Nearly every time I write a newspaper story about water, and without fail every time I give a talk, I get a question about why we don’t just build a big canal from some wet place and bring the water here to the desert southwest.
It just seems so crazy to me – so over-the-top-engineering-costly-we-don’t-do-that-stuff-any-more crazy – that I don’t quite know how to explain why it’s not a practical idea. Can you say “NAWAPA“? But then there’s this, from one of the West’s leading water policy activators:
If innovative thinking is the key to solving Southern Nevada’s complex water puzzle, then Mulroy has a doozy of an idea. She suggests a massive public works project that not only could help relieve Colorado River Basin users but help solve the recurring problem of flooding in the Midwest.
“To me, it’s just counterintuitive,” she says. “One man’s flood-control project is another man’s water supply. You’ve got to remember that Hoover Dam was built as a flood-control project. That was its fundamental purpose: To prevent further flooding of the Imperial Valley down in Southern California.”
The idea is to build diversion dams for flood control and move the water to aquifers beneath the farmlands of Iowa, Nebraska, Kansas and Colorado. If Colorado farmers don’t have to use Colorado River Basin water for their crops, it makes more water available to downstream users, like us.
I mean, if Pat Mulroy thinks it’s worth trying, who am I to call the idea batshit crazy? (h/t Emily Green)