Is it really Climate Change?
Everybody is blaming Climate Change, so it must be true. Let’s study the problem with the Colorado River. Let’s see if it’s Climate Change causing the diminishing flow of the Colorado River or if misuse of the river’s water is causing climate change?
How Can Water Be Misused?
Something we have learned by experience is that if you move fresh water out of its watershed, there will be unintended consequences. The more water you remove the greater the surprise.
We Removed Lots Of Water.
During the last century humans have redirected Colorado River water out of its watershed. In this case “lots” means all of it. A normal river will begin as a stream and end by dumping huge amounts of water into the ocean. Just think of all that nice freshwater being dumped into the salty ocean. What a waste of valuable freshwater! So, shouldn’t it be diverted before it is lost? Well, we did and the unexpected happened.
What was the unexpected?
The river delta at the end of the Colorado River covered 9,000 miles2 in Mexico. When all the water was removed, that delta became dry. A lush green place turned into a dead 9,000 miles2 desert. That is a huge environmental catastrophe. That was a change in the local climate.
That is in Mexico. Should we care?
From an aspect of being nice to our neighbors, we should care. Following a Biblical adage: Ask yourself what you want people to do for you; then grab the initiative and do it for them! (Luke 16: MSG). Would we wish someone to make a 9,000 miles2 desert in our country? Then we should not have made one in Mexico. This desert is a dry and desolate place where once were plants, birds, fish, and animals living their daily lives. The unfortunate critters had to migrate to new homes or die.
But There Is More!
More? Yes. The verdant delta provided moisture to areas around it, bringing mist, rain, and snow. The moisture traveled north and kept Laguna Salada, Baja, MX filled with water. The evaporation from Laguna Salada traveled north to help keep the Salton Sea full. Moisture from the Salton Sea moved north and entered the Great Basin, where it circulated until it came to rest in the Great Salt Lake. The water in the Great Salt Lake then created moisture which fed the headwaters of the Bear, Colorado, Jordan, Snake, Rio Grande, and Weber rivers. Finally, the Colorado River carried the water back to the delta where it could start again, but we drained it all out. Since the mid 1900s the delta has been a desert. It gave no moisture to Laguna Salada. Since 1999 Laguna Salada has been dry and gives no moisture to the north. The mega-drought began in 2000. As a result of the mega-drought there is less water in Salton Sea, less water in the Great Basin, less water in the Great Salt Lake, and now less water in the Colorado River. This hydrologic cycle has been broken, and until it can be repaired, the SW-USA will experience greater and greater water shortages. This is exactly what we have seen since 2000.
We Broke It?
Yes. We broke a major water cycle by draining the river dry. So, let’s fix it by no longer taking the water out of the river. Wait! There are a couple of billion people who will have a problem with that plan. We need another plan which will let the people get their water.
Let’s Conserve. That Will Do It.
Conservation is a great strategy to get through a short-term problem. So, yes, conserve. But we need more than a short-term fix. We need a real durable solution which will restore the broken hydrologic cycle.
Can we fix a water-cycle?
In this case there is something which can be done which will repair this problem and may even improve the hydrology of the entire SW-USA. That is almost too good to be true.
How To Fix A Hydrologic-Cycle.
The base plan is to rehydrate the Great Basin. Water must be moved into the Great Basin to change it from an arid, water deficit, environment into a place with a water surplus. There are multiple routes which can be used to bring water into the Great Basin. What must be avoided is bringing in freshwater. We have already learned that removing freshwater from its watershed will cause unintended consequences. We do not want to create another environmental disaster to fix an environmental disaster.
The only water which can be moved without detriment to its originating environment is ocean water. The ocean has plenty to spare and cares little if we take some out of it. Once moved into a hot dry climate the ocean water will evaporate and be converted into fresh clean water, returning to earth as mist, rain or snow.
What Route Is Best To Move the Water?
The route we propose begins at the Gulf of California (the Sea of Cortez), passes through Laguna Salada, Baja, MX, moves across the MX/US border into the Salton Sea, from which it is pumped over a mountain into Death Valley. This route has multiple benefits for the regions along its path.
Colorado River Delta, Baja, MX.
The existing Coyote Canal, which passes through the Colorado River delta, is to be dredged deeper and widened so that its flow is reversed and will allow gravity to move ocean water into Laguna Salada. Along its path it will bring some desperately needed hydration to the Colorado River delta.
Laguna Salada, Baja, MX.
Laguna Salada was once the fishing grounds for some of the indigenous peoples of Mexico. Cutting off the Colorado River flow allowed this fishing grounds to become dry and useless. Restoring Laguna Salada will be giving climate justice to these people.
Salton Sea, CA, USA.
Extending the Coyote Canal from Laguna Salada to the Salton Sea will allow gravity flow of ocean water into the Salton Sea. This water has a much lower salt content than is currently within the Salton Sea. By increasing the surface level of the Salton Sea, the existing toxic dust problem will be permanently abated. This will save California millions of dollars which it is now spending on abating the same dust. Refilling the Salton Sea will also invigorate the local economy which has a rich history as a desired vacation spot. This invigorated economy will help to refill the nearly empty coffers of California as the tax revenues roll in. The increased surface area of the Salton Sea will launch more moisture into the air which will be beneficial for the local farmers and indigenous peoples.
Pumps And Pipes.
Active Climate rescue Initiative usually eschews pumps and pipes because they require energy to operate and must be maintained over the decades they will be used. It has always been the intent to install systems with gravity flow which will continue to operate even after man has stopped caring about them. Unfortunately, this installation mandates pumps and pipes, however, it is unlikely that man will lose interest in this system because it will be what feeds the Colorado River and supplies water to billions of people. The cost of construction, operation, and maintenance can be funded by a fee on water drawn from the Colorado River.
Bureau of Reclamation.
The Bureau of Reclamation is the best entity to manage this installation and operation because it is the reclamation of a water system, which is exactly their mission. The construction, operation and maintenance funds can be gathered as a user fee, based on volume of water drawn from the Colorado River. Those who have been draining the Colorado River dry have been doing so at no cost (other than transport costs) for decades, and they have ruined a local environment in the process. The fee is not punitive but is only payment for services rendered.
Without These Pipes And Pumps.
Without these pipes and pumps operating, the mega-drought will become the new normal and the Colorado River flow will continue to diminish until it reaches an unacceptable new normal. The Colorado River will not be the only river effected. The Bear, Jordan, Snake, Rio Grande, and Weber rivers will, if they have not already, experience decreased flow rates. The entire SW-USA and NW-MX will become sahara-like.
Death Valley, CA, USA.
A modulated amount of ocean water must be placed into Death Valley. This is not intended to flood Death Valley. The amount of water within Death Valley is not the determination of how much water is needed. The gauge for the intake will be the Great Salt Lake. If the Great Salt Lake level becomes too high, the flow into Death Valley will be reduced. Death Valley will have a standing pool of hyper saline water, but that is normal to nature. Death Valley is a dry terminal pool which is hyper saline, but it has just been a long while since it had any substantive standing water. Regardless of where water is added to the Great Basin, the lowest place within the Great Basin will gain a pool of water. That lowest place is Death Valley. Death Valley will gain water from the pumping operation, but as the water evaporates and returns as rain, Death Valley will also receive returning surface water. The resulting hyper saline terminal lake may not be aromatically friendly, but being as remote as it is that should not be grossly offensive to many people.
The Great Basin, NV, UT OR, WY, ID, USA.
The Great Basin is a large bowl (200,000 miles2 , 520,000 km2) where all surface water flows in, and none flows out. The environment within the Great Basin is considered arid, which means it is a desert. This is a large desert which includes most of Nevada, half of Utah, substantial portions of Oregon and California, and smaller pieces of Idaho and Wyoming. This large desert exists because of a weather phenomenon called Rain Shadow. The Rain Shadow effect allows more water to be blown out than it allows to be blown into the Great Basin. Adding ocean water into anyplace within the Great Basin will benefit the whole Great Basin because it will evaporate, and the airborne moisture will circulate within the Great Basin to moisten the ground, rehydrating the entire desert.
Rehydration of Great Basin.
This is magic at work. This is the power of natural processes shining. Consider the ocean water as the fuel to fire the process of rehydration. The action of depositing ocean water into Death Valley, the hottest place in the USA, will immediately initiate evaporation. Being a bowl, the moisture will circulate within this bowl and be deposited throughout the bowl as mist, rain, and snow. This freshwater will invigorate plants and encourage wildlife. It will fall on the ground and wash the salt from the soil toward the salt lakes. It will enable farming and will fill aquifers. The many indigenous peoples conscripted to live within the Great Bason will experience some climate justice by the availability of fresh water in their wells. Over time this will change 200,000 miles2 of desert into moist soil good for farming.
The Great Salt Lake, UT, USA.
Situated in the northeast corner of the Great Basin is the Great Salt Lake, a highly saline terminal lake. Because of the broken water cycle this lake is in imminent danger of becoming a salt plain instead of a salt lake. As it evaporates it exposes its sediments which are expected to contain lots of toxic materials. Dust from nuclear testing is one of the more scarry of the substances which is expected. Salt Lake City, situated on the banks of the Great Salt Lake, and downwind of the lake is in direct line of fire for these toxins. Allowing the Great Salt Lake to fully evaporate is not acceptable. Pumping ocean water into Death Valley will solve this potential problem with no further expenditure of energy. Natural processes will move water from Death Valley into the Great Salt Lake and keep it full. This is expected to work so well that the pumping will have to be monitored to assure that too much water does not make it into the Great Salt Lake.
Colorado is a headwater state. Meaning that almost all of its rivers begin in the Rocky Mountains and flow out of the state. The moisture which stocks these headwaters with rain and snow originates from multiple water cycles. During this mega-drought the water cycle which pushed moisture out of the Great Basin into Colorado is broken. All of the rivers in Colorado are experiencing some level of diminished flow. With the water cycle repaired and the Great Basin rehydrated, the full flow will return to all these rivers from Colorado. Fresh clean water will tumble down the mountains to its remote destinations and invigorate life along its way. Those that rely on the Colorado River for life and livelihood will have plenty of water to share.
With the outlined plan, the original water cycle is repaired, the Great Basin is rehydrated, the Great Salt Lake is saved, and the Colorado headwaters filling their rivers. Human and economic opportunity are returned in places and will be new in other places. The full flow of the Colorado River is assured for decades. This benefits all who live and work in SE-USA and NE-MX. The only negative is a change to Death Valley into Death Lake. The plan can be managed by an existing arm of the US government with an assured income stream sufficient for its construction, operation, and maintenance. Without the plan, billions of people will have some disruption in their lives. We need to: Move the Water!
Spread The Word.
Spread the word that: “Move the Water!” is the initiative which will repair the water cycle, end the mega-drought, save the Great Salt Lake, and refill the Colorado River. This will benefit all the people who live and work in southeast-USA and northwest-MX. By accomplishing this plan, Climate Change will occur, but in the right direction this time.
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