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Author Topic: The Pipeline That Matters Most
scifibum
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OSC is saying we should pump water from Michigan to Moab, UT, so it can then run downhill to California (which needs more water).

quote:
The Michigan-Moab pipeline would have to raise the water it carries from about six hundred feet above sea level to four thousand feet -- and since it has to go through some pretty high mountains along the way, it will require some serious pumping.

But much of the pipeline is in territory that is ideal for solar and wind energy. With heavy use of the latest power-storage technology, there is no reason why the pipeline can't be designed to do its pumping without the use of any fossil fuels.

In fact, the system might well generate an energy surplus.

The cost would be trivial compared to such projects as the Interstate Highway System. Its environmental impact would be minimal. If there were a leak or a spill, the hideous substance poured out upon the land would be ... water.

It seems like a hideously expensive concept, to me. I haven't done any research or math, but I didn't get the sense that OSC did either. For the project to have any meaningful impact, it'd have to move as much water as a river, and elevating all that water to cross the Rockies would take an awful lot of energy.

My gut feeling is that large scale desalination on the west coast is probably much more feasible. Anybody know if this pipeline concept has been studied?

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scifibum
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Found an analysis that compares existing energy expenditures on various water sources for the Western Basin:

http://www.westbasin.org/files/general-pdfs/Energy--UCSB-energy-study.pdf

Ocean desalination is about 180% as costly (in energy input) as pumping water from the Colorado river: 3,687 kWh per acre-foot vs. 2044.

Since pumping over a much greater distance and elevation change is going to be much more expensive than existing pumping from the Colorado River, I think it's pretty safe to say that ocean desalination is a more attractive concept, even though it's far from cheap at the moment. However, desalination technology may improve and reduce energy costs.

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TomDavidson
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As someone who likes the Great Lakes, I would like to give a huge middle finger to asshats who choose to live in the desert but demand my water.
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scifibum
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I'm relatively sure we'd arrange to get you some avocados in return.
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D.W.
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Can't you just move to Michigan with us? We've got the room and could use the extra jobs. You don't have to live and create jobs out in the dry inhospitable places ya know.

Though I know our winters aren't for everyone's taste.

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emarkp
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It's a pretty goofy idea. Especially when much cheaper and more conventional solutions exist. Two of the dams here in CA were designed to have higher capacity but never were finished. Simply raising them would solve most of the CA problems. Not flushing millions of gallons out to sea for a drought-resistant non-endangered fish would help as well.
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AI Wessex
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quote:
Originally posted by D.W.:
Can't you just move to Michigan with us? We've got the room and could use the extra jobs. You don't have to live and create jobs out in the dry inhospitable places ya know.

Though I know our winters aren't for everyone's taste.

If they came and we allowed water exports we could sell more beach-front property and collect more tax revenues, too.
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Lyrhawn
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Luckily it's against Federal and international law at the moment thanks to the Great Lakes Water Compact or whatever its calls. Great Lakes water cannot be legally be pumped out of the watershed area. It's an agreement signed by all governors of Great Lakes states and Canadian provinces and approved by Congress.

But even if that wasn't the case, you'll get our water over my cold, dead, water-logged body.

Start putting some R&D into improving desalinization technology and build a couple solar farms to power it, you'll be fine. That makes way more sense than a ridiculous continent spanning water pipeline.

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ProfessorNarcolipse
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If it became necessary to pipe massive amounts of water from the great lakes to a hot dry climate, it would be more efficient to merely send it to Texas. Green Houses are easier to build in that region, what with the massive amount of resources we already devote to disposeable plastic bags and containers it should not be that difficult. For that matter, it would even be easier to build massive green houses in the midwest, if only to extend the growing season of some vegetables. this would require a large labor force for transplanting some vegetables from before the frost and afterwards, and this is generally not a vocation taught in high school.

Gary Nabhan has the right idea about the southwest.

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ClintonKing
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My dad is a civil engineer for the state of Utah's division of water resources, and all of the feasibility studies (this idea has apparently been kicking around since the 70s) he's seen (so he tells me) suggest that desalinization would be somewhere around half to a third of the cost of getting water from Lake Michigan to California (as speculated above).
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scifibum
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Good to know.
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Pete at Home
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quote:
Originally posted by D.W.:
Can't you just move to Michigan with us? We've got the room and could use the extra jobs. You don't have to live and create jobs out in the dry inhospitable places ya know.

Though I know our winters aren't for everyone's taste.

Nor are your laws. [Frown] Since George Romney stepped down, MI isn't a good place to do business.
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Greg Davidson
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I heard an episode of NPR's Fresh Air that actually attributed a huge share of water usage in California to the Gold Rush-era legislation about water rights. Essentially, farmers must use their entire allotment each year or they lose water for next year. This promoted intentionally inefficient water use in order to maintain legal claim on resources for the future. The solution would be to create a market where excess water rights could be trader/sold. The agricultural interests are terrified of losing the sweet deal that they have in the embedded water rights in their land holdings, so in California any discussion of changing water rights is a political third rail.
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