Down to a Trickle

Bruce Krasting's picture

Down to a Trickle

Courtesy of Bruce Krasting

Some much needed rain is headed to the East Coast for the weekend.  The question is, "Will it be enough to end the drought"?

I look after a five-acre pond that’s thirty miles north of NYC. There's not much to it. I keep the sluice clean, maintain the concrete and earth dam, and once every year or so I struggle to get a permit for a few irradiated (sterilized) carp to keep the weeds down (see note below). I’ve been doing this for twenty-five years.

In dry years, the water level has fallen below the sluice a few times, but this has only happened in late summer. So far, 2012 is setting up as an extremely dry year. The overflow of this pond is down to a trickle. The water level will fall below the sluice in a matter of days.



The dry conditions extend past my little pond to most of the East coast. These slides from NOAA show the rainfall over the past 90 and 30 days. Many areas of the country have had 25% (or less) of average rainfall.





It’s not just the USA that is looking at a drought. The UK is dry as a bone:



A contributing factor to the change in rainfall pattern over the past three-months is that the two year long La Nina cycle is ending. ENSO neutral conditions in the Pacific Ocean have been re-established. From the April 16 report from NOAA:



The timing of the sharp reversal of water temperatures in two of the regions of the Pacific where the transition is taking place match the onset of the dry conditions:


The computer models forecast a shift from ENSO neutral conditions to a full El Nino over the next six months:



The record spring heat, the explosion of tornadoes and the below average rainfall have prompted a variety of reports blaming climate change for these occurrences. Maybe, maybe not. If the observable weather patterns are attributable to the change from La Nina to El Nino conditions, then there would be nothing unusual about it at all.

Look at how the Pacific Ocean has flip flopped from La to El conditions over the years:




My pond is designated as a class B watershed area for NYC’s water supply. As a result, there are many restrictions. (Basically it must stay as it is). No chemicals are permitted, so algae are an issue. Carp eat the green stuff, but if they multiply, they can devour all the vegetation. This would starve the water for oxygen. Hence the need for a permit to get the carp, and the requirement that the fish must be sterilized.

In mid-April the average overflow into the reservoir system is 2m gallons per day (I keep track), enough for 10,000+ people. As of today, that is down to zero. If the dry spell is extended much longer, water restrictions will be imposed on a wide section of the country.

To those NYers who do get some water from this pond, I’m doing my best to keep it clean for you. As far as I can tell, the whole system is pretty good.

There was one time that two deer fell through the ice and drowned. They bloated up and floated for a month. Stank like hell before they sank. That’s part of the mix too…

Drink up!



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mind_imminst's picture

Hey Bruce: I would like to offer some guidance, because I blog about this stuff all the time. You made a slight analysis error on the El Nino thing. The average of the computer models predicting the ENSO trend for the next few months barely gets up to 0.50 degrees above normal (for central Pacific ocean temps). Official El Nino conditions do not occur until central Pacific ocean temps average 0.50 degrees above normal (or higher) for at least three months. A couple of the computer models show "weak" El Nino conditions developing by the end of the year but most do not. Long range models (months to a year) are still kind-of a crap shoot, so take them with a grain of salt. If El Nino develops it usually does mean warmer and drier conditions during the winter for the northern half of the country, but it is less pronounced along the east coast due to Altantic ocean influences. El Nino usually does not have a pronounced affect on Summer-time weather patterns in the U.S. Just thought I would give you a heads up on some of the ENSO details so you don't expect the worst when it is not guaranteed to happen.

dolly madison's picture

Corporations are a structure that allows people to limit their personal liabilities for their business ventures.  That limiting of liability is a problem.  People should be liable for what they do.  Corporations are immortal with the rights of people, but without the responsibilities. 

They were first created in England.  They were the thing our founding fathers were fighting.  That was corporate tea they dumped.  At first our founding fathers were very controlling of corporations, and the people involved did have liability.  Corporations initially were only allowed if they operated for the public good.  Now they are immortal entities without liability that do not have to serve the public good.  Such a dangerous thing.  It is representative democracy that has allowed them to morph into what they are.  Whoever has the money, lobbies the few representatives to change the laws to their whim and the corporations had the money.

Sometimes while watching highlander I thought it would be such a boon to live forever.  The immortal could set up investments, and over time acquire a great deal of wealth, much more wealth than a mere mortal.  And that is how corporations got the money to buy our government.

If we keep with representative democracy, things cannot get better in a lasting way.  Perhaps they could get some better for awhile, but then eventually slide back to bad again.  There is a missing check and balance with representative democracy.  The veto of the people.  When there are a few representatives, they can be bribed or threatened, but they can't bribe or threaten all of us.  We need the powers of recall, referendum and initiative to make a lasting good for the people.

Additionally the sociopaths in government try to put regulation on new industry in order to extort lobbying money from that industry.  Both sides of it are crooked, and we people have so far had to put up with this.  But the veto of the people would also put a damper on congress' bad behavior.

GeneMarchbanks's picture

While you clearly have your finger on the pulse, this little part was kind of superficial:

Corporations initially were only allowed if they operated for the public good.  Now they are immortal entities without liability that do not have to serve the public good.  Such a dangerous thing.  It is representative democracy that has allowed them to morph into what they are.  Whoever has the money, lobbies the few representatives to change the laws to their whim and the corporations had the money.

You describe the state of affairs very well yet, going deeper, what does this really mean? Here's DF Wallace:

“How can even the idea of rebellion against corporate culture stay meaningful when Chrysler Inc. advertises trucks by invoking “The Dodge Rebellion”? How is one to be bona fide iconoclast when Burger King sells onion rings with “Sometimes You Gotta Break the Rules”? How can an Image-Fiction writer hope to make people more critical of televisual culture by parodying television as a self-serving commercial enterprise when Pepsi and Subaru and FedEx parodies of self-serving commercials are already doing big business? It’s almost a history lesson: I’m starting to see just why turn-of-the-century Americans’ biggest fear was of anarchist and anarchy. For if anarchy actually wins, if rulelessness become the rule, then protest and change become not just impossible but incoherent. It’d be like casting a ballot for Stalin: you are voting for an end to all voting.”

'Democracy' today is nothing but an easy guise for social atomization done in the interest of the trans-global corporations. Mere Ochlocracy results as each new generation becomes more and more childlike in its naivete. Corporate personhood does indeed exist, demonstrated very aptly by Mittens Rmoney.

chebetts's picture

Orrr all this mumbo jumbo could be due to weather modification and its fun times with geoengineering? Naw that can't be it, must be some changing water temperatures and "the girl" or "the boy" in Spanish, yep.


This is my "weather man." hmmph.  the links on the right can give you a little more further reading on the subject.


The rabbit hole commences....however it could all be due to changing soil temperatures in Europe called "der junge" oder "die madchen."

The Navigator's picture

Normalcy Bias

I think some of us here at ZH are getting to used to reading Doom Porm and letting it slip to the back of our minds what it all means - we see and comment on the trees and forget about the forest - I say this as I see myself doing it.

When I first arrived at planet ZH, I wondered and marvled at the honesty being reported on economics, finance and the markets. But not long after (6 months to a 1 year) I was enthralled with the trees and commenting on them and forgot about the forest.

When I look at and compare the headlines from 2010 and 2012, shit has gone crazier. We've all been caught in the frog-in-the-pot-with-raising-temps syndrome.

All I'm saying is do a reality check and see/verify where we were 2, 4, or 6 years ago - i.e. the NDAA law.

Element's picture

Which is why I make basic notes and track things in spreadsheets, economic conditions, events, FX, what the idiots in the MSM are saying.  File it away, review periodically, and get a perspective jolt.  

It also tells you about where you're going ... which is what really matters in the final analysis. So it's good to have things like repositories of past observations and comments, I just wish there was an easier interface to see and get to them.

A searchable and highlight-able keyword chronological full-text listing of all comments would be a helpful community tool Sacrilege.

Vic Vinegar's picture

@ "The Navigator,

Good job.  If I were your boss, I'd give you a raise and a promotion.  I say that with no sarcasm or bitterness.

-I digress here for a moment to equate the feelings of many original Zero Hedge commenters with those of Ray Manzerek of the Doors from VH1's "Behind the Music" - 

we captured timeless moments and moments in time.

That crew who was here for the first 2+ years truly did.  Now we have to deal with your kind intercepting reality.  Consider this sentence:

All I'm saying is do a reality check and see/verify where we were 2, 4, or 6 years ago - i.e. the NDAA law.

That didn't compute with me and was total fuking nonsense.  But it was brilliant in its own way.

Poor Richard never lived long enough to update this quote.  It may seem cheesy but I'll do it:

"The only things certain in life are death, taxes, and special-interests attacking truth reported on Zero Hedge.  At least we will always have this Roxette tune." 

-Ben Franklin

Clowns on Acid's picture

El Nino is coming..? Buy soybeans !

q99x2's picture

On a long enough timeline consciousness is cyclical. Although mines been rather cosistant since AA.

williambanzai7's picture

I believe all the water has been diverted to liquidity.

hidingfromhelis's picture

Yeah, but pretty soon it's going to get vaporized.

Money Squid's picture

You financial types are not very practical. Turn on your groundwater well pump and fill the lake. Much of the water will infiltrate back into the groundwater anyway. No well, drill one. Easy.

Wags's picture

Don't buy all the gloom & doomers. Rainfall is cycially and have been for thousands of years. In California the Municpal Water Districts were crying about the lack of rainfall & snow a month ago. Rate increase were around the corner. Today our major dams are above normal for this time of year.

jonjon831983's picture

Cyclical, true - but for how long are the cycles?

1 year is difficult but survivable current resources, but 10 years of a cycle would ruin people.

tom a taxpayer's picture

Bruce is a financial Thoreau.

Like Thoreau's musings at Walden Pond, Bruce's musings at Carp Pond are a classic.


whatsinaname's picture

Are we going to see a repeat of the Dust Bowl years like we saw some 80 years ago ? Hope not..

GMadScientist's picture

Had a nice vacation up in Yosemite last snowed hard one day we were there (like it was a scheduled event) and was gone by the time we started the drive home.

Reminded me of this:

Downtoolong's picture

I mentioned in a prior post how I once invented a fledgling OTC weather derivatives market back in the late 1990’s. Go check out the articles in Energy and Power Risk Magazine if you don’t believe me. I was once dubbed the world’s first weather broker.  The contracts mostly settled on temperature and degree day indices, similar to the monthly’s that I think still trade on the CME. We didn’t do many contracts in precipitation because there is too much basis risk. It can be raining on the other side of the street and not in your pond.

One thing I learned from this experience was the concept of normal weather. It’s similar to an average outcome that is everyone’s best expectation of what is going to happen next. The other thing I learned is that normal weather never ever  actually happens.    

onlooker's picture


Good rain in N. Texas since November with a mild winter. Good hay this year. Local water supply lake went from 20’ down in November to full now. I fed cattle from a water trough last summer because the pond was bad. It is now over full. Hope the rain continues.


Debt-Is-Not-Money's picture

Glad to hear it. I'm in SE Louisiana and for the first time in three years our little pond is full (the fish were fixin' to go walkies).

For the past several years as you know all of Texas and the Deep South have been in an exceptional drought. West Texas and the Southeast are still that way. My relatives and friends up in the Northeast were not very sympathetic, now it's their turn...

knukles's picture

Where's Al Gore when we need him?

Born-Again Bankster's picture

He's oceanfront on the west coast in his McMansion.  I hear it has its own desalinization plant in the basement so he's not worried.

nmewn's picture

O'Barry was elected, the waters receded, the planet is healed.

El Gordo's picture

My guess is that the Earth's water supply in its various forms (liquid, solid, and gas) remains constant.  Mother nature determines where she wants to move it around from and to, but the amount of rainfall is also a constant.  Sometimes it rains here, and sometimes it rains over there.  It's been that way for a long time now, and most likely, it will continue to be that way for the forseeable future.

prains's picture

it won't stop fucking raining here, last years mosquito crop was so large they formed black clouds you could see on the horizon. black fucking vertically stacked clouds of mosquitos for as far as the eye could see, all because the rain

made so much standing water for them to hatch from. blood donorship was an all time low.

El Gordo's picture

I caught a mosquito sexually molesting a turkey last week down here on the gulf coast.

Wakanda's picture

The peepers are early in the Adirondacks after a schizophrenic maple syrup season.  Not one report of high grade extra light syrup, not even from the first runs.  The lake rose the least amount I can remember during the seasonal thaw, probably because the snow pack in the surrounding hills was so light.  The ice was six inches thinner than usual this winter in spite of having less snow insulation.  Warm winter, low precipitation, lots of horizontal winds, my forecast is for a hot summer.

Almost Solvent's picture

Upper Saranac every year for a relaxing week out on "Buck" Island - no electric, no running water, no outside world - best way to decompress

GeezerGeek's picture

"There was one time that two deer fell through the ice and drowned." This reminded me of the solution used by Austrian farmers in the Alps some 11 years ago when their cows died. Dynamite.


Mr Lennon Hendrix's picture

Drought?  Check.  Radiation from Fukushima killing the Pacific food chain?  Check.  BP oil spill killing the food chain in the Gulf?  Check.

Yup, everything is turning up roses

NotApplicable's picture

You can expand Pacific food chain to the entire northern hemisphere eventually. Cesium rain is not your friend.

Hoop houses however, are.

krispkritter's picture

Hoop houses. Check.  Have not figured out the rainwater capture checking system yet but I plan on some type of safe water access via the springs which come out of the hillside.

KK Tipton's picture

Slow sand filters. Total DIY. No chemicals and no replacement filters to buy.
Just specific grades of sand:

KAF Construction Manual PDF -


Everybody should know how to build one.

That and a MIDGE stove:
Gasifier Stoves/ Woodgas - YouTube -

knukles's picture

The shit blowing in from Japan does not contrary to popular opinion, stop at the ca/nv border  Plus most of the  us's veggies is grown in  ca...

Rainman's picture

The East Coast has too many deer....PA and NY especially. This is a direct result of the pussification and AAPLization of American men. Young men used to hunt with their fathers and grandfathers during season, thus controlling the population of the prolific deer. Then hand it down to the next generation, and on.  Venison tastes darn good when properly prepared even though it is different from the McDonalds sheet these kids ingest. Too many deer, not enough hunters.

 / hunter's rant for the day / 

Nobody For President's picture

And no more cougars - man (and automobiles) about the only deer predators left.

The Navigator's picture

When TSHTF and city folk are expecting to hunt in the hills, they'll be disappointed - no deer, no cougar, and just a couple of squirrels. After a couple of weeks, the squireels will all be gone. Prep up on other food stuffs. And other things.

Vic Vinegar's picture

Can you believe ZH has been around for 3+ years and none of the "bad guys" have gone to jail?  It's kinda crazy, huh?

In any case, here we are with a greenie for you b/c this was good:

Prep up on other food stuffs.

Good advice.

This - on the other hand - 

When TSHTF and city folk are expecting to hunt in the hills, they'll be disappointed - no deer, no cougar, and just a couple of squirrels.

- just appears to be you getting lost in your own fantasies.  No one needs that.

When my head hits the pillow at night, I think of Sasha Grey, not city folk hunting squirrels.  But no one needs either of our fantasies b/c they aren't actionable.

Let's give people practical advice - stock tips and stocking up on food are good.  Buy physical is the best advice.

Lednbrass's picture

Wish we had that problem here in western SC, its a very rare kid in my sons high school that doesnt have a deer rifle.  The game wardens I talked to are actually worried about the population and we didnt see a single deer last couple times out. Next year Im either gonna have to head east, join a club, or take him to the special 400 acre youth only plot.

blunderdog's picture

I hunted a bit as a teenager, but got too sick of hanging around with the assholes I knew who were doing it, so gave it up.

There aren't really "too many" deer until they're starving.  Usually there's supposed to be some give-and-take from the DEC on that--they can drop the cost of licenses and alter the season a bit if need be.  They're probably too busy doing something else, though.  Or none of the employees left know anything about hunting.

brettd's picture

Not too many deer?  Ask a car insurance agent in New Jersey.

It's insane.  

They think it's more humane for a deer to die a two hour death of internal bleeding from being hit by a car

than being dropped by a .308 in 5 seconds---and pehaps being harvested as food to feed the unemployed.

KK Tipton's picture

I've been wondering if this has been assisting the spread of Lyme Disease ticks.

Bag em' and tag em' Americans! Do your part keeping the herd healthy.

krispkritter's picture

I don't currently hunt mine because I consider it 'stored food'.  I just keep the local deer, pigs, turkey, etc. interested by putting down pea, corn, and other 'vittles' in the mostly dry pond bed. My trail cams allow me to monitor them. Should things get crazy, they'll end up dried, frozen, or fresh, on the tail end of a good Merlot of course. Now if I can just get my muscadines and cherries to produce enough for some wines that'll help...

DCFusor's picture

They don't store forever, you know, really old deer aren't that great as food.  So like a woodlot, you thin all the time to manage a herd the best.  Keep taking out the losers and help Darwin along a little - the results are good and happen fairly quickly.  Most hunters take the best - that's a mistake, as the worst are left to breed.  I know this as I have a herd of about 30 on my land to manage along with the rest.  I don't hunt myself, though I'm a shooter - others enjoy it so much I let them do it in exchange for some of the goodies. 

dogbreath's picture

Venison Goulash

3 lbs venison cubed to about 1 - 1.5 inches

good lard, goose grease or (last) suet

3 medium onions chopped

several small tomatoes


In a heavy pot sear the venison on most sides with the hot lard using an even layer of venison on the bottom of the pot.  Place the seared meat in a separate dish and repeat till all the meat is seared.

Place all the seared meat back in the pot with the chopped onion, some garlic (+/-) maybe 5 cloves, some salt and pepper and then cover with water  and bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer.

Add several table spoons of Hungarian Paprika or New mexico Red Chile. 

Add the tomatoes.  These should be smallish so the don't have to be chopped.

Taste.  Add Paprika and garlic to taste

The sauce can be thickened with a bit of cornstarch or flour.

Simmer untill the meat is tender,  a couple of hours.


You can use 1/3 pork meat if you like and its also great 


I cut up some dill pickles (meat cube size) at the end and throw them in with a bit of vinigar.  adds a bit of tang

LawsofPhysics's picture

Can the Fed print water?  call them up Burce.  Let me just add an agricultural perspective.  Most of our silos are empty, becuase of the great prices we have been getting for grains, soybeans, and even corn.  Considering where diesel has been and prospects for a dry growing season, food inflation will be a bitch.

BTW, how would a 5% iincrease in food costs impact the cost of SNAP?  Bruce, please do an analysis.

NotApplicable's picture

I was discussing local tax revenues today, as they're "not as bad" as projected. Has the economy improved? Nope. Spending has just shifted from luxuries to necessities (read: food). So the tax base won't take a hit until many  people cannot afford rising food prices. So over time, more and more will be added to SNAP, which pays no sales taxes.