And now it begins. Southern California denies thousands of farmers their water rights or access to water.

The western half of United States is experiencing a multi-year drought with no end in sight. Has the desertification of the American southwest started? Will farmers have to abandon their farms and orchards for lack of water? Will this and the shortage of fertilizer be the trigger point for a worldwide hunger, since now Ukraine is no longer the food basket of Europe?

These are worrying questions? The situation in the American South is dire:

The only saving grace is that thanks to increasing CO2, the vegetation needs less water to do the photosynthesis, so the harvests will not decrease as much even though fertilizer will be rationed.

Southern California was first to cut off water to thousands pf farmers:

The next step is to forbid watering of lawns and plants and fine people for violating HOA regulations that state that that lawns must be well fertilized and watered and free from weeds. The native weeds (I call them wildflowers) are the only thing that will survive the drought.

But back to the drought situation.

The solution:

Build a transcontinental aqueduct from the Mississippi River to the Colorado River capable of transporting 12 million acre-ft of water yearly through Arkansas, Oklahoma, 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 four times more water over four times the distance and raise the water nearly 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 in Phase 1 cost around $200 Billion in 2022 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. The Arkansas River is used as a drinking water source.

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 when fully built out.

The extra pumped hydro-power storage will come from a number of dams built as part of the aqueduct or adjacent to it. The water will be pumped from surplus wind and solar power generators when available. This will provide up to 50 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 up to 23 GW of 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 the remaining 5, when the aqueduct is fully built. Read more about it here.

Lake Mead and Lake Powell are emptying fast. The solution: The Trans-Rocky-Mountain Aqueduct. Expensive, but very doable.

(Quoted partly from Joanna Allhands, Arizona Republic.) The seven Colorado River basin states have a plan to temporarily stabilize Lake Powell. The states are: Wyoming, Colorado, Utah, Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico and California.

It is a temporary delay of a very painful decision, it doesn’t rain enough in the Colorado River basin to provide enough water for the ever increasing population, now exceeding 40 million, five times more as when the Hoover dam was built.

Yet no one balked. And that’s a win.

That should signal how dire the circumstances have become.

The U.S. Department of the Interior noted in an April 8 letter to the basin states that Lake Powell is dangerously close to hitting 3,490 feet of elevation, a level so low that power could no longer be generated at Glen Canyon Dam and water could no longer flow to the nearby city of Page and an adjacent Navajo Nation community.

Because water could no longer flow through the power turbines, millions of acre-feet of water would flow downstream through smaller backup pipes at the base of Glen Canyon Dam – a risky prospect that could spell calamity for Lake Mead, which relies on Powell’s releases, if any one of those four pipes were damaged by the heavy flows and had to shut down.

nterior proposed taking the unprecedented action of withholding 480,000 acre-feet (that’s more than 156 billion gallons) in Lake Powell that otherwise should have flowed to Lake Mead, among other measures.

Two weeks later, the seven states responded with a singular voice: We get how dire this is, and we’re on board.

“We recognize the urgency created by current conditions in the Basin; in fact, hydrologic conditions in the Basin have continued to decline since your April 8, 2022, letter to the Governors’ representatives,” they wrote in an April 22 response. “It is our collective judgment that additional cooperative actions should be taken this spring to reduce the risk of Lake Powell declining below critical elevations.”

That means the upper basin states will agree to release 500,000 acre-feet from the upstream Flaming Gorge Reservoir, as part of a newly cemented 2022 Drought Response Operations Plan. (That’s a lot more than the 161,000 acre-feet that was released from upstream reservoirs last year to prop up Lake Powell.)

Meanwhile, the lower basin states, including Arizona, will agree to keep 480,000 acre-feet in Powell, though the states have asked for that amount not to count against shortage determinations.

What does that mean for shortages at Lake Mead?

The idea, however ill-conceived, is not to use Mead’s actual elevation to determine which shortage tier we’d be in, but rather as if that 480,000 acre-feet were in Mead and not Powell.

It’s not clear how the federal Bureau of Reclamation, which operates the reservoirs, would make that calculation, but the outcome could have real consequences.

The most recent forecast projects elevations as if that 480,000 acre-feet had flowed from Powell to Mead. It puts Mead a few inches above the trigger elevation of 1,045 feet in August, when the following year’s shortage determination is made.

That would put us in a deeper Tier 2 shortage, regardless.

But depending on which side of 1,045 feet we land, we could either fall in a Tier 2a or Tier 2b shortage – which for Arizona is the difference between making previously agreed cuts of 592,000 acre-feet or 640,000 acre-feet.

A Tier 2b shortage also would trigger more stringent water conservation actions in Scottsdale and Tucson. That could mean the imposition of drought surcharges in both cities and, in Scottsdale, the potential for mandatory restrictions.

I know. If we base shortage decisions off where the lake should be, but not really is, we’re making conditions look better than they are. Which doesn’t help us in the long run, even if we could temporarily avoid the pain of Tier 2b.

We extinguished a fire to focus on other work

But, importantly, the states also have agreed that “water year 2023 releases should be carefully monitored and be the subject of consultation with the Basin States to preserve the benefits to Glen Canyon Dam … .”

Translation: Whatever actions we take and shortage levels we set for 2023 will get another look, likely in late winter or early spring, when we have a better idea of the year’s runoff picture, to determine whether we need to do more.

It’s a level of flexibility that we haven’t traditionally had – but will likely need – when lake levels are so low and volatile.

None of this solves anything, of course. Even a combined million acre-feet from the states will likely just prolong the inevitable, hopefully long enough to better assess the strength of Powell’s backup pipes.

And to resume the tough work of storing an extra 500,000 acre-feet each year for the next five years in Lake Mead as part of the 500-plus plan. Without that extra water each year, the lake mostly likely will sink below 1,020 feet of elevation – Mead’s version of the dangerously low level that Powell has already reached.

And – most importantly – to finally sit down and talk about longer-term solutions for the Colorado River, most notably how much water we can reliably expect it to produce. It sure as heck isn’t the 15 million acre-feet that we’ve been apportioned.

Imperfect as this response may be, it’s significant that all seven states agreed to it quickly, so we can get back to the many other pressing tasks at hand.

Reach Allhands at joanna.allhands@arizonarepublic.com. On Twitter: @joannaallhands.

There is a solution:

The Trans-Rocky-Mountain Aqueduct will save Lake Powell and Lake Mead, and rejuvenate the American South-west. This solution is expensive, but when all costs are included, it can deliver 3.6 to 6 Million acre-feet / year at a cost of $2,290 per af, high, check the calculations here. This is the solution that can be done in the shortest time.

The other solution is The TransContinental Aqueduct. A realistic way to save Lake Mead and reverse the desertification of the American SouthWest. It will really do the job at a lower price per Acre-ft but require much more capital investment. Check out the cost estimates here. This estimate is on the high side. but was a earnest stab at the costs.

Is it worth it to save the American Southwest from being desertified? In my opinion, if we are serious about saving the earth, this is one of the most urgent projects that deserves consideration.

The Trans-Rocky-Mountain Aqueduct; Cost estimates. Will it pay for itself?

To begin cost estimates, the model used is the cost for the Arizona central project. The waterway was constructed 1974 to 1993 at a cost of 4.7 billion dollars. In 2022 dollars that would be about 13.5 billion. The cost for the canal would be about 12.6 billion and 900 million for the pumping stations. The average size of the aqueduct in its beginning is 80 feet across the top and 24 feet across the bottom and the water is 16.5 feet deep. The concrete is 3.5 inches thick and, in some areas, it is reinforced with steel rebars. It is 336 miles long from Lake Havasu City to Tucson with a total lift of over 2,900 feet. The capacity starts out at over 2.2 million acre-ft per year, diminishing as the drop-off point occurs, and the total pumping of 1.4 million acre feet of water is lifted by up to 2,900 feet by 14 pumping stations using 2,500 GWh of electricity each year. The pumping stations have a total pumping capacity of 240 MW. It has a 7 mile long, 22 feet diameter tunnel from Lake Havasu to the beginning of the waterway.

The Trans-Rocky-Mountain aqueduct is much bigger: The The average size of the aqueduct in its beginning is 160 feet across the top and 80 feet across the bottom and the water is 35 feet deep. The concrete is 4 inches thick and, in most areas, it is reinforced with steel rebars. The concrete used is 4,500 cu yd per mile. It will cost about 2.5 times as much per mile as the ACP, so the total cost for the Trans-Rocky-Mountain Aqueduct will be ((12.6x 2.5 : 336) x 480) = 45 billion dollars. Like the CAP, it will have an 8 mile tunnel, and its diameter will be 48 feet. This cost estimate is probably high, since eminent domain costs will be minimal; all the dams already exist and are paid for, the Arkansas river is there, complete with dams; and land for all the reservoirs are already litigated and settled. The canal will go through sparsely inhabited land.

The cost of building 17 additional small dams in the Arkansas River will be on the order of $120 million per dam, for a total of $2 Billion.

There will be a total of 7.4 GW of pumped energy needed and 200 MW of base power generated. To get the aqueduct operational at 6 MAF/year it requires 7.4 GW of energy. Pumping cost capital is about $ 1.30 per watt, so the minimum pumping capital cost is 9.6 Billion dollars.

The Liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactors proposed is 100 MW units. so called Small Modular Reactors (SMR) The reactor core assemblies are small enough so they can be produced on an assembly line and delivered via truck. There are 3 assemblies needed, the reactor, the safe shutdown unit and the reprocessing and separation unit. The whole building can be built for $ 230 million. To complete the installation costs, add another # 30 million per unit. The aqueduct needs 74 units. The initial capital cost for grid access and minimum flow is $19 billion.

To sum it up,the capital cost for a flow of 6 MAF is (45 +2 + 9.6 + 19) = 75.6 billion dollars. The amount of water in the aqueduct when filled is 230,000 acre-feet and will take 1.1 TWh of electricity to fill, or about $35,000dollars at 3 c/kWh base rate.

When the electricity demand requires peak power, the pumps are turned off, and electricity will be sold back to the grid, at peak rate.

Solar power and wind power will also power the pumps, and they will lessen the demand for nuclear reactors. But the remaining reactors will still be needed, or peak power will still have to be supplied by natural gas, or coal when the sun doesn’t shine and the wind doesn’t blow.

In short: assuming a 50 year amortization plan for the aqueduct, and money available at 2%, , it will cost 3 billion a year in capital cost to deliver 6 MAF water from the Mississippi River to Lake Powell or any point in between, or $2,000 per acre-ft. Add to that $240 for electricity and another $50 per acre-ft in overhead and maintenance, the cost will be $2,290 per acre-ft.

The Rocky Mountains places are ideal for wind and solar power, but they need to store the energy when the sun is not up or doesn’t shine, or the wind doesn’t blow. Right now that is provided by coal and natural gas. Conventional nuclear power is best for use as base power only, so this Trans-Rocky-Mountain aqueduct will provide up to 7.4 GW of pure virtual pumped power storage, the LFTR nuclear power plants will provide the energy by shutting off the pumping of water in the aqueduct when the need arises, and instead provide another up to 7.4 GW of virtual pumped storage power. The beauty of this is that the pump response is instantaneous, so the grid can be really finetuned to meet the exact power needs.

As pandemic plagues go, Covid-19 was but a blip, seen from history.

Ring around the roses. pocket full of poses, ashes ashes. Everybody fall down.

When my Wife and I immigrated to America from Sweden and Denmark in the late 60’s we noticed that the girls seemed to sing and play “ring around the roses” everywhere. Being curious I asked them what it meant, but of course nobody knew, they just liked to sing it. Those were innocent times.

How was this pandemic compared to earlier times?

The song refers to the black plague, happening in the mid 14th century A.D., when around 30 percent of the Swedish population died. It was so bad that some villages died out completely, and I know of one such village that did not get resettled until the end of the Little Ice Age. The movie “The Seventh Seal”, one of the best movies of all time has a scene where an exhausted knight plays chess with Death, and is convinced he is winning, upon which Death simply explains “I cheat”.

So, is there cheating going on with the statistics?

It so happens that Sweden, which used to include Finland, and Denmark, which used to include Norway and Iceland, have nearly complete church record since the reformation, and in many cases even since Catholic times. Everybody belonged to the church, and the pastors were very jealous that no one was missed, they were concerned for the soul of everyone in the congregation, and as a side note, that was how they collected taxes. Here a historical view of the the pandemic statistics for Sweden.

So, how did the world react to this statistical blip?

Most countries reacted with a lockdown of one form or another, Sweden alone decided to stick it out, keep production and transport as usual, only limit large gatherings. The result seemed horrendous at first. Then President Trump tweeted this:

Notice the date. The pandemic had barely started.

What President Trump did was to let the States decide how to implement the lockdown, if at all. Most states did a lockdown, Florida decided to protect the vulnerable and elderly first, New York, Michigan, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and California decided to send elderly Covid patients to their nursing homes and South Dakota did not do a lockdown. After all, health care is a State matter according to the 10th amendment.

We now have the statistics from 5 countries and 7 States:

Sweden, no lockdown: Cases per million: 244,634. Deaths per million 1,827

The other four Nordic countries had lockdowns:

Denmark: Cases per million: 507,644. Deaths per million 1,042

Norway: Cases per million: 258,878. Deaths per million 522

Finland: Cases per million: 180,063. Deaths per million 655

Iceland: Cases per million: 532,895. Deaths per million 324

While not technically an independent country, but still Nordic:

Faroe Islands: Cases per million: 704,460. Deaths per million 569

And now for the seven States:

South Dakota, no lockdown: Cases per million: 268,505. Deaths per million 3,279 Florida, limited lockdown: Cases per million: 276,713. Deaths per million 3,437

And now the 5 states that sent COVID patients to nursing homes:

Pennsylvania: Cases per million: 219,096. Deaths per million 3,483 California: Cases per million: 232,625. Deaths per million 2,281 New York: Cases per million: 270,904. Deaths per million 3,533 Michigan: Cases per million: 241,464. Deaths per million 3,598 New Jersey: Cases per million: 252,269. Deaths per million 3,757

The conclusion I can draw from this is that the COVID pandemic will run its course until herd immunity is achieved. Sweden has achieved it, and the other Nordic countries probably have too. As for U.S.A., it seems that it really doesn’t matter much how it was fought, except in the states with the strictest lockdown the children, especially the disadvantaged, lost two years of education, which cannot be regained.

Is there a better way? Look at the experiences of sub-Saharan Africa and the rest of the world here

Earth day 2022. It’s all about water in the thirsty American Southwest.

It’s time for the annual earth day

to celebrate Lenin’s old birthday.

Let us plant some more trees

bring the water, yes please.

A Trans-Rocky-Mountain waterway.

The American Southwest is beginning to become desertified. More water is used up than falls in the Colorado River. All water and more is spoken for. The Gila River used to provide about 1.3 Million acre-feet yearly to Arizona. It is now all used up, and the aquifers are being depleted. Since 40 million people are dependent on the Colorado River and the Gila river and the population is rapidly growing the only real solution is to bring in more water to the American South-west. It will be expensive and require a lot of power, but the alternative is a depopulation of the American South-west. Something like it did already happen when the rivers Amu Darya and Sur Darya became used for irrigation and the Aral Lake dried up, the rains ended and the land east of the lake became more or less a desert.

Here are two proposals to save the American Southwest, Lake Mead, Lake Powell Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, West Texas, Mexico, South California, Nevada and help Arkansas, Oklahoma and Texas with their water shortage and pumped water storage.

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

The TransContinental Aqueduct. A realistic way to save Lake Mead and reverse the desertification of the American SouthWest.

Together they will double the amount of water provided to the American Southwest and more than triple the amount of pumped storage capacity for the whole nation. When we shift from gas and diesel to electric vehicles the pumped storage capacity must be increased, or the extra electricity must still be provided by fossil fuels. Solar and wind power requires pumped storage to reduce the strain on the electric grid, when the cars need to be re-charged at lunch and dinner time.

The future expansion of wind power is limited by availability of battery and pumped storage. And they kill birds. Time to consider small, vertical wind turbines.

When I was a little boy is Sweden my father had a dear old friend that was so in love with birds and they with him that he had a great horned owl that came down and sat on his shoulder when he called. I was only three years old at that time, but the sight of this giant bird coming down from the big spruce tree is a sight I will never forget. Since then I have always enjoyed watching birds, normally soaring hawks, but on occasion eagles, rare as they may be.

Later in life I got gloriously saved and started reading the Bible, and one verse from the prophet Isaiah stands out :Isaiah 40:31 But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.

I am now at the stage in my life where walk and not faint seems pretty good, but follow what goes on in the world is still exciting, even watching the birds. They inspire and soar effortlessly, seemingly defy limitations.

The big talk is fighting climate change, and the prevailing political belief is that rising CO2 levels is its major cause, so no expense is spared to find renewable energy in the form of wind power, but at what cost?

The Eagle has landed in aerie

on top of a windmill – that’s scary.

Doesn’t know she will die,

whacked right out of the sky

from rotating blades unawary.

The idea of wind farming is to create sustainable energy.

Will the population of eagles and other large birds be sustainable?

Image result for eagles and wind turbines

Eagles like to build their aeries on top of wind turbines, the highest structure in their territory.

It is estimated that the total bird kill by the year 2030 is going to be 1 million three hundred thousand birds. And that is if the Green New Deal is not implemented.

Is the large bird population sustainable even now?

crane-killed-by-turbine

This is a crane killed by a wind turbine blade. In parts of Ohio they have forbidden the turbines to run at night to protect a rare bat.

The allowable yearly limit for killing bald eagles by wind turbines  was upped from 1100 to 4200 per year on Jan 17 2017, still under the Obama administration. The allowable limit for golden eagles is still 0. If the bird-kill exceeds the allowance, heavy fines are imposed, but that is just the price of producing clean energy. in 2013 Duke energy paid a 1.9 million dollar fine for killing 14 golden eagles and 149 other protected birds. Recently, a US-based wind energy firm has been slapped with an $8m fine after at least 150 eagles died at its wind farms across eight states over the last 10 years. The company has also been given five years of probation. In April 2022 ESI Energy, a subsidiary of NextEra Energy, did plead guilty to three counts of violating the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. The company acknowledged the deaths of golden and bald eagles since 2012 at its farms in Wyoming, California, New Mexico, North Dakota, Colorado, Michigan, Arizona and Illinois, see more here.

Now for something completely unrelated: If you as a person poaches an eagle egg, see this picture

And it takes energy to produce energy. The cost of de-icing the average airplane is $1500. And that is without a helicopter.

And I am not sure about the former.

But there is still hope to solve the wind turbine bird kill problem. One potential solution is the vertical wind turbine:

low_cost_n6ujf

It has a somewhat lower wind efficiency than horizontal, 3 blade wind turbines, but can produce electricity for about 4 c per kWh, about the same as horizontal wind turbines, so all is not lost. They do not kill birds, and can be made to function under wind speeds of up to 70 mph, but cut out speed is typically around 30 mph. This is a rapidly developing field, and requires much further analysis. A typical power output for a vertical wind turbine is 1 to 5 kW, 12 or 24 V output, versus the modern horizontal 3 blade wind turbines are 2 to 4 MW. Yet, the cost per kWh is comparable.

Another design, 300W nominal. Simple. eh!

Bur vertical windmills are hardly a new concept. These windmills are from Nashtifan, Iran. Dozens stand atop a wall in the windy city, not far from the Afghanistan border.

From a distance, they look like wooden turnstiles. But they are vertical-axis windmills constructed over 1,000 years ago from wood, straw and clay. And since the blades are arrayed on a vertical axis, energy is translated down the mast to the grindstone without the need for any of the intermediary gears found on horizontal axis windmills.

The TransContinental Aqueduct. A realistic way to save Lake Mead and reverse the desertification of the American SouthWest.

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.

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.
  12. Arkansas and Oklahoma have a good barge traffic system. This proposal will increase flood control and improve barge traffic by increasing the maximum barge draft from 9 feet to 12 feet and during dry periods reverse the flow of the Arkansas River. The Arkansas river yearly water flow is nearly double that of the Colorado River.

The solution:

Build a transcontinental aqueduct from the Mississippi River to the Colorado River capable of transporting 12 million acre-ft of water yearly through Arkansas, Oklahoma, 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 four times more water over four times the distance and raise the water nearly 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 in Phase 1 cost around $200 Billion in 2022 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. The Arkansas River is used as a drinking water source.

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 when fully built out.

The extra pumped hydro-power storage will come from a number of dams built as part of the aqueduct or adjacent to it. The water will be pumped from surplus wind and solar power generators when available. This will provide up to 50 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 up to 23 GW of 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 the remaining 5, when the aqueduct is fully built.

These 43 GW of hydro-power capacity will be as follows: Oklahoma, 0.2 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 more than 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 of the Trans-Continental aqueduct. From the Mississippi river to the Robert S. Kerr Lock and dam on the Arkansas River. Total length 15miles of aqueduct and 305 miles of river. Cost of water 300 kWh per acre-ft.

Leg 2 of the Transcontinental Aqueduct: From the Robert S. Kerr Lock and dam to the Eufaula Dam on the Canadian River. Total length 42 miles of lake and river. Cost of water 585 kWh per acre-ft.

Leg 3 of the Transcontinental aqueduct. From the Eufaula Dam to Ray Roberts Lake. Total length 42 miles of lake and 125 miles of aqueduct. Cost of water 900 kWh per acre-ft.

Leg 4 of the Transcontinental Aqueduct. From Lake Ray Roberts to the Brad Dam (to be built). Total length 205 miles of aqueduct. Cost of water 1735 kWh per acre-ft.

Leg 5 of the Transcontinental aqueduct. From Brad dam to Deadman Draw dam and pumped storage power plant. Total length 5 miles of lake and 60 miles of aqueduct. Cost of water 2425 kWh per acre-ft. In Phase 2 can provide up to 4 GW of pumped storage power.

Leg 6 of the Transcontinental aqueduct. From Deadman Draw dam and pumped storage power plant to Buffalo Soldier Draw dam and optional pumped storage plant.Total length 205 miles of aqueduct. Cost of water 3711 kWh per acre-ft.In Phase 2 can provide up to 4.8 GW of pumped storage power.

Leg 7, leg 8 and leg 9 of the Transcontinental aqueduct. From the Buffalo Soldier Draw dam to the highest point of the aqueduct 10 miles into Arizona. Leg 7 is 255 miles. Cost of water 6132 kWh per acre-ft. Leg 8 is 125 miles. Cost of water is 5705 kWh per acre-ft. Leg 9 is 160 miles. Cost of water is 6605 kWh per acre-ft.

The Transcontinental Aqueduct. Leg 10: The highest pumping station in Arizona to San Carlos Lake, a distance of 93 miles. Cost of water 5205 kWh per acre-ft.

The Transcontinental Aqueduct. Leg 11: From San Carlos Lake to East Diversion dam, a distance of about 60 miles. Cost of water 4905 kWh per acre-ft.

The Transcontinental aqueduct Leg 12: From the East Diversion dam to connecting to the Central Arizona aqueduct 45 miles WNW of Phoenix. Phase 1 is 20 miles of aqueduct and 85 miles of River. Cost of water is 5105 kWh per acre-ft. Phase 2 adds 130 miles of aqueduct . The cost of water is 5065 kWh per acre-ft.

The Transcontinental aqueduct, Leg 13: From the New Arlington dam to the Colorado River. Leg 13, phase 1 is 130 miles of river.Cost of water is 5105 kWh per acre-ft. Phase 2 adds 15 miles of aqueduct . The cost of water is 5130 kWh per acre-ft.

The Transcontinental Aqueduct, spur 14: The Wilson Canyon Solar farm and pumped storage plant. Can supply 13.5 GW of pumped storage power.

The Transcontinental Aqueduct, spur 15: The Poppy Canyon Solar farm and pumped storage plant. Can provide up to 28 GW of pumped storage power.

The Transcontinental Aqueduct will serve the Lower Colorado River Basin, Southern New Mexico and Western Texas. It will pump up to 12 million acre-ft of water annually from the Arkansas river and Mississippi river all the way to southern Colorado River.

The total electricity needed to accomplish this giant endeavor is about 60 billion kWh annually. or about one and a half percent of the current US electricity demand. In 2020 the US produced 1,586 billion kWh from natural gas, 956 from coal, 337.5 from wind and 90.9 from solar.

For this giant project to have any chance of success there has to be something in it to be gained from every state that will be participating. Here are some of the benefits:

Arizona: Arizona needs more water. The water from Mississippi is less saline and better suited for agriculture and the people growth makes it necessary to provide more water sources. Right now the aquifers are being depleted. Then what? One example: The San Carlos lake is nearly dry half the time and almost never filled to capacity. With the aqueduct supplying water it can be filled to 80 +- 20% of full capacity all the time. In the event of a very large snow melt the lake level can be reduced in advance to accommodate the extra flow. Likewise during Monsoon season the aqueduct flow can be reduced in anticipation of large rain events. Arizona together with New Mexico has the best locations for solar power, but is lacking the water necessary for hydro-power storage. This proposal will give 600 cfs of water to Tucson, 3,100 cfs to the Phoenix area and 3,900 cfs to the lower Colorado River in Phase 1. I phase 2 it will add 3,100 cfs to Lake Havasu and an extra 4,700 cfs to the lower Colorado River. It will also also add 28 GW of hydro-power storage capable of adding 140 GWh of electric peak power daily when it is fully built out in Phase 3.

Arkansas: The main benefit for Arkansas is better flood control and river control of the Arkansas River and allowing it to deepen the draft for canal barges from 9,5 feet to 12 feet, which is standard on the Mississippi river.

California: The water aqueduct serving Los Angeles will be allowed to use maximum capacity at all times. Additional water resources will be given the greater San Diego area. The Imperial valley will be given sweet Mississippi and Arkansas River water, which will improve agriculture yield. The polluted New River will be cut off at the Mexico border. There will be water allocated to the Salton Sea. There is a proposal to mine the world’s largest Lithium ore, mining the deep brine, rich in Lithium. (about a third of the world supply according to one estimate). This requires water, and as a minimum requirement to allow mining in the Salton Sea the water needs to be cleaned. This requires further investigation, but the area around the Salton Sea is maybe the most unhealthy in the United States. It used to be a great vacation spot.

Mexico: During the negotiations about who was going to get the water in Lake Mead Mexico did not get enough water, so they have been using all remaining water for irrigation, and no water is reaching the ocean anymore. In addition the water is too salty for ideal irrigation. This proposal will provide sweet Mississippi and Arkansas River water to Mexico, ensure that some water reaches the Colorado river delta. This will restore the important ecology and restore aquatic life in the delta and the gulf. The town of Mexicali will get some water in exchange for shutting off New River completely.

Nevada: Las Vegas is a catastrophe waiting to happen unless Lake Mead is saved. With this proposal there will be ample opportunity to make the desert bloom.

New Mexico: The state is ideally suited for solar panels. In addition to give much needed water to communities along the length of the aqueduct, it will provide 13.5 GW of pumped storage power to be made available at peak power usage for up to 5 hours a day.

Oklahoma: The main advantage for Oklahoma is a much improved flood control. It will provide the same advantage for river barge traffic as benefits Arkansas.

Texas: The state has a big problem. It has already built up too much wind power and can not give up their coal burning power plants until the electricity is better balanced. They have no hydro-electric power storage at all, and we saw the result of that in a previous year’s cold snap. This proposal will give the Texas electric grid 8.8 GW of hydro-electric power for up to 5 hours a day.

Utah: The state will no longer be bound to provide water to Lake Mead, but can use all of its water rights for Utah, especially the Salt Lake City region.

Wyoming: The state will be free to use the water in the Green River and all the yearly allocated 1.05 million acre-feet of water can be used by the state of Wyoming.

The cost to do all these aqueducts will be substantial, but it can be done for less than 350 billion dollars in 2022 money, and that includes the cost of providing power generation. Considering it involves 40 million people dependent on the Colorado River now and another 10 million east of the Rocky Mountains, it is well worth doing, much more important to do than other “green” projects, since it will save the American Southwest from becoming an uninhabitable desert.

This proposed solution cannot be made possible without changing our approach to power generation. The mantra now is to solve all our power needs through renewables. Texas has shown us that too much wind power without any hydroelectric power storage can lead to disaster. In addition, windmills kill birds, even threatening some species, such as the Golden Eagle and other large raptors that like to build their aeries on top of the generators. Solar panels work best in arid, sunny climate, such as Arizona and New Mexico, but the panels need cooling and cleaning to work best, and that takes water. They are even more dependent on hydro-power storage than wind. The transcontinental aqueduct will triple the hydro-electric power storage for the nation. Without pumped power storage we still need all the conventional power generation capacity for when the sun doesn’t shine and the wind doesn’t blow.

Conventional Nuclear power plants doesn’t work in most places since they depend on water for their cooling, and most of these aqueducts pump water in near deserts, and there would be too much evaporation losses to use water from the aqueducts for cooling.

The only realistic approach would be to use LFTR power plants. (Liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactors). There are many advantages for using LFTR. Here are 30 reasons why LFTRs is by far the best choice.

For this project to succeed there must be developed a better way to build SMRs (Small Modular Reactors, less than 250 MW) more effectively. The price to build a LFTR plant should be less than $2.50 per watt. While the LFTR science is well understood, the LFTR engineering is not fully developed yet, but will be ready in less than 5 years if we get to it. In the mean time there should be built one or more assembly plants that can mass produce LFTR reactor vessels small enough so they can be shipped on a normal flatbed trailer through the normal highway system. My contention is that a 100 MW reactor vessel can be built this way and the total cost per plant will be less than 250 Million dollars. To save the American Southwest we will need about 350 of them, or 87,5 billion dollars total. This cost is included in the total calculation. There will be many more of these plants produced to produce all the electric power to power all the electric vehicles that are going to be built. This is the way to reduce fossil fuel consumption. Just switching to electric vehicles will not do the trick. The electric energy must come from somewhere. To convert all cars and trucks and with unchanging driving habits will require another 600 GW of generating capacity by 2050, our present “net zero emissions” goal.

To do this project we need cooperation from all states in providing eminent domain access. The Federal government will need to approve LFTR as the preferred Nuclear process and streamline approval process from many years to less than one year.

Some of the power will come from solar panels and wind turbines, which will reduce the need for LFTR’s. One tantalizing idea is to cover the aqueduct with solar panels. This will do many things, it will not take up additional acreage, water needed to keep the panels clean is readily available, and can even be used to cool the solar panels if economically beneficial. The area available is 152 feet times 1100 miles = 1.6 billion square feet, and one square foot of solar panel produces around 1 W, which means covering the aqueduct with solar panels would produce 882 MW of power. It would also reduce evaporation. The second source of energy will be 165,000 5kW vertical wind turbines producing 825 MW when the wind is blowing. The rest of the power will cme from LFTRs. This idea requires further analysis. Here is one possible implementation of the idea:

Total volume of water is over 1 million acre-ft.

The Transcontinental Aqueduct, spur 15: The Poppy Canyon Solar farm and pumped storage plant

One of the many problems facing solar farms is that they produce electricity only when the sun shines, which is less than half the time, so for the rest of the time electricity must be provided some other way. Historically peak power demands were provided by pumped storage plant, but very few have been built since the 70’s. Peak power is now supplied by natural gas electric plants, which is for now the most economic solution. If we want to get real about reducing our fossil fuel dependence, pumped storage must be looked at seriously, especially when changing our vehicle fleet from gasoline or diesel fuel to electric power source.

Here is spur 15 proposal sketch

Spur 15 is 7 miles long, starting at 3950′ and ending at 4750′

Dam 1 is the Poppy Canyon Upper Lake. To fill this lake in a year requires Spur 15 to have a capacity of 330 cfs. It will require 240 GWh to fill the lake from the TCA connection point. It has a 4,000 feet wide and up to 640 feet high dam, topping out at 5400 feet, and the lake holds a volume of up to 240,000 acre-ft of water. It would normally hold a minimum volume of 60,000 acre-feet of water to increase the average height difference between the upper and lower dam.

Dam width 4,500′ height 540′ water storage 230,000 acre-ft

Dam 2 dams the Cove Tank dam. It has a 3,300 feet wide and up to 360 feet high dam, topping out at 4,080 feet, and the lake holds a water volume of up to 110,000 acre-ft. Water is pumped from and released to the upper dam via a 13 mile tunnel

Dam width 6,000′ height 380′ water storage 110,000 acre-ft

Dam 3 is the Poppy Canyon Lower Dam. It has a 3,300 feet wide and up to 460 feet high dam, topping out at 4,900 feet, and the lake holds a water volume of up to 70,000 acre-ft. Water is pumped from and released to the upper lake 1.8 mile tunnel.

How much energy will it generate per day? To dam 2 will be releasde 110,000 acre-ft for 5 hrs generating 115 GWh per day or 23 GW of peak power for 5 hrs. Dam 3 will release 70,000 acre-ft for 5 hrs generating 25 GWh per day or 5 GW of peak power for 5 hrs. To again fill dam 2 and 3 will require 17 GW of power from the solar panels. An alternate power would be 9 GW of LFTR power plants, generating 9 GW of alternate peak power when water is released. Most probably the power sources will be a combination of the two.

This pumped storage plant will add another 120% to the existing U.S. pumped storage capacity.

The Transcontinental Aqueduct, spur 14: The Wilson Canyon Solar farm and pumped storage plant.

One of the many problems facing solar farms is that they produce electricity only when the sun shines, which is less than half the time, so for the rest of the time electricity must be provided some other way. Historically peak power demands were provided by pumped storage plant, but very few have been built since the 70’s. Peak power is now supplied by natural gas electric plants, which is for now the most economic solution. If we want to get real about reducing our fossil fuel dependence, pumped storage must be looked at seriously, especially when changing our vehicle fleet from gasoline or diesel fuel to electric power source.

Here is spur 14 proposal sketch

Spur 14 is 100 miles long, starting at 3000′ and ending at 4700′

Dam 1 is the White Oaks Canyon Lake. To fill this lake in a year requires Spur 14 to have a capacity of 120 cfs. It will require 190 GWh to fill the lake from the aqueduct.. It has a 2000 feet wide and up to 480 feet high dam, topping out at 5140 feet, and the lake holds a volume of up to 100,000 acre-ft of water.

Dam 2 dams the Pine Canyon dam. It has a 2,200 feet wide and up to 240 feet high dam, topping out at 5,620 feet, and the lake holds a water volume of up to 60,000 acre-ft. Water is pumped from and released to the White Oaks Canyon lake to the Pine Canyon pumped storage via a 2 mile tunnel.

Dam 3 dams the Sitting Bull Canyon well above the Sitting Bull Falls recreation area. It has a 2,000 feet wide and up to 360 feet high dam, topping out at 5,610 feet, and the lake holds a water volume of up to 40,000 acre-ft. Water is pumped from and released to the White Oaks Canyon lake to the Pine Canyon pumped storage via a 2.4 mile tunnel.

How much energy will it generate per day? Dam 2 will release 60,000 acre-ft for 5 hrs generating 45 GWh per day or 9 GW of peak power for 5 hrs. Dam 3 will release 40,000 acre-ft for 5 hrs generating 28 GWh per day or 5.6 GW of peak power for 5 hrs. To again fill dam 2 and 3 will require 17 GW of power from the solar panels. An alternate power would be 4.5 GW of LFTR power plants, generating 4.5 GW of alternate peak power when water is released.

This pumped storage plant will add another 70% to the U.S. pumped storage capacity.

The Transcontinental Aqueduct. Leg 10: The highest pumping station in Arizona to San Carlos Lake, a distance of 93 miles.

The aqueduct stage of this leg is 32 miles and is generating power.The drop is average (4,200 – 3,000 – 32×2.2) = 1,130 feet. The maximum flow is 16,800 cfs. This stage is capable of generating maximum 1.4 GW of power 24 hours a day. Then it drains into Gila River for 47 miles, following 14 miles of San Carlos lake, for a total of 93 miles.

San_Carlos_Lake is located within the 3,000-square-mile (7,800 km2) San Carlos Apache Indian Reservation, and is thus subject to tribal regulations. It has been full only three times, in 1993 it overflowed the spillway and about 35,000 cfs of water caused erosion damage to natural gas pipelines. The lake contained (April 6,2021) less than 100 acre-ft of water. All fish was dead.

When former President Coolidge dedicated the dam in 1930, the dam had not begun to fill. Humorist Will Rogers looked at the grass in the lake bed, and said, “If this were my dam, I’d mow it.”[

When the Transcontinental aqueduct is built the lake will always be nearly filled, level will be at 2510 feet with flood control nearly automatic, it will never overflow, and it will look like this, or better:

The San Carlos lake, when filled will hold 1,000,000 acre-ft of water. Here it is half filled.

The Coolidge dam will have to be retrofitted to accommodate a 17,000 cfs water flow. When water starts flowing at half capacity, 8,400 cfs in phase 1 of the building project it will take 2 months to fill the lake.

What’s in it for Arizona? The San Carlos Lake has been a great disappointment. It is more often empty than even half full, and when it is empty, all fish die. With The Gila river will be rejuvenated and will be able to carry fish again, making it the great recreation spot it was meant to be. In addition it will generate up to 1,4 GW of Power and carry up to 12 Million Acre-ft per year of water to the thirsty American South-west. In the first phase, while the aqueduct is built to full capacity, when the power stations have installed only half capacity, the flow will be 6 MAf per year, and power generated will be up to 700 MW.