Some fanciful solutions are just too good not to share.

With California in devastating drought and Chicago recently deluged, the clear win-win is for Chicago — fiscally strapped — to sell California water: fiscal problem AND drought solved.

And we could call it the Keystone Pipeline and create loads of jobs building it, instead of the other one, and if there were leaks or spills . . . who cares?  It’s just water!

Political impasse resolved!

Sounds nuts — is nuts — but they did reverse the flow of the Chicago River (did you know that?), so why is this any more fanciful?

Here‘s why:  Even from Alaska, which would make more sense than Chicago, it apparently makes little sense.  (My favorite line:  “Alaska is North, but not uphill.”)  You’d need pumping stations every 150 miles.  Something of this nature this was proposed 50 years ago at a cost then estimated to be $100 billion ($420 billion in today’s dollars).  Still, we may yet have to give it another look.

Janet Tavakoli:  “In Iran, pre-Islam engineers tunneled qanats through mountains to bring water to the desert:

. . . The qanat system consists of underground channels that convey water from aquifers in highlands to the surface at lower levels by gravity. The qanat works of Iran were built on a scale that rivaled the great aqueducts of the Roman Empire. Whereas the Roman aqueducts now are only a historical curiosity, the Iranian system is still in use after 3,000 years and has continually been expanded. There are some 22,000 qanat units in Iran, comprising more than 170,000 miles of underground channels. The system supplies 75 percent of all the water used in that country, providing water not only for irrigation but also for house-hold consumption. Until recently (before the building of the Karaj Dam) the million inhabitants of the city of Tehran depended on a qanat system tapping the foothills of the Elburz Mountains for their entire water supply.

“Water is everything,” Janet continues. “Without it, money means nothing.”

Bring on the solar desalinators!  I have no clue whether WaterFX will succeed, but I bet someone will.

“I would put my money on the sun and solar energy,” Thomas Edison told Henry Ford and Harvey Firestone in 1931 shortly before he died.  “What a source of power! I hope we don’t have to wait until oil and coal run out before we tackle that.”

And yet the real solution to California’s problem may be much simpler. Behold this CNBC commentary by Terry Tamminen, former secretary of the California Environmental Protection.  Instead of letting rain water run off into the Pacific, catch and store it for later use, as he explains and illustrates:

. . . About a decade ago, the blue-collar community of Sun Valley in Los Angeles County was faced with flooding that impacted homes and businesses during winter rains. The county had planned a $47 million storm sewer system to drain the flood waters from streets and dump it in the Pacific Ocean via the Los Angeles River (itself now a mostly concrete flood management canal). Instead, clever community planners decided to invest those funds in underground cisterns that would capture the water for later use.

A dilapidated city park was remodeled with cisterns below, as were medians along broad boulevards that were themselves underwater during heavy rains. The result was a system, using ancient Roman technology (see photo above), that captures 8,000 acre feet of water each year, about twice what the entire city consumes, solving the flooding problem and creating a source of fresh water for thousands of residents. The investment also gave the city a new park with ball fields and picnic grounds and higher adjacent property values.

But could something this simple be the solution for a thirsty state that is getting hotter, growing faster, and producing more food crops than ever before? . . .

The answer seems to be . . . yes.  Read on.  (Thanks, Brian!)






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