Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Strategic Water Reserve?

I wonder what the opportunities would be to offer our entire GMD as a Strategic Water Reserve for the central US - much along the lines of the strategic oil reserves which are bought, transferred, stored and maintained by the US Government?  In our case, all they'd have to do is buy the water - it's already in place and ready to be called upon for selective uses.  And the pumping plants already exist - thousands of them in fact.  The pipelines of use would need to be built, but pipelines are relatively inexpensive, and any piping of water to the East or South would be downhill.  With internal generators, sending the water where it's needed could possibly even generate power.

In our groundwater district we annually recharge approximately 150,000 acrefeet of water a year.  With the current saturated thickness (bank account storage) our portion of the Ogallala Aquifer could easily sustain annual withdrawls of 300,000 acrefeet for an estimated 75-100 years.  The current supply could easily supply 600,000 - 700,000 acrefeet per year for shorter periods of time - perhaps up to 5 years duration.  An added bonus would be the relatively slow, but steady annual recharge that would be coming into the system each year as all the irrigation demand is taken off-line. 

One possible use of this strategic water reserve might be for critical energy production in the future.  Our area sits conveniently near the junction of three national energy sectors - any one of which could be a recipient.  There are likely many other potential uses of this quantity of good quality groundwater.

On the downside, the local economy based to some extent on irrigated agriculture would undergo changes.  The land could still be farmed, but under dry land production only.  The amount of water used by all the municipalities, industry and private water users is only 2% of the total annual pumpage by irrigation, so there would be ample amounts of water remaining for these uses - even if reasonable growth projections were included.

I don't know but I'm guessing the local receptiveness to such an off-the-wall idea would not be enthusiastic.  Maybe the price paid for the water and other concessions from the federal government might make a difference.  Anyway, someone has to think up ideas that could actually result in a far better use the resource - for everyone.  Go ahead, let me hear your reactions.

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