Hornpipe (variant)

Suite in D major

  1. Overture (Allegro)
  2. Alla Hornpipe
  3. Minuet
  4. Lentement
  5. Bourrée

Suite in G major

  1. Allegro
  2. Rigaudon
  3. Allegro
  4. Minuet
  5. Allegro
Somehow I feel if Handel's "Water Music" were about groundwater, it'd be a heavier type of music - perhaps needing Wagner's genius. Of course, had Wagner handled it, it would have taken another 150 years or so to get done.  Come to think of it, that'd just be par for the course, considering the source!

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Rain, Irrigation and Declines in GMD 4

One would hope that irrigation, precipitation and groundwater level changes are all relational - the more it rains, the less we irrigate and the slower the water level decline goes.  The following are data for the 10 Counties in NW Kansas for the years 2000 through 2012.  

Col 1 = Year; Col 2 = Annual average precip (10 stations); Col 3 = Reported water use (GMD 4 total, all uses except domestic); Col 4 = Acres reported irrigated; Col 5 = Inches of water reported applied per reported acre irrigated; and Col 6 = January 1 (following year) water level change.  Unfortunately, 2012 data for water use and acres irrigated are not yet available.

The water level change data come from 275 observation wells across the entire GMD area that are measured each January. 

Year  Precip     Wtr Use      Ac Irr      In/Ac      WL Chg
2000   16.72      497,737      386,055        1.29      -1.16
2001   19.79      424,223      380,152        1.12      -0.41
2002   11.30      527,661      386,350        1.37      -1.51
2003   14.06      484,311      386,979        1.25      -1.14
2004   20.13      479,461      385,161        1.24      -0.6
2005   21.15      397,666      381,202        1.04      -0.57
2006   19.37      435,017      379,479        1.15      -0.29
2007   17.07      417,848      377,010        1.11      -0.89
2008   21.65      406,801      377,691        1.08      -0.42
2009   25.59      301,350      376,254        0.80        0.1
2010   17.45      368,030      376,969        0.98      -0.5
2011   22.48      435,900      380,667        1.15      -0.59
2012   11.76


I see a pretty strong correlation (inverse) between rainfall and annual declines - Col 2 and Col 6.  When the rainfall increases, the water level decline rate decreases.  Just eyeballing the numbers, it appears to me that with average annual rainfall (18.35 inches) we'd expect about a .6 foot decline.  With 23-24 inches of rainfall, a .25 foot decline, and with 12-15 inches somewhere around a 1.5 foot decline.

I see a little less correlation between the reported water use and the water level change, but there is still some relationship.  It is quite true in the extremes, anyway - the wettest year (2009) saw the least water used and the smallest water level change while the driest year (2002) saw the greatest water use and the largest water level change.

Most can probably see the inherent sense of all this, but may wonder why there is not a perfect relationship between rainfall, pumpage and declines.  Well there are a number of reasons why we'll never see such an absolute relationship:

1)  The rainfall data provided is annual precipitation.  Six months out of the year the rainfall is far less relevant to crops and irrigation.  There is probably a more relevant relationship between in-season rainfall and what we're trying to show, but this is hard to flesh out when our region gets just 60-65% of its total rainfall in season.

2)  The rainfall data is highly variable - meaning that while the entire NW Kansas average may have been 20 inches, we easily could have had irrigation areas that only got 14 while other areas got 23.   

3)  The quality of rainfall is never known in the data.  You might get 20 inches of annual rain, but if it came in 5 hard rains of 4 inches each over a three hour period, most of it ran off and did not contribute to soil moisture conditions that would allow for reduced irrigation.

4)  Any water level change is a function of natural recharge and pumping withdrawals. While more rain generally means increased recharge (and reduced pumpage) it is not an exact relationship (see reason 3) above).

5)  Cropping is in constant flux and different crops affect withdrawals differently - both the timing and quantity.

6)  A late freeze in the Spring, hail, excessive insect or weed pressures all affect an irrigated crop and the amount of water applied.  It may rain 15 inches, but if a late Spring freeze takes out your corn crop, irrigation is greatly reduced that year.

Anyway, I think you get the picture.  But I have to say, all-in-all, there is a pretty good relationship in GMD 4 between rainfall, irrigation use and groundwater declines.  Now, if it'd only rain - at the right time, in the right amount and with the perfect intensity...

Monday, April 22, 2013

How Many Water Meetings Can There Be?

I get a publication out of Eugene, Oregon called The Water Report - edited by David Moon and David Light (who I normally refer to as "Davids by the Light of the Moon" - not to either one of them, mind you).

Anyway, in every edition they have a section listing water meetings, symposia, conferences, webinars, etc. that they are aware of around the globe - although most of the listings are US events.  And this is the case in their latest edition dated April 15, 2013.  I was scanning this list because the Groundwater Management Districts Association (GMDA) that I am involved in has its Summer Conference coming up on June 2-4 in Colorado Springs, Colorado, and I wanted to see if they captured this event.

Well they hadn't, but they did list 73 other events scheduled between April 15 and June 7, 2013.  Seventy-three water conferences!  And only 4 of those were outside the US - one each in Spain, Canada, France and the Netherlands.  That's a lot of water dialog for sure - must mean the topic has a fair level of importance.
I don't know how exhaustive their meetings listing is from edition to edition, but based on the quality of the report and of their featured articles I'd guess it's well above average.  It is a subscription report, but if you have to know about water, it may be well worth the cost.  Give it a look-see.

Oh, while your at it, take a look at the GMDA conference coming up in June, as well.  We're not a very big association, but most of the principals are very helpful and a ton of fun.  Me?  Not so much.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

SD-6 LEMA Now Underway

With the signing of the final LEMA action - the Order of Designation - the Kansas Chief Engineer on April 17 set the SD-6 LEMA a-sail.  Over the next 5 years these intrepid water users will do what is necessary to reduce total water use by some 20% in order to slow the decline rate and extend the economic longevity of their local groundwater supplies.  They are to be congratulated, in my opinion.

But we're not setting them a-sail without any oars.  The federal Risk Management Agency (RMA) has authorized a brand new, only in SD-6, limited irrigation insurance program whereby these producers can insure their limited irrigation corn and soybeans starting this year.  Wow, who thought that'd happen?  The local proposal also provides ample water use flexibility by: 1) converting each water right to a 5-year allocation; 2) allowing multiple water rights to combine allocations; and 3) providing instant transfers of water between allocations.  Our GMD has developed a special newsletter (the SD-6 LEMA Ledger - shown above) to keep everyone up to date with the process and identify potential pitfalls.  Finally, Governor Sam Brownback has fast-tracked a special task force charged to develop strategies whereby limited irrigation producers can maintain or even increase their ag production - again, focused primarily in this LEMA.

All in all, I think this is local control at its best, and not likely to get any better.  So if unused, or poorly used, or (worst of all) summarily rejected, the only likely alternative will be enhanced state control.  I've discussed this before, and still see this as the number one potential problem.  I'll cover more on this topic, from other perspectives, as the process continues to unfold.