Calif. Drought Plan: Make Water Flow Uphill
Ambitious plan would cost millions
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted May 8, 2014 10:41 AM CDT
In this Sept. 23, 2013 file photo, water flows through fish diversion louvres at the John E. Skinner Delta Fish Protective Facility near Tracy, Calif.   (Rich Pedroncelli)

(Newser) – Water has flowed from Northern California's snow-capped peaks to the south's parched cities ever since the California Aqueduct was built in the 1960s. Now, amid one of the worst droughts in history, state officials are considering an audacious plan to send some of the water back uphill. State water engineers say using pumps to reverse the flow of the aqueduct would be a first in a drought. It would also be a complex engineering challenge that could cost millions of dollars. Still, water agencies in the desperately dry farmlands around Bakersfield say the investment is worth it to keep grapevines, pistachios, and pomegranate trees alive. Agencies as far north as the San Francisco Bay Area are talking about a similar project.

"There is no place on planet Earth where an aqueduct is designed to go backwards," says Geoff Shaw, an engineer with the state Department of Water Resources who is reviewing the proposal. "But they have a need for water in a place where they can't fulfill it, and this is their plan to fix it." The plan the department is evaluating was drawn up by five of the local agencies, or districts, that sell irrigation water to farmers. They would bear the cost of the project, which they have estimated at $1.5 million to $9.5 million. They hope to get approval from the state in June and start pushing the water uphill later in the summer. (Another interesting drought solution: turning toilet water into drinking water.)

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Showing 3 of 33 comments
JERZJOE
May 11, 2014 10:20 AM CDT
I know a place where a lot of S__T flows uphill!! in DC!! there ya go!!
Ezekiel 25:17
May 9, 2014 8:20 PM CDT
One time they reversed the flow of the Chicago river so that the sewage and blood from the many packing plants didn't run into Lake Michigan and ruin their drinking water. So now the river runs from east to west and eventually into the Mississippi. To do this great feat, they had to make it flow backwards. The only way you do that naturally is to raise the level on the side you want it to flow from. To do that, they had to raise it 6 feet on the side closest to Lake Michigan. So they raised every building along the river between two to six feet. They did this with hundreds of screw jacks turned in unison by workers. It was successful and Lake Michigan now drains into the old Miss.
Glen_Beck_is_a_Weenie
May 8, 2014 10:56 PM CDT
Since there is not sufficient groundwater in the Mid-to-Southern Cali regions, and the "up-north" snow-melt river water is getting scarcer and scarcer, Cali definitely needs to build some desalination plants. Although its rather expensive, they definitely work well. I am currently a consultant involved with the proposed desalination plant for the Hudson River in NY and know a fair share about the various types. Granted, the Hudson River is only brackish and therefore contains significantly less dissolved salts and ions, but man, animals, and plants cannot live without water! Get the gov to build some membrane-types of desal plants and have plenty of electrical 'backups' for when the "big-one" hits and Socal will once again have all the freshwater it needs...