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The introduction of a nation wide canal system in the US

How can we tackle the ever increasing drop in water levels in the US?
Well, my solution is for a nationwide series of navigable channels that would allow the movement of water in all directions to help areas in need of water replenishment. What are the stumbling blocks in meeting this goal. There are 3 big hurdles in making this happen: Money, capture and storage.
I will eliminate the latter and discuss how this can be paid for.
Every year flood waters in varying parts of the country are allowed to flow freely back to the oceans. For example, the rainfall unleashed by Hurricane Sandy over the mainland US left a volume equivalent to 1/10 the volume of Lake Ontario. Had a series of channels and pumping stations been in place to capture as much as possible that water could have been used to commence the filling of these channels. 1/10 of Lake Ontario is equivalent to 40 cubic miles. Even if 50% of the volume of Sandy were to have been captured, enough water could have been had to fill a canal that would run over 1/2 million miles in length, 20ft deep and 50ft wide, more than enough to fill what would be needed. Once filled all excess could be used in two stages. A drawn for use in the Midwest to replace waters currently being drawn from the Ogallala Aquifer and second to a new super lake built somewhere in the Colorado. This would allow the Ogallala to naturally recover to water levels (currently 50 ft deep and falling). It would also take pressure off the ecosystem. Rivers and reservoirs would also naturally recover.
Pipelines could also be established to pump in seawater from the oceans to the a desalination plant near the super lake to be converted to fresh water and then using the remaining brine to salt the roads in Colorado... Continued

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    Feb 10 2013: Simple quit subsidizing ethanol and take the tariff off foreign sugar. Problem solved.
  • Feb 10 2013: Funding for this project can come from several sources. Each state would dedicate $1 million dollar per mile of constructed canal. The federal government would match that number for each state. Further revenues can be brought through private enterprise and tolling of the lock gates in the canal system. There is a similar system in Ontario Canada (Rideau Canal).
    As for the land requirements, major canals can be built near the main interstates running east/west, north/south where the federal government owns the land. This would reduce the need for expropriation. Small canals feeding into the large ones could build anywhere along local state highways.
    Along with the construction jobs the establishment of the canal would allow for many small B&B's to set up along the canal to help tourists who wish to explore the nation.
    The creation of a super lake would also net billions in investments through the construction of resorts, cottages and other related industries. Green industry would be utilized to control the gates and pumping for both the canals and pipelines that would regulate the flow of fresh water through the canal where needed.
    Although the amount of water collected would be miniscule in comparison to the rate of melt cause by global warming, a program like this could be seen as a shining light to other nations in the world as an effective tool to protect their fresh water resources. Although programs like this may not hold back the oceans, it will put fresh water back where it belongs.... into the water tables, lakes and rivers of the nation.
    Finally, I am sure that some of you would be concerned about the carbon footprint that a project would generated and it is my hope that you can present some ideas to help skirt this issue.
  • Feb 13 2013: I just want to be clear, we are talking about excess flood waters triggered by excessive rain fall.
    I do understand that water flows downstream but that is where locks and pumping stations come into play. Locks work like dams and in a channel size as I described are more than sufficient to do so.
    The effort is a cumulative one requiring each state to make the effort to fill them. When an impending storm such as Sandy were to blow threw, the canals would be lowered to allow any flood waters to be diverted to the canal allowing them to fill.
    I will offer a situation that I am familiar with. In southeast Quebec, the St Francois River floods each spring and every time a hurricane skims the east coast of Canada. The Saint t Francois leads into a series of lake and rivers that eventually lead to Lake Memphremagog which borders Vermont and Quebec. A canal could tap the waters of Lake Memphremagog on the Vermont side in order to gets its annual fill. That fill would easily be replaced by the spring flooding from the Saint Francois.
    The flood waters from the Saint Francois would exceed the need to fill the less than 300 miles of canals that could effectively be built in that state with excess maybe used to help New York if needed.
    And to give you a perspective of the volume of water needed to fill the canal? It is equivalent to the volume of fresh water consumed by NYC in a 10 day period.
  • Feb 11 2013: The canals in this country are in the wetter areas Like the old Erie canal Is there a technical reason for this? What about the deserts?
    • Feb 11 2013: Yes, the Erie Canal was designed to bypass Niagara Falls on the American side just as we have the Welland canal to do the same on the Canadian side.
      As for the deserts, the canals will be much easier to construct because sand provides less resistance than earth. In order to avert any wash out caused by currents within the canals, they would be lined with bedrock.
      Another advantage that the canals offer to the desert would be a growth of native flora.
  • Feb 10 2013: Thank you for responding. Over the last few years we have heard the repeated "shovels in the ground" comments.
    Here is a unique opportunity to put those words to use. Unemployment will change little unless the US changes its thirst for Chinese made goods which account for nearly 80 % of inventories that sit on the shelves of big box stores like Walmart. New jobs created will allow for the government to recoup some of those monies back. I look at what is happening between Canada and the US and the creation of a new bridge being built to link Windsor Ontario to Detroit. The governor of the state and the city of Detroit understood the capital opportunities involved in this new bridge creation. Unfortunately, the state senate will not allow the funding so now, Canada is going to build the bridge at it own expense and employ thousands of Canadians in doing so. To cover the costs, Canada will also be collecting all the tolls which would take about 20 years for their money to be recouped in its entirety.
    As for maintaining this, there is little action required in maintaining the Rideau Canal system as it has been designed to allow the individual to operate some of the locks manually. But there would need to be several thousands required to operate and maintain the pumping stations and piping that would be required to regulate the flow.
  • Feb 10 2013: The canal system in England was fundamental to ushering in a new era, eventually called the Industrial Revolution.

    We are now most nostalgic for it here, and have restored them where feasible.
  • Feb 10 2013: I believe this is a well thought out idea. As you stated, rainwater is rarely captured, which is surprising considering our need for it. However, I do have a couple questions regarding this idea. Given the current financial situation of our state and federal government, do you think they would be willing to donate that much money to the project? Furthermore, how much money could be saved by employing this system versus the cost to construct and maintain it?
    • Feb 10 2013: Hi again Dustin. What state do you live in??
      • Feb 11 2013: Arizona
        • Feb 11 2013: The geographic design of Arizona would allow for one of the least expensive aspect of the overall project and would also be one state that would best benefit from its construction.
          Arizona has the second lowest area of surface water. Also located at a lower elevation that Colorado, it would benefit from the use of gravity to keep such canals flowing.
          We need only look at the Colorado River in Yuma where it quickly dries out.
          A super lake in Colorado would help increase the volume of the Colorado River. The extent of these canals would be limited because it could tap the Colorado for water from the west with a further canal running from the central area of the Colorado Arizona border.
          A third canal could run parallel to I-10 running from New Mexico to California. Mileage wise, you would be looking at canals totaling about 1000 miles. At a cost of $2 million per mile, you could see a bill of $2 billion with the state picking up half the tab.That figure would account for 1/2 of 1% of state spending.