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Augmenting Dwindling Water Supplies?

Towing Icebergs to San Pedro

by JOHN WEISHEIT

Not satisfied that the entire contents of the Colorado River sloshes inside the bloated bellies of the seven basin states, this monster is now searching for water beyond their horizons. They call it river augmentation, or the mechanical harvesting of water to artificially enhance their ever-dwindling supplies at home, as represented by the two largest reservoirs in the United States going empty.

They intend to convert water that is not pristine and make it potable through reverse-osmosis, pump river water from faraway places up and over the Great Divide, sprinkle clouds with silver iodine crystals so moisture will condense in the Colorado River watershed instead of the Mississippi watershed, and tow Arctic icebergs to southern California harbors.

To accomplish this they have determined that it is okay to consume more limited resources like fossil fuels and uranium, and pollute our atmosphere and expose us to radiation, so that electricity can provide what God has forsaken.

The water purveyors finished their mission decades ago to make the land productive, but they just can’t stop and leave well enough alone. Commissioned with $750,000 from the Southern Nevada Water Authority and steered by the monster itself, two self-serving engineering firms, CH2MHILL & Black & Veatch, have produced an imaginative playbook called “Study of Long-Term Augmentation Options for the Water Supply of the Colorado River System.”

Its bad enough that this breed of engineers have designed dams and reservoirs that will be rendered useless by sediment fill or old age, whichever comes first, but now they are going to double stack the paradigm with more expensive infrastructure that is just as vulnerable.

As author Donald Worster of “Rivers of Empire” said in 1985, “Democracy cannot survive where technical expertise, accumulated capital, or their combination is allowed to take command.”

Surely the public must realize if the monster gets its way, a third stack of infrastructure will soon follow. Is this really what you want? Did they even ask you? Are you aware how much this is going to cost?

Missing from this devouring document are things everyday people like me want: wet river beds, national parks that function, steady-state planning, cradle-to-grave economic planning, conservation to build a water reserve instead of debilitating congestion, growing crops for reasons other than maintaining a water right, and energy conservation and efficiency that brightens our air, water and future.

Click here to read “The One-Dam Solution”

Click here to read National Research Council’s report on Colorado River water supplies

Click here to read National Research Council’s new report on desalination.

JOHN WEISHEIT, the Colorado Riverkeeper, is director of Living Rivers. He can be reached at: john@livingrivers.org

This article originally appeared in On the Colorado.