Sometimes the elevator just doesn’t go to the top floor.
He’s not the brightest bulb in the box.
He’s not the sharpest tool in the shed.
We have all heard these expressions, but last week Arizona state Sen. Tim Dunn (R-District 13 in Yuma and northwest Maricopa County) publicly unveiled one of the most stupid ideas I’ve ever heard.
Dunn and a handful of other senators are, “urging the United States Congress to fund a technological and feasibility study for the development of a diversion dam and pipeline to harvest floodwater from the Mississippi River to replenish the Colorado River and prevent flood damage along the Mississippi River.”
While this would be an undertaking equal to the construction of the great pyramids of Egypt or the Great Wall of China, do these senators understand just how much this would cost, let alone the engineering necessary to move the amount of water necessary to make any impact on the Colorado River?
The cost of a study to determine the feasibility of the plan would be a complete waste. I can give the senators an answer to their question, “Is the harvesting of Mississippi River floodwaters to replenish the Colorado River supply a good idea?”
It will never be possible to control major floods on the Mississippi River. It will never be possible to hold all that water somewhere. It will never be possible to pipe that water against the gravity of the Continental Divide and into the Colorado River. It is a minimum of 1,067 miles from the Mississippi River to the Colorado River if it could be built in a fairly straight line (St. Louis to Grand Junction, Colorado, based on the route of Interstate 70).
Even if it were possible, the cost associated with pumping all that water would make it more expensive than gold.
We’re not talking about a small pipeline. We’re talking a man-made super river that flows uphill.
According to a press release the senators wrote on May 13, “Dunn’s bill outlines that if it’s shown to be feasible, the US Congress is urged to implement the diversion dam and pipeline as a partial solution to the water supply shortage in Lake Powell and Lake Mead and the flood damage that occurs along the Mississippi River.”
A small pipeline of water isn’t going to impact Lake Powell and Lake Mead one bit because you will never be able to move enough water to make a difference.
“Arizona has long been at the forefront among Western states in supporting the development and implementation of pioneering, well-reasoned, water-management policies,” Dunn said. “Arizona and the other six Colorado Basin states are in the 20th year of severe drought and experiencing a severe water shortage. Water levels are critical levels, jeopardizing the water delivery and power generation. A new water source could help augment Colorado River supplies. One promising possibility involves piping water that is harvested from Mississippi River floodwaters. Diverting this water, which is otherwise lost into the Gulf of Mexico, would also help prevent the loss of human life and billions in economic damages when such flooding occurs. This concept is already being proven in Denver, where floodwater is being successfully harvested from the Missouri River to help alleviate its water shortage.”
The distance from the Missouri River to Denver isn’t nearly as far as Arizona is from the Mississippi River. Denver also did not require as much water as we need going into the Colorado River.
Yes, we do have a problem of being one of the fastest growing states in the nation combined with falling water resources due to drought and climate change. Money spent on a feasibility study to find out if this is a good idea could be better spent on a real solution, not this stupid “pipe dream.”
Here are some words of encouragement I offer to Sen. Dunn: “Thanks for thinking about the people of the great state of Arizona. We are grateful that someone is trying to solve our water shortage, but please try harder and support solid ideas not fairy tales that will never become reality.”