By Zoltan Grossman via The Evergreen State College, Olympia, Washington
With diminishing water supplies and rapid human population growth, communities and countries are being prompted to investigate alternative water resources. Water pipelines have been a proposed, but controversial option. These massive pipelines pump water from a large source and transfer it across a great distance to areas in need. This webpage will investigate the positives and negatives of water pipelines, the conflicts they introduce, potential pipeline projects, and existing pipelines worldwide.
Purpose of Water Pipelines
The purpose of water pipelines is to transport surface water or groundwater from one area to another without causing erosion and reducing the chance of evaporation. Water pipelines are large in diameter and can supply water to communities and industries over both short and long distances. Pipelines can be installed underground or above ground. They can be used to bring in freshwater, or to transport and dispose of wastewater.
Water Shortages: Pipelines as a solution?
With the world population reaching 6 billion and counting, the need for water is growing. Only 2.4% of all water on Earth is freshwater, and less than 1% of all freshwater is available for human use. There is no question that water is absolutely necessary for human survival. However, over one billion people on Earth already do not have access to a clean water supply. With a growing population, this number will drastically increase, especially as we continue to abuse, pollute, and deplete our current supplies.
Potential Pipeline Projects
The Great Lakes Basin is vast source of water, containing 20% of the world’s surface freshwater, and 95% of U.S. surface freshwater. Pipelines have been discussed and proposed to share the water from this massive watershed to both nearby cities and suburbs, and also extending thousands of miles west and southwest. In the 1980’s, there were proposals to pipe Great Lakes water to the southwest, but were dismissed due to the costliness, difficult logistics, and strong objections from Great Lake states. As water continues to be overused and depleted in the western and southwestern states through agricultural, industrial, and domestic uses, potential pipeline proposals are not out of the question. The lakes contain enough water to supply millions of people with water.
Read the entire report here.