I read, with equal doses of amusement and astonishment, an op-ed piece in the Albuquerque Journal a few weeks ago about one man’s idea to build a pipeline from Lousiana to Lake Mead to transport water from the Mississippi to the Colorado River basin.
The plan, put forward by a retired engineer from California, suggested water could be piped almost 1,500 miles across Louisiana, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and Nevada to fill up Lake Mead in just 254 days. Since the water would come from an old river control structure intended to reduce flooding risk in the Mississippi delta, no one — except a lot of migratory birds — would really miss the water.
The pipeline would be tasked with pumping 250,00 gallons of water per second through an elevation gain of at least 5,000 feet (my conservative estimate) to get from a spot about 200 miles north of New Orleans to Lake Mead. In my estimation, that would be a large enough section of pipe that could suck lots of alligators — not to mention jillions of crawdads, water moccasins and other slimy swamp critters — into a hugely popular recreational lake on the Colorado River.
Environmentalists who have heard of the plan are immediately calling “fowl,” since it would displace a lot of migratory bird habitat. Maybe those birds could divert their winter route and end up spending time on the shores of Lake Mead while occasionally making a trip to the Flamingo Hotel in nearby Las Vegas for R & R.
Then, of course, there’s the big question of how much it would cost, who is going to pay for it and how long it would take. One story I read suggested that the litigation involved in securing a right of way for the pipeline, disputes over water rights, challenges by environmental group and just general public grumpiness could take 30 years to resolve. By that time, Lake Mead probably would likely have deteriorated into a big stinky mud put — but at least without alligators.
So here’s my alternative. We’ve read recently about the impending separation of a big chunk of shelf ice from Antartica. Maybe we could employ fracking techniques used by oil producers to bust up the ice shelf in manageable chunks, load them aboard a fleet of aging Boeing 747s (they’ve stopped making new ones and there bunches of them mothballed in the Arizona desert) and then fly to Lake Mead and drop the mini-iceburgs into what’s left of the reservoir. I estimate it would take 3,769 flights to raise the level of the lake by 10 feet (okay, I wasn’t a whiz in math at school).
The only danger I see is that you might end up with colonies of penguins waddling along the shore of the lake.