In his recent feature, “Defeating Drought,” Eric Herman sought to provoke an important conversation about the future of water supplies in areas prone to shortages. As the reservoir levels continue to drop in the wester U.S., one builder offers his view on a path, or more accurately a pipeline, that he believes we should follow.
By Eric Herman
In our June 24th WS edition, I authored a piece about the drought. My intent was to raise awareness so that, hopefully as an industry that is centered on H2O, we might hit the ground running as we face restrictions that inevitably arise during droughts, and to face the broader issue of ensuring future water supplies to the many regions that are all-too frequently impacted.
I centered much of the discussion on turning to desalination as a possible solution. I did not run through many of the other possibilities. In response to the piece, builder Rick Chafey offered this compelling take on the subject with a focus on tapping into existing sources of freshwater.
I have brought this up to many in general discussions; We transport oil 10’s of 1000’s of miles across almost every continent. In the 60’s there was a massive, 2500-mile oil pipeline from Russia to Poland, and many adjoining countries (Friendship Pipeline). It is still operating today. Our construction equipment and abilities, today are light years ahead of where they were in the 60’s. With respect to water, we also have excellent sources of fresh water we watch flow into the oceans and do not capture.
For instance, the Mississippi discharges 500,000 CF/Second into the Gulf of Mexico on average. That is 8% of what the Amazon discharges into the Atlantic Ocean. The Columbia River discharges 265,000 CF/Second into the Pacific between Washington and Oregon. This happens all over the planet. So 1st and 3rd world countries have fresh water in spades. Is there not a reason we cannot transport this fresh water to where it is needed. Sure, it will require power to do so. There will be issues with transporting different microbes and bacterias etc. into different climates and locations. It will require easement and property and massive infrastructure. We found a way to move fuel, oil and supplies by pipeline, railroad and cargo ships. Is it unreasonable to think that we could do the same with water?
The numbers are staggering for sure with respect to how much water needs to be transported, but we can manage moving 65000 GPM through a 48-inch pipeline. It might well suit us to look at all options. to equate it to a swimming pool. We are currently in need of filling the pool (20-30000 gallons) which takes copious amounts of water through multiple hoses, but once full (mother nature will again provide), keeping the autofill running to keep the pool topped off, takes very little.
What do you think? Is this the way we should ensure our water security, or is it part of the solution?
Please feel free to share your thoughts.