ELi5: Why can’t we build a giant water pipeline across the US? I live in north east US and we get an insane amount of precipitation. Can’t we help out the west by moving some of that to them?

13 views
0

ELi5: Why can’t we build a giant water pipeline across the US? I live in north east US and we get an insane amount of precipitation. Can’t we help out the west by moving some of that to them?

In: 3

how do you propose we get that water over the rocky mountains? that’s be bat shit crazy expensive and generally not worth it. while sure, there are “droughts” it’s not like they are entirely out of water, there’s already water pipeline networks in place to get the water there. the west already gets a lot of water from the northwest. that pipeline already exists.

At one point this summer, every county in CT was in level 2 drought conditions, some were getting close to level 3. Just because you have precipitation does not mean the entire area has it.

really short answer? Water is heavy.

It takes a TON of energy to move that much mass around, especially over or through the mountains, and we use water at a rate which absolutely dwarfs petroleum products where we’ve used pipelines for efficient movement in the past. It also doesn’t generate nearly as much revenue at the point of consumption so moving it doesn’t pay for itself the way it does with petroleum products.

Moving water is a major project and while it’s doable if you can let gravity do the work from high altitude areas to low, it’s mostly not practical in any sense if you have to move it long distances without gravity on your side or especially AGAINST gravity. A short run to a water tower is fine, but you’re not going over mountains with a significant quantity of water.

It’s a matter of scale. Water consumption is incredibly high, and trying to transport the amount of water needed to make any noticeable impact would require a monumental cost.

It is expensive to pump water uphill. And the Rocky Mountains are big hills.

CA already spends an enormous amount of money moving water around. In fact, according to the state‘s own government, the State Water Project is California’s single largest purchaser of electricity (needed for pumping water uphill even though they also generate power when that same water runs downhill). Source: https://water.ca.gov/What-We-Do/Power