2011 - Enabling the Inevitable
The original NAWAPA proposal
Would Canada benefit from NAWAPA?
Canada would no doubt ask serious questions before it commits itself to the project. Under the northern NAWAPA plan it would host the largest reservoirs of the system. At the point just before Yukon River flows into Alaska, a 900 foot high dam (almost twice as high as the Great Pyramid in Egypt) is planned to be build across the Yukon River that would raise the water level to 2,100 feet and thereby force the river to flow backwards into the mountains and create the largest reservoir in the world. On the way south, a giant six gigawatt pump lift, powered by the equivalent of six large nuclear power plants, the water would be raised still higher, into a planned 500 mile long manmade lake, a reservoir 3,000 foot high, strung trough Rocky Mountain Trench that extends south all the way to the U.S. border.
Canada would receive 22% of the NAWAPA capacity of 160 million acre feet per year, giving the Canadian portion a flow rate 1,400 cubic meters per second (slightly more than double the average flow rate of the Saskatchewan River). The water is planned to feed into the Great Lakes system to flush out its pollution
The question would certainly be asked if this giant undertaking is really necessary since Canada's benefits would be rather slight, while its economic disadvantage might be substantial? One items of concern for Canada would no doubt be the quality of the water that would be conveyed across the country. Currently the Yukon River is so heavily polluted that it is rated as NOT drinkable. A portion of the pollution may have originated in Klondike gold rush region where gold has been mined for a hundred years with intensive use of mercury in the process. Since it is precisely this region that is planned to become a giant lake, as a reservoir of the NAWAPA system, Canada may not see it as a wise option to invite an undrinkable river to flow across its land and into the Great Lakes system. (The American receiving areas may have similar concerns.)
Canada would also have little interest in the northern NAWAPA orientation, as the implementation of it would cut off its vital transcontinental railway lines, by the 500 mile long Rocky Mountain Trench Reservoir that would require a long detour around it, and impose corresponding economic burdens on Canada for all future times.
Also, Canada might raise a concern for still different reasons. The long path of the NAWAPA diverted water across the mountainous landscape and through tunnels and so forth, might cause large quantities of different types of minerals become dissolved in the water that could have dangerous consequences, especially in toxic combinations. For this very reason a submerged pipeline system had once been proposed in the 1970s, as an alternative to the NAWAPA overland route, in order to prevent this mineralization problem from occurring. The NAWAPA plan appears to have been scrapped in the 1970s for such concerns, and possibly also for the lack of clean water at the source.
Today, with new technologies that enable long-distance transoceanic water conveyance to become possible, in which the diverted water is fully contained in pipelines, the thereby delivered water would not be subject to mineralization before it reached its destination. The built-in secure feature makes the transoceanic water conveyance so highly attractive that it will surely be built in the near future, wile the planned overland NAWAPA system does not have this advantage. It had been recognized back in the 1970s that the northern NAWAPA water, after its 2,000 mile journey over land, might not actually be usable at its destination. Canada might block the NAWAPA overland option for this reason. In so doing so, it wouldn't block the NAWAPA concept itself, but would instead enable the southern oriented NAWAPA option that would involve bringing water north from the great tropical rivers via the efficient long-distance transoceanic water conveyance principle. Canada would have a natural interest in southward oriented development, especially basalt-technology development that offers a very real potential to develop floating agriculture to be deployed in the tropical regions. With Canada being extremely vulnerable to having its agriculture disabled with the onset of the next Ice Age glaciation cycle, it would have a national interest in developing tropical agriculture and to participate in a southward oriented NAWAPA.
Canada would be an ideal partner to work together with the USA to develop the necessary basalt processing technologies to enable NAWAPA to become southward focused in a big way, and this not just to irrigate the American and Mexican deserts, but also to develop floating agriculture in the tropical oceans. Canada would greatly benefit from such a development, as would all the northern nations when their own agriculture becomes disable by the recurring Ice Age climate that is close at hand. While nobody is able to tell exactly how close the transition to the next glaciation climate will be, it is fairly certain that the northern nations become totally dependent then on alternative protected agriculture for which floating agriculture in the tropics is an attractive option until full-scale indoor agriculture becomes possible.
Canada would be a natural partner with the USA for the development of basalt based technologies that would enable floating agriculture. Canada has a strong history of being a technological leader. In addition, it has the second latest flood basalt deposits in the world. On this basis Canada may come to be the driving force to shape the face of NAWAPA into a southwards oriented mode, and thereby enable NAWAPA to reach its full potential to serve as a global model.
Published by Cygni Communications Ltd. North Vancouver, BC, Canada - (C) - public domain - Rolf A. F. Witzsche