The Trans-Rocky-Mountain Aqueduct will save Lake Powell and Lake Mead, and rejuvenate the American South-west.

The American Southwest has always been subject to drought cycles, some worse than the one that is now devastating the area. Below is a very interesting presentation from ASU about a previous civilization in the Phoenix area, thriving and then gone. https://www.youtube.com/embed/II4Wb8SVxCE?version=3&rel=1&showsearch=0&showinfo=1&iv_load_policy=1&fs=1&hl=en&autohide=2&wmode=transparent Arizona State University presentation

Will it happen again?

The problem:

  1. Lake Powell and Lake Mead will be emptied in less than 10 years with the current usage pattern. Then what?
  2. The hydroelectric power from Lake Mead (and Lake Powell) is diminishing as the lakes are emptied.
  3. the aquifers are drawn down everywhere in the Southwest, but also the Ogallala Aquifer in Colorado and Kansas, and are at risk of being exhausted.
  4. The Colorado River water is too salty for good irrigation .
  5. The Colorado river no longer reaches the Gulf of California. Fishing and shrimp harvesting around the Colorado River Delta is no more.
  6. 40 million people depend on the Colorado River for drinking water. The population is still rising rapidly in the West. Will they have water in the future? Think 20 million future population growth in the next 40 years, people want to move there even with the current water problems.

The solution:

Build a Trans-Rocky-Mountain aqueduct from the Mississippi River to the San Juan River. In the first 391 miles the aqueduct joins the McClellan–Kerr Arkansas River Navigation System by adding the capability of pumping 7,500 cfs of water through 16 dams that service the locks. This will lead to reversing the flow of water during low flow. This also facilitates the navigation channel to be deepened from 9 feet to 12 feet to service fully loaded barges, a step authorized but not funded by Congress. The Arkansas river will then be capable of transporting 8 million acre-ft of water yearly through Arkansas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Colorado and New Mexico, supplying water from the Colorado river to Lake Powell. All that is needed to do in this stage is provide the dams and locks with a number of pumps and pump/generators to accommodate this, at a cost of less than 2 billion dollars. The next phase is pumping up water in the Arkansas river for 185 miles. To accommodate this there will be 17 small control dams built that are closed when normal pumping occurs and open during flood conditions. The cost for this segment, including pumps will be less than 3 billion dollars. The third segment is a 465 mile aqueduct to cross the Rocky Mountains much like the Central Arizona project but this aqueduct will carry three times more water 1.27 times the distance and raise the water four times higher. The original Central Arizona Project cost $4.7 billion in 1980’s money, the aqueduct part of the Trans-Rocky-Mountain aqueduct will cost around $50 Billion in 2021 money applying simple scaling up principles.

Power requirements for the 3 stages are 310 MW for the canal stage, 600MW for the river stage and 6.2 GW for the aqueduct stage. The aqueduct stage can be controlled by the power companies to shut off the pumps and provide 6.4 GW of virtual peak power for up to 5 hours a day on average, and each leg can be controlled individually since they are separated by large dams. There will be 64 one hundred MegaWatt LFTR (Liquid Fluoride salt Thorium Rector) power stations strategically stationed along the waterway providing pumping of water for 19 hours and providing virtual hydro-power output for on average 5 hours. There will also be 910 MW of power needed that is controlled by the river authorities.

The building cost of providing LFTR power should be around $2.50 per Watt of installed energy if a plant is built to manufacture via an assembly line a standardized version of 100 MW LFTR reactor core vessels assemblies capable of being transported on truck to the installation point. The total power cost should then be 16 billion dollars to build, and 5 cents per kWh or about 2.5 billion dollars a year to provide power.

The Mississippi River has a bad reputation for having polluted water, but since the clean water act the water quality has improved drastically. Fecal coli-form bacteria is down by a factor of more than 100, the water is now used all the way down to New Orleans for drinking water after treatment. The lead levels are down by a factor of 1000 or more since 1979. Plastic pollution and pharmaceutical pollution is still a problem, as is the case with most rivers. The Ph is back to around 8 and salt content is negligible. Mississippi water is good for irrigation, and usable for drinking water after treatment. The Arkansas River water quality is pretty good, good enough in Kaw Lake to be used for municipal water supply. Nitrates and phosphates are lower than in most Eastern rivers, Ph is around 8 and coli-bacteria low.

Most hydroelectric pumped storage was installed in the 70’s. Now natural gas plants provide most of the peak power. This aqueduct will add 6.4 GW to the U.S. pumped peak storage if virtual peak storage is included. By being pumped from surplus wind and solar energy as well as nuclear energy it is true “Green power”. Some people like that.

What follows is a description of each leg of the aqueduct. Legs 3, 4, 5 and 6 ends in a dam, which holds enough water to make each leg free to operate to best use of available electricity and provide peak power on demand.

Leg 1 of The Trans-Rocky-Mountain aqueduct. From the Mississippi river to Webbers Falls lock and dam, a distance of 366 miles

Leg 2 of The Trans-Rocky-Mountain aqueduct. From Webbers Falls to Keystone Dam, a distance of about 75 miles that is river and 25 miles, which is canal.

Leg 3 of the Trans-Rocky-Mountain aqueduct. From Keystone Dam to Kaw Dam.The Keystone Lake is 38 miles long and the river part is about 110 miles.

Leg 4 of the Trans-Rocky-Mountain aqueduct. From Kaw Lake to John Martin Reservoir, a distance of about 200 miles.

Leg 5 of the Trans-Rocky-Mountain aqueduct. From John Martin Reservoir to Trinidad Lake, a distance of about 120 miles.

Leg 6 of the Trans-Rocky-Mountain aqueduct. From Trinidad Lake to Abiquiu Reservoir, a distance of 90 miles.

Leg 7 of the Trans-Rocky-Mountain aqueduct. From the Abiquiu Reservoir to the San Juan River, a distance of 55 miles.

Leg 7 of the Trans-Rocky-Mountain aqueduct. From the Abiquiu Reservoir to the San Juan River.

Leg 7 of the Trans-Rocky-Mountain aqueduct. From the Abiquiu Reservoir to the San Juan River, a distance of 55 miles.

Elevation 6270′ Water storage 200,000 acre-ft, max. capacity 1,369,000 acre-ft.

After delivering some water to Rio Grande and other drop off points, the sixth leg has a capacity of 8500 cfs. It starts out at 6270′ and climbs to 7400′ over a distance of 25 miles. This requires a maximum power of (7400-6270 + 2x 25) = 1180′ times 8500 cfs. Assuming a pump efficiency of 92% this comes to a power of 900 MW. From the top it then descends to 5590′ over 30 miles. This will generate a power of (7400-5590 – 2x 30) = 1750′ times 8500 cfs. With generator efficiency of 92% this comes to 1,100 MW. This last leg will generate up to 200 MW power, thus reducing the total power need for the aqueduct.

Once joining the San Juan River there may be some levies put in to protect the people having built their homes in the flood plain. The river once was unregulated and subject to seasonal floods, and periods of very low flood, but once the San Juan Reservoir was built, the ecology of the river changed drastically. The addition of the aqueduct’s water would further stabilize the flow, but not add to the risk of seasonal floods.

The San Juan River would then add a maximum of 8,500 cfs. of water to the Colorado River, but especially during the summer months much water will be delivered en route to thirsty communities, such as Albuquerque and even Santa Fé, and some water will help the greening of the surroundings of the aqueduct and even save aquifers, especially the Ogallala aquifer, so the real average flow will be more like 5,000 cfs. This will translate to an additional yearly inflow of 3.6 million acre-feet into the Colorado River.

Leg 6 of the Trans-Rocky-Mountain aqueduct. From Trinidad Lake to Abiquiu Reservoir.

Leg 6 of the Trans-Rocky-Mountain aqueduct. From Trinidad Lake to Abiquiu Reservoir, a distance of 90 miles.

Lake Trinidad, elevation 6230′ Water storage 100,000 acre-ft

From Lake Trinidad the aqueduct will carry up to 10,000 cfs.

Elevation 6270′ Water storage 200,000 acre-ft, max. capacity 1,369,000 acre-ft.

The aqueduct will start at Lake Trinidad and follow the river up to Stonewall, where from an elevation of 8450′ it will tunnel under the Rocky Mountains for 7.5 miles and exit 3 miles s.e. of Chama.

From there it will be finding best way to the Rio Grande Canyon, where a dam with culverts for Rio Grande will be built at an elevation of 7490′. The canyon may or may not be a reservoir, dependent on the wishes of the local community. There will be a provision for supplying Rio Grande with some water during the growth season. On the West side of Rio Grande it will gently descend to 6000′, but with occasional rises of up to 100′ . Finally it will climb 270′ to Abiquiu Lake. There will be a provision to supply the river with water , especially during the dry summer. The total climbs for this leg is (8450 – 6230 + 150 + 270)’, plus the 2feet drop per mile times 25 miles. This comes to 2690′. The power required to pump 10,000 cfs 2690feet is 2.4 GW, assuming 92% pumping efficiency. Some of the power is regained on the downhill part, Total downhill is (8450 – 6000 + 100)’ = 2550′ minus the 2feet drop per mile times 65 miles. This comes to 2420′ Power regained from 10,000 cfs dropping 2420′ is 1.8 GW assuming 92% generating efficiency. The total power requirement for this leg is 600 MW. This can best be provided by having 6 100MW Liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactors, they are carbon neutral. The reason for small reactors is that they can be built in assembly line fashion and the core reactor can be shipped on a flatbed truck. The reactors will provide power to pump as much water as needed, but will stop pumping water when peak power is needed and start acting as a virtual hydro-storage. For this leg seepage and evaporation losses will be less than 2%.

Leg 5 of the Trans-Rocky-Mountain aqueduct. From John Martin Reservoir to Trinidad Lake.

Leg 5 of the Trans-Rocky-Mountain aqueduct. From John Martin Reservoir to Trinidad Lake, a distance of about 120 miles.

John Martin Reservoir Elevation 3852′ Water volume 340,000 acre-ft

The Trans-Rocky-Mountain Aqueduct will now leave the Arkansas river for good, and it has delivered water to thirsty Kansas, so from now on the total capacity of the Aqueduct will be 10,500 cfs.

Lake Trinidad, elevation 6230′ Water storage 100,000 acre-ft

The aqueduct will be built from the John Martin Reservoir to Trinidad Lke, gradually climbing from 3852 feet to 6230 feet altitude. Figure in a drop of 2 feet per mile to ensure optimum laminar flow and the total rise in the pumping stations will be (6230-3852+2×120 = 2618) feet. The maximum flow of water up the aqueduct will be 10,500 cfs. The total power required pumping this much water will be 2.5 GW. This can best be resolved by having 25 100MW Liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactors, they are carbon neutral. The reason for small reactors is that they can be built in assembly line fashion and the core reactor can be shipped on a flatbed truck. The reactors will provide power to pump as much water as needed, but will stop pumping water when peak power is needed and start acting as a virtual hydro-storage. For this leg seepage and evaporation losses will be less than 1%.

Leg 4 of the Trans-Rocky-Mountain aqueduct. From Kaw Lake to John Martin Reservoir.

Leg 4 of the Trans-Rocky-Mountain aqueduct: From Kaw Lake to John Martin Reservoir, a distance of about 200 miles.

Elevation 1010′ Volume 428,000 acre-ft

John Martin Reservoir Elevation 3852′ Water volume 340,000 acre-ft

Leg 4 goes over the Ogallala aquifer

The Arkansas River is by now a meandering creek where once was a huge meandering river. The farmers along the river saw the water decline year after year, and in 1902 they sued the farmers upstream. These lawsuits, Kansas v. Colorado are still continuing from time to time. In 1939 the John Martin dam was authorized, with the purpose of flood control. This made matters worse, since the aquifer no longer was refilled by the occasional floods, and the evaporation of the water in the dam diminished the flow overall. In one of the ensuing lawsuits, Kansas won, and was awarded a large sum of money. Kansas objected, they wanted the award in water, not money. This is the story of the thirsty West.

Here is the solution for thirsty Kansas. The Arkansas river is no longer usable, so the aqueduct will be built south of the river, from Kaw Lake to south of Dodge City to the John Martin Reservoir, gradually climbing from 1010 feet to 3852 feet altitude. Figure in a drop of 2 feet per mile to ensure optimum laminar flow and the total rise in the pumping stations will be (3852-1010+2×200 = 3242) feet. The maximum flow of water up the aqueduct will be 11,200 cfs. The total power required pumping this much water will be 3,3 GW. This can best be resolved by having 33 100MW Liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactors, they are carbon neutral. The reason for small reactors is that they can be built in assembly line fashion and the core reactor can be shipped on a flatbed truck. The reactors will provide power to pump as much water as needed, but will stop pumping water when peak power is needed and start acting as a virtual hydro-storage. There will be drop-off points on the way to provide water for thirsty municipalities. The price of the water for farmers will probably be too high, but towns and industries don’t mind to pay for always available water. For this leg seepage and evaporation losses will be less than 2%.

Methane, the strong greenhouse gas that doesn’t matter.

At the climate change conference in Scotland President Biden suggested to reduce the level of methane emissions 30% worldwide by 2030.

First, let us see where the sources of methane are:

First, let us see that one third of greenhouse gases come from natural causes. To achieve 30% worldwide reduction by 2030 we must reduce anthropogenic methane by 42.8%

The first source is from ruminants, that is animals that chew their cud. There are over 150 species of ruminants like goats, sheep, elk, moose, bison, gnu, yak, reindeer, deer, all kinds of antelopes and so on, but for now let us concentrate on domesticated cattle, something we can control. There are about 1 billion cattle in the world, see picture

We can, at great expense collect the methane from the dairy cattle.

The rest are beef cattle and we have to get rid of half the beef cattle to get anywhere with the reduction in Methane. Unfortunately this messes up the environment. Check this out: https://lenbilen.com/2013/03/19/beef-whats-for-climate-is-cattle-herding-the-missing-link-in-restoring-the-balance-of-nature/ The rest of the ruminants: How many sheep do we have to do away with? How many goats? How many caribous? How many buffaloes? The best we can do on reducing the ruminant farts is about 4% of methane emissions, and that is at great expense of the balance of nature.

The next challenge is rice paddies. About 18% of all methane emissions emanate from rice paddies. Thanks to rising CO2 levels they are now more productive, India had a record harvest this year. China had too many floods to have a record harvest. Rice is the staple food for over half the world’s population, so it is best to tread carefully on forced reductions. But there is hope: There is a patented GMO modified rice that has less roots and thus produce less methane. See https://lenbilen.com/2015/07/29/growing-gmo-modified-rice-eliminates-methane-pollution-an-inconvenient-truth-for-green-heads-a-limerick/ Unfortunately GMO modified food is banned in much of the world, and I doubt these attitudes can be changed before 2030, so no reduction in rice paddy methane production will occur, instead methane production from rice paddies will increase slowly with increasing CO2 levels.

Next comes biomass burning and fermentation. There are many possible solutions.Over 200 years ago North Korea began to have methane stoves at their farms. They put compost in a closed cistern and led the gases from it into the stove and had heat to cook and heat for the house. It is labor intensive, but can be implemented many places. But seriously, field burning is very bad for the environment. The year-to-year spring variation in Arctic black carbon (BC) aerosol abundance is strongly correlated with biomass burning in the mid-latitudes. Moreover, current models underestimate the contribution of BC from biomass burning by a factor of three. Check the scientific paper on the issue: https://wattsupwiththat.com/2021/11/05/black-carbon-aerosols-heating-arctic-large-contribution-from-mid-latitude-biomass-burning/ While arctic snow is increasing in fall and winter it melts earlier in the spring thanks to black carbon changing the albedo of the snow. We should attempt to reduce biomass burning by at least half and reduce worldwide methane emission by 5%. The trick is to change the habit of subsistence farmers and western arsonists and the carelessness of people setting all the wildfires in the American west.

Landfills produce methane. The gases should be captured whenever economically defensible. It is possible to recover this methane in maybe one third of the landfills, reducing worldwide methane by 3%.

Mining and burning coal produce methane. While U.S has reduced its coal production by half in the last twenty years China is set to increase its coal consumption until at least 2030. India and much of the developing world are dependent on coal and will increase their consumption. See figure:

So no matter what u.s. will do, methane from coal will increase by probably 2% worldwide, and that assumes better mining, storing and burning practices.

Lastly methane leaked from gas production can be reduced by capping used oil and gas wells, recovering seepages, in short being environmentally vigilant. Properly managed, maybe half can be reduced world wide. This would reduce Methane leaks by 4%.

Total savings worldwide by 2030 using the best assumptions are: Ruminants: 4%, Rice Paddies: 0%, Biomass: 5%, Landfills: 3%, Coal: -2%, Gas production: 4%; for a total of 14%, less than half of what President Biden promised at the Glasgow Climate conference, or less than a third if he meant total methane production.

I am a conservationist. I care about the earth, and I want to leave the world a better place. I am not the least worried about methane, even though I am well aware that it is a 25 times stronger greenhouse gas than CO2.

Here is the deal. There are methane sinks in nature that nearly offset the methane sources:

So we can see, the methane levels are in close balance. But the Methane levels are increasing:

And the methane level in the atmosphere will continue to increase for a while. Yet, I am not worried. Here is the kicker. Methane is the don’t care gas when it comes to global warming, or climate change if you prefer that term. Methane absorbs in the same light bands as water vapor, and this is where climate models fail. If water vapor absorbs 99% of the energy at a certain wavelength and Methane absorbs another 50% of the energy at the same wavelength the sum is not 149%, but 99.5%. You cannot absorb more than all energy available at a certain wavelength. With this in mind we can look at the absorption spectra for water vapor and methane.

In the upper plot the red represents the incoming radiation absorbed by the ground, the white area represents energy absorbed in the atmosphere. The blue area represents the total energy escaping the earth, the white under the curves represent energy absorbed by the atmosphere causing the greenhouse effect, the three curves represent three temperatures, from left to right 310K, 260K and 210K.

As we can see, water vapor absorbs nearly everywhere except in the region of visual light (thank God it is so, or we would be in eternal fog), and the so called atmospheric window. Methane absorbs in three wavelengths, the first two around 2 and 3 micrometers, but there water vapor absorbs nearly all energy in the atmosphere, and it is at a wavelength where solar influx is very low and earth radiance back to the sky is negligible, so they do not matter at all. The third wavelength, around 8 micrometers is where earth radiation is high, but even there water vapor is the dominant factor. Remember Methane concentration is less than 2 ppm and water vapor is counted in percent in the tropics, and even around the poles is the dominant absorbent. That is why I am saying, as a greenhouse gas, methane doesn’t matter.

Let us instead concentrate on things that do matter, deforestation, real pollution, and above all, clean and available water. Wind and solar uses up too many resources, and we will still depend on coal and natural gas to provide electricity when the sun doesn’t shine and the wind doesn’t blow, and our hydroelectric power storage is insufficient to accommodate much more of temporary energy sources. The only long time solution is to go nuclear, specifically LFTR until fusion energy is commercially viable.

Leg 3 of the Trans-Rocky-Mountain aqueduct. From Keystone Dam to Kaw Dam.

The third leg of the Trans-Rocky-Mountain takes us from from the Keystone dam

Lake level 723′ Lake storage 432,000 Acre-ft

to the Kaw dam

Elevation 1010′ normal 76′ drop

via pumping 11,200 cfs of water up the Arkansas river. The Keystone Lake is 38 miles long and the river part is about 110 miles.

The drop in the river is 211 feet and with a slope of the water of 0.4 feet/mile the total lift need to be 255 feet. This will be accomplished by deepening the Arkansas river channel by 20 feet and build ten 25,5 feet high dams that can open fully and let the water flow freely down the channel. The total capacity of the channel will then be 28,800 cfs. Under normal operation the dams will be closed and water will be pumped up the height of the dam, but when Kaw dam start generating power, the flow will be reversed and all pumps/generators will generate power. When the Kaw dam spillways open, all the dams will open, no power is generated. This will occur rarely, but the function is needed for flood control. The maximum power needed for this leg is 11,200 cfs water pumped up (1010′ -723′ + 110×0,4′) = 329 feet. Assuming pump efficiency of 92% maximum power requirement is 331 MW, best provided with LFTR nuclear reactors. The Kaw dam generates an average of 11.8 MW of power, but a project is under way to remove 1 million gallons/day for municipal water use, removing on average 210 kW generating capacity. Water use will only increase with time.

Leg 2 of The Trans-Rocky-Mountain aqueduct. From Webbers Falls to Keystone Dam.

The second leg of the Trans-Rocky-Mountain aqueduct start from Webbers Falls

Elevation 491′

to Keystone Dam, a distance of about 75 miles that is not canal and 25 miles, which is

Elevation 771′ streambed 550′ 2 turbines totaling 70 MW. Normal water level 727′

There is still barge traffic upstream from Webbers falls, so the water level is still controlled by the canal traffic controllers. This means that the volume of water pumped upstream must be subject to the same limitations that was valid for leg 1.

The Arkansas river flows through Tulsa, and in 2019 there was a substantial flood when the release from the Keystone dam peaked out at 310,000cfs after it had rained 22 feet in a short time. On the other hand, there are days with no release at all when the evaporation from the Keystone lake is larger than its inflow. The river flows right through Tulsa with beautiful park trails on top of the banks, and must be preserved and improved.

The proposal is this: Build 4 30′ dams with full opening gates so up to 250,000 cfs can be released. There will be a power house in each, containing two 5,600 cfs pumps/generators. Through Tulsa build three 10′ dams with the same capacity as the four lower dams. Lower the river bed all over by at least six feet to lessen the occurrence of floods. Since the barge canal separates from the Arkansas River before the first new dam on the Arkansas River there is now more liberty to adjust the pumping to meet the electricity needs and momentarily shut off the pumping when energy needs spike.

The water level above the Keystone dam will be kept at conservation pool level of 727′. If heavy rains are anticipated the water level will be allowed to go below conservation pool level. Conversely, when drought periods are expected, the water level is increased in anticipation. This will make the lake more desirable for recreational purposes to have a stable water level at all times, increasing and decreasing much less over time and with only a moderate daily fluctuation.

The Keystone dam power station generating plant will be retrofitted with dual generator/pumps or pumps will be added to be able to lift 11,200 cfs of water into the dam.

The average flow in the river, excluding flood condition is approximately 4,000 cfs. The pump capacity is 11,200 cfs, the total lift is 236 feet, the level drop is assumed to be 0.4 feet/mile for the 75 miles of aqueduct/river, and a pump efficiency of 92% is assumed.

The total power requirement using these parameters would then be 267 MW. When flow is reversed, it can provide up to 218 MW of peak power. There will be 267 MW of LFTR nuclear power available when it is not pumping up water, so for a short time every day it can provide 485 MW of peak power. The loss of power from the Keystone dam current average release will be about 50 MW on average.

Below is a picture of the Arkansas River with sandbanks. It will have a number of small lakes with about 10 feet of water depth, mostly flowing up river, but gently flowing down river during peak power demand.

Leg 1 of The Trans-Rocky-Mountain aqueduct. From the Mississippi river to Webbers Falls lock and dam.

The Trans-Rocky-Mountain aqueduct starts out at the Mississippi river, and for the first leg follows the Arkansas River from Mississippi River to Lock16 of the Arkansas River, a distance of 366 miles.

Location of the locks and pumping stations on the Arkansas river.

Lock 1, entrance from the Mississippi River to the White river. The water surface at Montgomery Point has fluctuated from elevation 104′ to 172′.

This lock was added later to better accommodate barge traffic when the Mississippi River was running abnormally low. If the Mississippi is normal to high level, this lock is bypassed. Since we are going to move 11,200 cfs of water over the rocky mountain the flow amount in Arkansas river will be reduced by the same amount. In times of drought, the Arkansas River flow is sometimes lower than 11,200 cfs. To alleviate that, a series of 7,500 cfs pumps will be installed, one in every lock of the canal, beginning with Lock 1. They will be in use only as needed, probably less than 10% of the time.

Montgomery Point Lock and Dam features “first of its kind” hydraulically operated gates. When the tail water is at elevation 115′ and rising, the dam gates are flat on the bottom of the river and barge traffic passes over the gates in the navigation pass spillway to minimize lockages saving time and money.

n

Elevation 142′ Add one 7,500 cps pump
Elevation 162′ Add one 7,500 cps pump

Elevation 182′
Elevation 1196′
Elevation 213′
Elevation 231′
Elevation 249
Elevation 265′
Elevation 284′
Elevation 336′
Elevation 370′
Elevation 391′
Elevation 412′
Elevation 458′
Elevation 487′

From Lock # 3 to lock # 16 (13 locks # 11 is missing) the Power houses have to either replace one of the operating turbines to a corresponding dual function pump/generator, or add a 7,500 cfs pump.

By removing 11,200 cfs from the flow of water in the Arkansas river, it will be necessary to add these pumps to ensure functioning locks even in times of extreme droughts. The total power generated by the power stations will be reduced by 11,200 cfs times (487 – 127) feet * 0.9 or about 370 megawatts total if there is no water released by the spillways. This is the maximum power loss. If the river flow more than about 55,000 cfs there less loss of power, tapering off , so at 67,000 cfs there is no loss of power.

As a side note, every lock opening uses up water equivalent of between 22 and 66 kWh depending on the size of the lift or lowering of the barges. This is constant and not dependent on the size of the barges or boats. When the spillways are in use, the water is “free”, but otherwise every lock opening costs a few dollars in energy, not much, but in case of a drought the fact that water is pumped back up the river will help increase the capacity.

What is in it for Arkansas? The added pumps will give an additional tool to control the canal system. In addition, in the case of floods it will somewhat alleviate the flood control, and serve the canal system better in times of drought. To add 370 megawatts to the system, may I suggest 2 200 MW LFTR nuclear reactors, they are carbon neutral.

The ultimate infrastructure project: A Transcontinental aqueduct to save the American Southwest from becoming a desert.

The American Southwest has always been subject to drought cycles, some worse than the one that is now devastating the area. Below is a very interesting presentation from ASU about a previous civilization in the Phoenix area, thriving and then gone.

Arizona State University presentation

Will it happen again?

The problem:

  1. Lake Mead will be emptied in less than 10 years with the current usage pattern. Then what?
  2. The hydroelectric power from Lake Mead (and Lake Powell) is diminishing as the lakes are emptied.
  3. the aquifers in Arizona, especially in the Phoenix and Tucson area, and to some extent New Mexico and the dry part of Texas are being drawn down and are at risk of being exhausted.
  4. The Salton Sea in the Imperial Valley of California is maybe the most polluted lake in all of U.S.A. It is even dangerous to breathe the air around it sometimes. The area contains maybe the largest Lithium deposit in the world.
  5. The Colorado River water is too salty for good irrigation .
  6. The Colorado river no longer reaches the Gulf of California. Fishing and shrimp harvesting around the Colorado River Delta is no more.
  7. 40 million people depend on the Colorado River for drinking water. The population is still rising rapidly in the West. Will they have water in the future?
  8. Except for California there is not much pumped Hydro-power storage in the American Southwest.
  9. Texas has plenty of wind power, but no pumped hydro-power storage. This makes it difficult to provide peak power when the sun doesn’t shine and the wind doesn’t blow. Nuclear power is of no help, it provides base power only. Peak power has to come from coal and natural gas plants.
  10. New Mexico has some ideal spots for solar panels, but no water is available for pumped storage.
  11. Arizona has a surging population, wind and solar power locations are abundant, but no pumped hydro-power storage.

The solution:

Build a transcontinental aqueduct from the Mississippi River to the Colorado River capable of transporting 15 million acre-ft of water yearly through Louisiana, Texas, New Mexico and Arizona. It will be built similar to the Central Arizona Project aqueduct, supplying water from the Colorado river to the Phoenix and Tucson area, but this aqueduct will be carrying seven times more water over five times the distance and raise the water more than twice as high before returning to near sea level. The original Central Arizona Project cost $4.7 billion in 1980’s money, the Transcontinental Aqueduct will cost around $340 Billion in 2021 money applying simple scaling up principles.

The Mississippi River has a bad reputation for having polluted water, but since the clean water act the water quality has improved drastically. Fecal coli-form bacteria is down by a factor of more than 100, the water is now used all the way down to New Orleans for drinking water after treatment. The lead levels are down by a factor of 1000 or more since 1979. Plastic pollution and pharmaceutical pollution is still a problem, as is the case with most rivers. The Ph is back to around 8 and salt content is negligible. Mississippi water is good for irrigation, and usable for drinking water after treatment.

But the aqueduct will do more than provide sweet Mississippi water to the thirsty South-west, it will make possible to provide peak power to Texas, New Mexico and Arizona. In fact, it is so big it will nearly triple the pumped Hydro-power storage for the nation, from 23 GW for 5 hours a day to up to 66 GW.

The extra pumped hydro-power storage will come from a number of dams built as part of the aqueduct or very adjacent to it. The water will be pumped from surplus wind and solar power generators when available. This will provide up to 20 GW of power for 5 hours a day. If not enough extra power has been generated during the 19 pumping hours, sometimes power will be purchased from the regular grid. The other source of pumped hydro-power storage is virtual. There will be more than 230 MW LFTR (Liquid Fluoride salt Thorium Rector) power stations strategically stationed along the waterway providing pumping of water for 19 hours and providing virtual hydro-power output.

These 43 GW of hydro-power capacity will be as follows: Louisiana, 0.4 GW; Texas, 18,5 GW (right now, Texas has no hydro-power storage, but plenty of wind power); New Mexico, 10.5 GW; Arizona 13.6 GW. In Addition, when the Transcontinental Aqueduct is fully built out, the Hoover dam can provide a true 2.2 GW hydro-power storage by pumping water back from Lake Mojave; a 3 billion dollar existing proposal is waiting to be realized once Lake Mead is saved.

The amount of installed hydroelectric power storage is:

U.S. operating hydroelectric pumped storage capacity

Most hydroelectric pumped storage was installed in the 70’s. Now natural gas plants provide most of the peak power. This aqueduct will double, triple the U.S. pumped peak storage if virtual peak storage is included. By being pumped from surplus wind and solar energy as well as nuclear energy it is true “Green power”. Some people like that.

What follows is a description of each leg of the aqueduct. Each leg except legs 9 and 10 ends in a dam, which holds enough water to make each leg free to operate to best use of available electricity and provide peak power on demand.

Leg 1: Atchafalaya river (Mississippi river bypass) to Aquilla lake, a distance of 360 miles.

Leg 2: Aquilla lake to Brad reservoir (to be built), a distance of 100 miles.

Leg 3: Brad reservoir to North of Baird dams. (to be constructed), a distance of 60 miles

Leg 4: North of Baird dams (to be constructed) to East of Sweetwater dam (to be built), a distance of 60 miles.

Leg 5: East of Sweetwater dam (to be constructed) to Grassland Canyon Lake (to be made), a distance of 50 miles.

Leg 6: Grassland Canyon Lake (to be made) to White Oaks Canyon Lake (to be made), a distance of 110 miles.

Leg 7: White Oaks Canyon Lake (to be made) to the Arch Lewis Canyon Lake via a 20 mile tunnel under the Guadaloupe Mountains in New Mexico.

Leg 8: Arch Lewis Canyon Lake to Martin Tank Lake, a distance of 50 miles.

Leg 9: Martin Tank Lake to Poppy Canyon Reservoir, a distance of 210 miles.

Leg 10: The Poppy Canyon Upper and Lower Reservoir. A Hydro-power storage peak power plant.

Leg 10, alternate solution: Poppy Canyon Reservoir to Cove Tank Reservoir, a distance of 13 miles.

Leg 11: Poppy Canyon Reservoir to San Carlos Lake, a distance of 80 miles.

Leg 12: San Carlos Lake to the Colorado river following the Gila river, a distance of 280 miles.