Saturday, May 19, 2012

NEWTAP - Revisiting Water for the West

The just-completed Orange County Water Summit, held in Anaheim, California, was quite interesting for a number of reasons.   As background, fresh water in California, and other dry Western states, is a critical issue due to scarcity.  Water in California is from several sources: Colorado River brought in by an aqueduct system, snowmelt from the Sierra Mountains, some groundwater via wells, and a tiny amount from sea water desalination plants.

Within California, excess water from the northern part of the state is pumped to the southern part.  A famous (or infamous) aqueduct also diverts river water from high in the southern Sierras into Los Angeles.

What intrigued me was the areas of focus by the conference organizers, and in particular, what they left out.  The focus areas included waste water recycling, reductions in water use, and desalination.   What was omitted is the large transfer of fresh water from the Missouri or Mississippi Rivers, via a new canal and pumping system.

I asked two or three people I met if they had heard of such a proposal, and none had.  I directed them to this blog and my article on NEWTAP, my proposal for a National Excess Water Transfer Aqueduct Project.  

Briefly, NEWTAP would transfer river water from the Missouri River at Kansas City to the continental divide in New Mexico, just south of Interstate Highway 40.  A new canal and pumps would transfer as much water as needed for the West.  From the continental divide, the water would gravity-flow into the Colorado River, and be stored in Lake Powell and Lake Mead.  When needed, the water would be released and generate power in the existing hydroelectric power plants.

Power for the canal's pumps could be provided by wind-turbines, since the canal would cross an area with excellent wind.

An improvement on NEWTAP would be branch canals, such as a canal to bring fresh water to West Texas.

California is contemplating a state water bond of approximately $10 to $15 billion dollars.  This is a stopgap measure at best, and will not solve the long-term problem of water.

It is time, I believe, for NEWTAP to be considered as a national construction project.   The Erie Canal was built in only 8 years, and was completed almost 200 years ago in 1825.   NEWTAP would be about twice the distance.

Roger E. Sowell, Esq.
Marina del Rey, California

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