In the West, Water’s for Fightin’. So’s Money.

July 21, 2022

Good update on the Great Salt Lake crisis in Utah above. The lake is drying up, and threatens to toxify the area. ABC does a better job of featuring the impact on wildlife than others I’ve seen.

They also mention to proposed solution of piping water across the mountains from the Pacific to replenish the lake, one of a growing list of “adaptations” to climate change that, obviously, all taxpayers across the country would have to kick in on. Other examples would be the proposed “Ike Dike”, a 30 billion dollar proposal for a series of locks and sea walls to protect South Texas from increasingly violent storms and a rising ocean.

In another part of the west, Palm Springs, where over 100 golf courses exist in a historic desert, there’s talk of pumping water from the midwest to prop up a profligate lifestyle, and it’s sparked a lively conversation in the local paper.

Palm Springs Desert Sun:

In response to the various letters on pumping water from the Mississippi River to the West:As an engineer, I believe a large pipeline from near the mouth of the Mississippi would be expensive, but sustainable. A month of average flow from the Mississippi would fill every empty reservoir on the Colorado River. 

A smaller and less expensive system would use the existing reservoirs and hydroelectric dams on the rivers that cross Midwest on their way to the Mississippi.  Install pumps at each reservoir that pump water up to the one above it. At the most upstream reservoir, pump it up over the Rockies to the Colorado River. This last leg would require the construction of a pipeline of 200 miles from eastern Colorado to western Colorado and an elevation change of only a few thousand feet.  

What is clear is that the West is dry, and we need solutions that ensure we will have the water we need not only in 2023, but in 2300. The current reservoir system has served the West for over 100 years, but the lack of planning and forethought for a sustainable future is obviously an error.  There are too many plausible solutions to endure mandatory conservation.

 David B. Clark, Las Vegas

Palm Springs Desert Sun:

I live in Red Wing, Minnesota. Recently I have noticed several letters to the editor in your publication that promoted taking water from the Mississippi River or the Great Lakes and diverting it to California via pipeline or aqueduct.

I will save you some time by informing you that it is not going to happen because the local citizenry here doesn’t want you to have that water. There are very, very many people living along the Mississippi River and around the Great Lakes that really, really don’t like California or Californians.

Californians should remember their own history, namely the Owens Valley water wars when valley farmers dynamited an aqueduct that was stealing their water and draining into the sewer that is Los Angeles.

We have plenty of dynamite in Minnesota. My advice to you is: Don’t Californicate the upper Midwest.

Paul Cofell, Red Wing, Minnesota 

Palm Springs Desert Sun:

I’ve seen different letters on the topic of getting Mississippi River water for westerners. Why don’t you get the water from the ocean? It’s a lot closer. I know they can convert water from salt to drinking water. By doing so, it would be a lot better since global warming is happening and oceans are rising — this may help the coastlines from flooding! If we send men to the moon, we can do this too.

I work on the Mississippi River on a boat that pushes barges up and down the river for exports and imports. The people that live all along this river and the rest of the country needs this river. Farmers need to get the harvest to export. If you pump the river, it wouldn’t last long, for all the barges that do the transporting could be halted. Then we would have another disaster on hand — a big one! 

I don’t know who comes up with these ideas, but they are crazy. Use the ocean water, convert it, and save the shores from global warming! 

Joey Peterson, Oquawka, Illinois

Regarding Friday’s letter from David Clark of Las Vegas:

The West is indeed dry and didn’t plan for it. The writer forgets one large thing: The water would need to be pumped over the Rockies. 

A set of desalination facilities along the California coast, or in the Gulf of California, and a system to pump the water along the path of least resistance would be a better long-term plan … along with stopping the expansion of unsustainable cities in the Southwest. 

Just as in the Southeast with hurricanes, the rest of the country shouldn’t have to drop everything to save a region that was built in a long-term unsustainable place.

Matt Crea, Maple Grove, Minnesota

California’s priorities need rethinking

We need desalination plants, not bullet trains. Californians, wake up!

Ed Levy, Indio

2 Responses to “In the West, Water’s for Fightin’. So’s Money.”

  1. rhymeswithgoalie Says:

    None of those wacky megaprojects should be contemplated before first fixing the broken water laws and misuse. Things to stop doing in the desert Southwest:
    – no growing food for livestock
    – no growing water-intensive crops
    – no putting up with Bundy-esque BS
    – no private open-air swimming pools in the desert
    – no watering of lawns in the desert
    – no building of new housing developments over the few remaining aquifers
    – super-steep tiered pricing of residential water

  2. ubrew12 Says:

    “A month of average flow from the Mississippi would fill every empty reservoir on the Colorado River. ” Lake Powell is 3652 ft above sea level. The Mississippi River discharges 600,000 ft2/s at New Orleans. The power required to pump this water up this incline would be 2600 MW over 6 years, or 0.6% of total U.S. electricity usage. Hopefully I didn’t get my Math wrong. Sounds doable. Big, expensive infrastructure project.


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