Ghosts of NAWAPA

The Bureau of Reclamation is proposing a massive uphill diversion from the Missouri River to Denver. The Missouri River Reuse Project [pdf] would provide 600,000 Acre-Feet of water to the Front Range to as an alternative to desiccating the Upper Colorado even more.  This evokes the ghost of the continental engineering of North American Water and Power Alliance (1964) or towing icebergs from Alaska to provide water to Los Angeles.

Water Piped West to Denver Could Ease Stress on Colo. River -

“The idea of constructing conveyances to move water resources between other basins and the Colorado has been raised before and was once again submitted as an idea in this process,” Bureau of Reclamation public affairs chief Dan DuBray said in a statement. “Any proposal will be evaluated for feasibility, broad support and realistic funding potential before further consideration would be given.” – The Denver Post

Pumping 600,000 acre-feet up 4,440 feet requires a staggering amount of energy: 1.85 kWh (per acre-foot/feet elevation) x 4,440 feet x 600,000 = 4,928 gigawatt hour.  This is almost the same amount as Colorado’s total net electricity generation 5,176 gigawatt hour!!!! Digging deeper into the Bureau’s proposal, only 500 CFS (361,983 acre-feet/year) would be delivered to Colorado – so that still would take over half of all electricity from the state. The Bureau totally dodges this in their statement that ‘The amount of electrical energy required for operations would be substantial and needs to be determined based on consideration of reasonable design alternatives.’

In a year of record drought, when the Mississippi River is running so low that navigation is being impacted – a diversion of water at this scale faces a huge political and environmental battle. Water does flow uphill to money – so the question is, can Denver’s 2,599,504 folks compete with the shipping industry that moves $100 billion/year of goods or big-ag that ships 60% of all grain down the Mississippi? But then, the physics of the water-energy nexus may be the simplest obstacle.


NAWAPA from: Forest & Forest 2012

A fascinating study of proposed large-scale water projects in North America is:

Benjamin Forest & Patrick Forest ‘s ‘Engineering the North American waterscape: The high modernist mapping of continental water transfer projects’ Political Geography, Volume 31, Issue 3, March 2012, Pages 167–183 [link – may need a subscription to view]

Forest & Forest 2012’s Table 1. North American continental water transfer project proposals 1959–2009

Project Year Author(s) Nationality
GRAND Canal Concept 1959 Tom Kierans, Engineer Canadian
Great Lakes-Pacific Waterways Plan 1963 Decker Unknown
North American Water and Power Alliance (NAWAPA) 1964 The Ralph M. Parsons Company, Engineering Firm, California American
Canadian Water Export, Kuiper Plan 1966 Ed Kuiper Canadian
Magnum Plan 1966 Knut Magnusson Canadian
Stabilization of the Great Lakes 1966 Allan C. R. Albery, Engineer Canadian
Central North American Water Project (CeNAWP) 1967 E. Roy Tinney, Canadian, former professor at Washington State University, then Canadian civil servant Canadian
Western States Water Augmentation 1968 Lewis Gordy Smith, retired U.S.B.R. engineer American
Mexican-United States Hydroelectric Commission (MUSHEC) (expansion of NAWAPA plan) 1968 The Ralph M. Parsons Company, Engineering Firm, California American
North American Waters (NAWAMP) 1968 Tweed Unknown
Water for Survival 1968 John T. Tucker, retired engineer American
Alaska Subsea Pipeline 1991 Gov. Walter Hickel, Alaska American
Multinational Resources Proposal 1992 William Clancey (Multinational Water and Power, Inc) Canadian/Multinational
Klymchuk 2001 Daniel Klymchuk, policy analyst Canadian
Gingras 2009 F. Pierre Gingras, retired engineer Canadian

Spotted via Water Piped West to Denver Could Ease Stress on Colo. River – & the Denver Post


One response to “Ghosts of NAWAPA

  1. Pingback: Ghosts of NAWAPA | Infrascape Design·

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