0.39" rain; 2.17" total rainfall

22 Dec 0.34" AM
This was a gentle evening through early morning rain- the kind that soaks in nicely.
23 Dec 0.05"
Just the remnants of the previous storm.

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0.20" rain; 1.78" season total

19 Dec 0.20" for total of 1.78" this season.

The Santa Barbara outpost also reported 0.20". Usually they have more than us.

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0.20" rain; 1.58" season total

It was cold and windy last night and we had 0.2" before I went to bed.  Clear skies this morning indicate we're all done with this storm. 


Skunks and possums, still trying to cohabitate

I re-stacked the bricks. Silly me. I thought that they had to be moved to allow ingress and egress.Time stamps are accurate in these photos.
Nope.  At least the possums can come and go as they want.

0.02" rain; 1.38" total

10 Dec 2015 0.02"

It came down heavily for an short time and then just sort of fizzled.  I went out and watered the garden.  More rain is on the way, they tell me.

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Surge tanks vs. rain barrels III - storm intensity

In order to answer questions that I have about how large a surge tank is needed to accommodate a certain number of local storms, we need to know about rainfall intensity.  Intensity tells us how much rain we get in a unit of time.

Intensity has a simple answer when considering the duration of a storm as your time interval.  If a storm lasts T hours and it drops 1" of rain, then 1"/ T is the average rate of rainfall.  However, real storms of consequence don't behave like that.  Typically they start out slowly, have a peak rate of rainfall, and then taper off.  From what I've been able to tell, there are two main ways to estimate storm intensity: Using a model hyetograph or using Intensity Duration Frequency (IDF) graphs.


Skunks and possums, living together!

And under my house, too.

The current plan is to wake up at 3AM (there's a +1:12 error in the time stamp on the photos), block the opening with a screen, and then monitor through the screen with the camera trap to see if I've trapped any inside.  If so, let them out the following night.  A one-way door would work better if I can make or buy one.

There's a crawl space vent that is broken and I've blocked it with bricks.  Little good that does.


Surge tanks vs. rain barrels II

In this post I'm trying to estimate the usefulness of a rain barrel operated as surge tank. 

The valve is open all the time when a rain barrel is used as a surge tank.

This is a bit stream-of-consciousness, and engineering-estimate-like so just skip it if that bothers you.  It could very well be wrong too.  I'm not paid in anything other than pride for this writing gig, so fact cross-checking sometimes gets short shrift.  A little Googling provided the information used herein, and I'm sure you can find similar numbers for your area if you care to.

The first question I asked was how big must a surge tank be to capture rainfall effectively in a downpour?


Surge tanks vs. rain barrels I

 I received a few electronic solicitations to get a free rain barrel from my local water district which I promptly ignored.  As I've noted before, they aren't a particularly good investment for southern California.

However, there are a couple specific exceptions to normal situations in which a rain barrel might be a good use of resources in our climate.  One of those is when it's used as a surge tank.  Surge tanks might sound complicated, but the concept of operations for a rain barrel used as a surge tank is not that different than a rain barrel used as a reservoir.


You can have good policy or you can have good customer service

I live in a community that was given a 36% water use reduction target by the state.  Since I've always been careful with my water I thought that I would get credit for good behavior.  Not so, and poor policy is to blame.  So far as I can tell, my water allocation is determined by simple-minded application of the rule: Cut water usage from the 2013 average by 36%, but don't let the allocation drop below 6 hcf per month for any household.

Of course this benefits people who wasted water historically and penalizes those who conserved.  I was one who conserved, and so my water allocation was set at the floor of 6 hcf per month.  I've added a third person to my household, am now housing a teen, and water use is consequently up. Naturally, I petitioned to have a larger allocation.  I got it: Now I have 7 hcf per month, which adds up to about 57 gallons per person per day.  We would have to be reasonably eagled-eyed conservationists to hit that number, which is possible, but what about the fairness issue?  It doesn't take a super genius to intuit that most people aren't being held to similarly low requirements.  If we're all suffering together, then solidarity, brothers and sisters!  But if you are holding me to a tougher standard then f*** off, I'll sue.

A little Googling let me determine that the average usage in my zip code in the middle of last year was 24 hcf (bill insert in 6/2014).  Applying the state-mandated 36% reduction target to the average usage is 15 hcf, more than twice my increased allocation.  This is consistent with a neighbor's report (they are newly arrived in the neighborhood) that their allocation is 14 hcf.

Finally, I received a letter containing this graphic in my mail:
In case you are curious, the entire first page, minus my address information, is shown below in a clickable image.
So I'm using about half the amount of similar homes and I'm being chastised instead of lauded?  Really, I'd like to turn on a hose into the street just to protest.  The curse words flew but after I calmed down I called California Water Service where the nicest customer service person defused me.  She placed re-application for an additional allocation increase into review by management because that's what happens when you've been give the generous upper of 1 hcf already.  Apparently the backlog of management review cases is so large that it will take us into 2016, at which point something will happen.

The something they are probably hoping for is that El Nino will bring sufficient rain that our reductions will not be extended by Governor Brown (they are scheduled to end in February).  The something that I am afraid will happen is that I'll continue to be held to a higher standard than my neighbors and I'll have to participate in a class action lawsuit to change an obviously flawed policy.