Tuesday, July 15, 2014


God called the dry land "the earth,"
and the basin of the water he called "the sea."
God saw how good it was.  Genesis
one of my favorite fountains in Seattle
Knowing that I live in the Pacific Northwest, the impression might be that I live among abundant rainfall and a wealth of water. That is a stereotype of our state.
When it rains, it pours.

It is true that our state contains at least two temperate rain forests, several year-round snow covered peaks, more than 25 glaciers, snow and water skiing, and a variety of other evidences of an abundance of the H2O.

But the truth is, I live in a desert.
while as yet there was no field shrub on earth and no grass of the field had sprouted, for the LORD God had sent no rain upon the earth and there was no man to till the soil, Genesis
It almost seems like wherever we go in Washington, we have a view of one of the mountains. Do you see Mt. Adams peeking over the hill in the distance?
 Webster's: 1 a :  arid land with usually sparse vegetation; especially :  such land having a very warm climate and receiving less than 25 centimeters (10 inches) of sporadic rainfall annually

Washington has two main ranges of mountains which are oriented from north to south--the Olympics and the Cascades. By the time the moisture coming in from the Pacific has fallen in the rain forests of the Olympic Peninsula, on the cities of the Puget Sound, and climbs the Cascades with a dusting or dumping of snow, there is little left for us in the valleys of Eastern Washington. (Eastern Oregon is similar.)

The Header theme that Mac gave us for this week is

While my home in the Yakima Valley is literally a desert with around ten inches of precipitation falling each year, it is a rich farmland due to irrigation. 
Mt. Adams in the distance beyond the sprinklers
 To enrich the waste and desolate ground
till the desert blooms with verdure?  Job
Grape vines overlook other crops and another set of sprinklers and the Horse Heaven Hills beyond.
Seed production in the Mid Columbia (and the sprinkler lines beyond.)

Circle Line Irrigation rig. (and another mountain view in the distance.)
 The computerized circle lines are a great improvement over the hand lines--looks like these are no longer in use.
These were idle in Eastern Oregon, but it WAS February.
These look more like they are getting ready for the season in early May. I like this image simply as a graphic.

So where does all this water come from?
but a stream was welling up out of the earth and was watering all the surface of the ground    Genesis
I don't have a picture of Grand Coulee Dam, but it is only one, and one of the earliest of the projects of the Bureau of Reclamation that make irrigated agriculture a possibility (and provide many megawatts of hydroelectricity.)
Just at the far edge of the visible water you can see Wanapum Dam on the Columbia.
It is one of a series of dams downstream from Grand Coulee.
What happens when the structure of a dam is compromised?

We took the above picture of the Columbia River when we climbed up to the Wild Horse statues near Vantage a few years ago. If we made the climb today--well, we would definitely not do the hike TODAY as it is 101º F.--desert anyone? Nevertheless, the view from this spot now has much less water, as some months ago the Wanapum Dam was found to have a crack. The water behind the dam was drawn down to relieve the pressure on the structure. The "beach" extends about halfway out into the river. The State Park at the upper right of the photo is closed to protect the environment and prevent people from illegal digging for artifacts. Additional efforts are made to insure the migration of fish.
Other dams
Shasta Dam in Northern California (Mt. Shasta in the background) is part of the irrigation system for California's Central Valley. From the water level of Lake Shasta, you can see part of the effects of drought.

Hoover Dam on the Arizona-Nevada border controls the Colorado and provides hydro power for a large area.
Lake Mead, behind it is even lower than Lake Shasta. Lake Powell, behind Glen Canyon Dam near the Arizona-Utah border is lower still.

Back in Washington, water from those series of dams is diverted into canals to serve the various irrigation districts in the Yakima Valley, the MidColumbia, the Wenatchee Valley, etc.

Diversion dams like this one control the irrigation canals.
There is not much of wild water left. We have done so much to control it. What might have been if we hadn't?
Control of the water provides irrigation and hydropower.
It provides flood control.
It also makes available habitat for wildlife.
 Then God said, "Let the water teem with an abundance of living creatures, and on the earth let birds fly beneath the dome of the sky." And so it happened:   Genesis
It provides abundant recreation.

And in some areas provides transportation.
One of the Washington State Ferries approaches the dock in Seattle.

Here in the desert we are not slave to the ferry schedule. When you live on an island in the Puget Sound, you are. Yes, that ferry has just left, it is not just arriving. We waited an hour for the next one to get off the island after visiting a friend.
"May God give to you of the dew of the heavens
And of the fertility of the earth abundance of grain and wine."  Genesis
Headbanger Challenge--WATER
Visit my Headbanger friends from the links in my sidebar and see what wonderful views of water they have found.


imac said...

Great shots Kathy, and enjoyed the info all about your area too, most interesting

This Is My Blog - fishing guy said...

Neat captures Kathy at the watery places, thanks for sharing.

Lew said...

Great pictoral description of the water problems and solutions of the western US! Love the beauty in your header!

Christine said...

Beautiful captures, Kathy, and a neat story about how you guys get water in your area.

Craver Vii said...

Impressive collection of water images. I also like the generous "sprinkling" of Scripture verses.

Liz Hinds said...

How strange to think of a place where you get so much snow being a desert. Great images.