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Interesting:... Great Lakes gain mind-boggling amount of water in last 12 days

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Great Lakes gain mind-boggling amount of water in last 12 days

(Shannon Millard/ Mlive)
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By Mark Torregrossa | mtorregr@mlive.com
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on April 13, 2017 at 4:24 PM, updated April 13, 2017 at 7:42 PM

The Great Lakes' water levels are rising. The entire Great Lakes system has gained an incredible amount of water just in the first 12 days of April.

Recent wet weather, combined with the seasonal lake level rise due to earlier snowmelt, are causing the Great lakes to rise.

Listen to these numbers - the amount of water each Great Lake has added since April 1.

Lake Superior has risen 0.96". According to Keith Kompoltowitz at the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, a one-inch rise in Lake Superior corresponds to 550 billion gallons of water.

Lake Michigan and Lake Huron are the same lake for water level purposes, since they are connected at the Straits of Mackinac. Lake Michigan/Lake Huron has risen 3.2" in the past 12 days. With that rise in water levels, 2.5 trillion gallons have been added to those two lakes.

Lake Erie is up 3.7" since April 1, meaning it has another 481 billion gallons.

Lake Ontario is almost 10" higher in the past 12 days. Tack on another 1.6 trillion gallons.

If we put all of the water gains together from each lake, the Great Lakes have added 5.1 trillion gallons in the last 12 days.

That's enough water for all 318 million Americans to satisfy our daily total water use for 164 days.

And the stormy pattern doesn't look like it's slowing down.


Well-Known Member
As it becomes more apparent that water really is our most precious resource(after air) more people will resist sharing it. I think it would take an extreme situation for the Great Lake s folks to give up their water. I heard about the Az. National Guard physically preventing California from taking water(opening gates) from the Colorado River. I don't know if that is true or not but but would not surprise me.


Staff member
As it becomes more apparent that water really is our most precious resource(after air) more people will resist sharing it. I think it would take an extreme situation for the Great Lake s folks to give up their water. I heard about the Az. National Guard physically preventing California from taking water(opening gates) from the Colorado River. I don't know if that is true or not but but would not surprise me.

That was in 1939 when Parker Dam was constructed and had to do with the war AZ was having with the Federal Government about getting our own allotment of the river..... it worked, we get the water now - and actually AZ is one of the most efficient states at water conservation - something the other states could learn from...... as a result if our allotment from Lake Mead is cut off we are able to go with it for several years.


How a 1930s water war between California and Arizona delayed Parker Dam
Parker Dam and Lake Havasu on the Colorado River in 1939. In 1922, six of seven states signed the Colorado River Compact. Upset with its allotment, Arizona refused to sign. So when Parker Dam construction began, Arizona sought to block the project.

(U.S. Department of the Interior)
Scott Harrison
"Water war" has for decades been a term used to describe the political battles over water in the West.

But back in the 1930s, a fight between California and Arizona over water actually veered from cold war to hot war — almost.

In 1934, the Metropolitan Water District began construction on Parker Dam, which was opposed by Arizona. The resulting Lake Havasu would feed the new Colorado Aqueduct.

Before, in 1922, six of seven states signed the Colorado River Compact. Upset with its allotment, Arizona refused to sign.

So when Parker Dam construction began, Arizona sought to block the project.

In March 1934, Arizona Gov. Benjamin Moeur called up the Arizona National Guard. Six soldiers arrived in Parker, Ariz., to observe the construction.

National media, including the Los Angeles Times, ridiculed the deployment.

When an Associated Press photo appeared in the March 10, 1934, edition of The Times, the accompanying caption reported:

"Arizona Troops Leave For (Water) Front.

"Without any flare of trumpets or a band playing martial airs, this squad of Arizona National Guardsmen left Phoenix and arrived at Parker yesterday preparatory to patrolling the dam site to prevent 'encroachment' on Arizona's rights by the Metropolitan Water District. Maj. Pomeroy, commanding the detail, is shown on the extreme right."

For the next several months, the troops patrolled the Arizona side of the dam site.

In November, the construction of a trestle bridge from the California side prompted action. On Nov. 10, Moeur declared martial law. He dispatched more than 100 National Guard troops to block construction on Arizona's shore.

U.S. Secretary of the Interior Harold L. Ickes intervened and halted construction. The troops were recalled.

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The resulting legal action led to an April 29, 1935, Supreme Court decision. The April 30, 1935, Los Angeles Times reported:

"Without a dissenting voice, the United States Supreme Court yesterday forced an indefinite suspension of work on Parker Dam by upholding Arizona's right to object and interfere with construction....

"Arizona officials, a dispatch from Phoenix said, hailed the decision as a victory in their battle over the Colorado River, which has been waged for twelve years.

"Gov. Moeur, who last November ordered out the Militia to stop construction, was quoted as saying he was pleased; and he and other State authorities indicated they now intend to let other sides in the controversy make the first move.

"By its far-reaching decision, the Supreme Court virtually justified Gov. Moeur's action in ordering out the troops.

"The decision, written by Justice (Pierce) Butler, assert the dam project never has been authorized by law."

Political compromises were made. Congress passed legislation allowing construction to proceed. Parker Dam was finished in 1938.



Staff member
BTW the plan to bring water from the Great Lakes - was actually passed in the 1950's and then never implemented... too bad because it will never happen today.. that was the Rocky Mountain Trench project... actually involved water from the Columbia River, too....



The North American Water and Power Alliance (NAWAPA) is a project for diverting to the western U.S. and northwestern Mexico water from rivers in Alaska and Canada which now flow into the Arctic Ocean. In addition to providing irrigation water to arid parts of North America NAWAPA would also generate considerable amounts of power and provide some subsidiary benefits such as stabilizing the level of the Great Lakes. The project was formulated by the Los Angeles engineering firm of Ralph M. Parsons Company and got some attention in Congress, particularly from Senator Frank Moss of Utah, but is not politically feasible.

In terms of engineering the project is feasible. A series of dams on the headwaters of the Yukon, Copper, Kootenay, Fraser, Peace, and Columbia Rivers can divert their flows into reservoirs. Included among these is the 500 mile long Rocky Mountain Trench, a natural formation which has 16 times the capacity of Lake Mead on the Colorado River. From the Rocky Mountain Trench the water would flow into Montana and central Idaho. The dams would generate electrical power but not all of it would be marketable. Some of the power would be required to pump the water over some mountains in Idaho to a canal where it would flow south along the border area of Utah and Nevada. Here the water flow would be divided into two branches. One would go southwest to Nevada, California, and northwestern Mexico. The other would go east to Arizona, New Mexico, and Colorado. This is the main element of the project. A subsidiary part would take water from the Peace River by canal to the Great Lakes and thereby link the prairie provinces of Canada with the St. Lawrence Seaway. Other subsidiary elements could link the system to the Pacific Ocean at Vancouver, British Columbia and link Lake Manitoba to the Hudson Bay.


As envisioned by the R. M. Parsons Co. the system would deliver 120 million acre-feet of water annually; 78 million to the U.S., 22 million to Canada, and 20 million to Mexico. According to Parsons this would enable Mexico to triple her irrigated acreage, irrigate an additional 40 million acres in the U.S. and 7 million in Canada. NAWAPA would generate 70 million kilowatts of power; 38 million for the U.S., 30 million for Canada and 2 million for Mexico. Parsons estimates that all this would cost $100 billion in 1964 dollars. In 1989 dollars that would be about $339 billion. The question is whether the project is economically justified.

Parsons estimates that about 85 percent of the water would be sold to agriculture at $4 ($1964) per acre-foot and the other 15 percent to municipal and industrial users at $15 per acre-foot. At 1964 prices that would result in annual benefits of $0.68 billion or, assuming water prices increased at the same rate as general inflation, in 1989 prices $2.3 billion. The annual gross revenue from electrical power was estimated to be $2.45 in 1964 value dollars. Energy prices since 1964 have increased faster than general inflation. Using the Consumer Price Index for gas and electricity the ratio is 4.57 as compared to 3.39 for goods in general. The revenues in 1989 prices would be $11.2 billion per year.

The project is so immense that its construction might be spread over a thirty year period. Here is a reasonable estimate of the costs of the project by five year intervals.
Five Year Operating Construction
Period Years Costs for 5 years Costs
(billions $1989) (billion $1989)
1 1-5 0.0 5.1
2 6-10 0.0 200.1
3 11-15 4.2 33.2
4 16-20 8.5 33.2
5 21-25 8.5 33.2
6 26-30 8.5 33.2
7 31-35 8.5 0.0
8-10 36-60 8.5 0.0
The benefits would follow approximately this schedule:

Five Year
Period Water
Revenue Power
Revenue Other
(billions $1989) (billion $1989) (billion $1989
1 0.0 0.0 0.0
2 4.5 22.0 0.0
3 11.5 56.0 8.5
4-10 11.5 56.0 16.9
Estimation of the IRR of NAWAPA
To obtain the internal rate of return (IRR) for the project one must find an interest rate at which the net present value (NPV) of the net benefits (benefits less the costs) is zero. The procedure for doing this is to first compute the present value of the revenues over a fifty year period at two particular interest rates, say 4 and 5 percent. Then one computes the present value of the costs over that period at the same interest rates. Then one takes the differences of the present values of the benefits and costs to get the NPVs of the net benefits of the project. One can of course take the differences of the benefits and costs first and then compute the NPV directly, but it is often useful to know the present values of the benefits and costs separately.

The present value of the costs, as of 1989, at a discount rate of 4 percent per year is about $234.5 billion, and at 5 percent about $210.6 billion.

The present value of revenues over a fifty year period at 4 percent is $241 billion, so the net present value of NAWAPA at a 4 percent discount rate is (241.4-234.5)=$6.9 billion. At 5 percent the present value of the revenues is $198.2 billion, so the net present value at 5 percent is (198.2-210.6)=−$12.4.

The internal rate of return (IRR) can be approximated by interpolation. When the discount rate increased by 1 percent (from 4 percent to 5 percent) the net present value fell by (6.9+12.4)=19.3. In order to bring the NPV down from 6.9 to 0 it is necessary to increase the discount rate by (6.9/19.3)x1 percent; i.e. by 0.36 of 1 percent. Therefore the IRR for NAWAPA is approximately 4.36 percent.

In the computations it is convenient to use the formula for the present value at an annual interest rate of r of a constant stream of Y dollars per year starting in year T1 and ending in year T2. The stream for a particular year is discounted from the end of that year.

The definition of the present value of that stream is

If this equation is multiplied by 1/(1+r) the result is

If this equation is then subtracted from the previous equation all terms on the right-hand side cancel out except the first term of the first equation and the last term of the second equation. The result is then

If this equation is multiplied by (1+r) the result is which reduces to

Thus the formula is or, equivalently

Present Values of Costs and Revenues of NAWAPA at 4 percent

In the computations below the amount for a five-year period is assumed to be evenly spread over the five years so the annual amount is just the five-year amount divided by 5.



Staff member
North American Water and Power Alliance
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Map of the NAWAPA project (right), as compared with the GRAND, a continental water management scheme of similar scale
The North American Water and Power Alliance (NAWPA or NAWAPA, also referred to as NAWAPTA from proposed governing body the North American Water and Power Treaty Authority) is a proposed continental water management scheme conceived in the 1950s by the US Army Corps of Engineers. The planners envisioned diverting water from some rivers in Alaska south through Canada via the Rocky Mountain Trench and other routes to the US and would involve 369 separate construction projects. The water would enter the US in northern Montana. There it would be diverted to the headwaters of rivers such as the Colorado River and the Yellowstone River. Implementation of NAWAPA has not been seriously considered since the 1970s, due to the array of environmental, economic and diplomatic issues raised by the proposal.[1][2] Western historian William deBuys wrote that "NAWAPA died a victim of its own grandiosity."[2]

The plan
A technical and economic blueprint for the plan was developed in 1964 by the Parsons Corporation of Pasadena, California.[3] The total cost was estimated in 1975 as $100 billion, comparable in cost to the Interstate Highway System.[4][5]

Water management
The Parsons plan would divert water from the Yukon, Liard and Peace River systems into the southern half of the Rocky Mountain Trench which would be dammed into a massive, 500 mi (805 km)-long reservoir. Some of the water would be sent east across central Canada to form a navigable waterway connecting Alberta to the Great Lakes with the additional benefit of stabilizing the Great Lakes' water level. The rest of the water would enter the United States in northern Montana, providing additional flow to the Columbia and MissouriMississippi river systems, and would be pumped over the Rocky Mountains via the Sawtooth Lifts in Idaho. From there, it would run south via aqueducts to the Colorado River and Rio Grande systems. Some of this water would be sent around the southern end of the Rockies in New Mexico and pumped north to the High Plains, stabilizing the Ogallala Aquifer. The increased flow of the Colorado River, meanwhile, would enter Mexico, allowing for greater development of agriculture in Baja California and Sonora.[1][6]

The project would provide 75 million acre feet (93 km3) of water to water-deficient areas in the North American continent,[7] including Canada and the United States, as well as irrigation water for Mexico, which Parsons claimed would receive enough water to reclaim 7 or 8 times more land than Egypt reclaimed with the Aswan High Dam.[8] It would provide increased water flow in the upper Missouri and Mississippi rivers during periods of low flow, increased hydropower generation along the Columbia River, and stabilize water levels in the Great Lakes.[9] Parsons originally proposed using peaceful nuclear explosions to excavate trenches and underground water storage reservoirs for the system.[10]

Power generation
The project would generate a vast amount of electricity from a number of hydroelectric and nuclear power facilities (the latter of which would be required to power the multiple pumping stations needed to move the water across the continent).[1] The issue of electricity generation has created some controversy, with some commentators such as Marc Reisner arguing that the plan would be a net consumer of energy, while others estimate a net gain of 60 to 80 million kilowatts after meeting the needs for pumping.[7]

The plan would potentially have included a navigable waterway in Canada from Alberta to Lake Superior, to be called the Transcontinental Canal. In addition to increasing availability of water, the canal would address problems of water pollution.[7]


Staff member
Environmental impacts
The engineering of the project and the creation of a large number of new reservoirs — many of them in designated wilderness areas — would have destroyed vast areas of wildlife habitat in Canada and the American West and would have required the relocation of hundreds of thousands of people — including the entire city of Prince George, British Columbia.[1] A number of federally designated Wild and Scenic Rivers in Idaho and Montana would be submerged under reservoirs, including the Salmon, Lochsa, Clearwater, Yellowstone and Big Hole.[1] The amount of electricity required to pump the water over the Rockies would require the construction of as many as six nuclear power plants.[1] Significant negative consequences were also predicted for Pacific salmon runs in the many Alaskan and Canadian rivers that would be dammed and diverted, reducing their flows. Luna Leopold, a conservationist and professor of hydrology at the University of California, Berkeley said of NAWAPA, "The environmental damage that would be caused by that damned thing can't even be described. It would cause as much harm as all of the dam-building we have done in a hundred years."[1]

NAWAPA garnered early support from some Western political figures, who viewed its promise of increased water supplies as key to continued growth in the Western United States. In 1966, Congressman Jim Wright, in his book, The Coming Water Famine, wrote that "NAWAPA has an almost limitless potential if we possess the courage and the foresight to grasp it."[11] In 1967, Senator Frank Moss of Utah wrote The Water Crisis, in which he called NAWAPA the most comprehensive water diversion proposal to solve supply and pollution problems.[12] (Moss was later hired by the Parsons Corporation and retained as a lobbyist.[1]) Los Angeles County Supervisor Mike Antonovich called for Los Angeles to back the plan. The Corps of Engineers studied this project in the 1950s and 1960s, but no official proposal was ever developed.[1] Canadian Prime Minister Lester Pearson was quoted in 1966 saying of the plan that “This can be one of the most important developments in our history."[13]

In the 1970s, the plan began to encounter fierce opposition by a number of different groups on both sides of the border, based on concerns with its financial and environmental costs and the international implications of exporting Canadian water. The environmental movement, which viewed the plan as the "hydrologic anti-Christ,"[14] gained momentum in the early 1970s, and is credited with playing a major role in halting the project.[2][15] After initially expressing support for NAWAPA as Interior Secretary in the 1960s, Stewart Udall publicly ridiculed the plan after leaving office.[1][16] The project was opposed by public sentiment in Canada,[1] though Canadian financier Simon Reisman, who negotiated the Free Trade Agreement, the precursor to the North American Free Trade Agreement, was one of its backers and main promoters. Nonetheless, the Canadian position on free trade exempted water exports, in part specifically to pre-empt any attempted completion of Reisman's long-time pet project.[citation needed] The NAWAPA Foundation, which Parsons had founded to promote the scheme, closed its doors in 1990.[17]

Environmental writer Marc Reisner noted in Cadillac Desert that the plan was one of "brutal magnificence" and "unprecedented destructiveness."[1] Historian Ted Steinberg suggested that NAWAPA summed up "the sheer arrogance and imperial ambitions of the modern hydraulic West" and credited rising costs and the rise of the environmental movement with killing the idea.[15] One author called it "the most outlandish water development scheme to emerge in the past 50 years"[18]

Beginning in 1982, some efforts were made to revive the plan, including by Parsons engineer Roland Kelley, who authored a report called NAWAPA Plan Can Work.[19] Lyndon LaRouche and the LaRouche movement are currently vocal supporters of the project, making efforts to revive NAWAPA in 1982 and again in 2010.[2][20]


Staff member
This story is interesting to because I have a friend in IL who get very emotional over the very idea of this -- yet more and more people from the East keep moving out of the mess their states are to the West and we need a lot more water in the West as a result - something has to give at some point..


Droughts and the Great Lakes: When dry regions get thirsty enough ...
Tribune Graphics
Editorial Board
What if California and other dry states demand that Washington give them Great Lakes water?
The impending retirements of baby boomers will only exacerbate the number of Americans moving south and west. It's not difficult to imagine the day when tremendous political pressure, perhaps driven by a killer drought, will demand that the Great Lakes be viewed not as a regional resource, but as a national one.

—Tribune editorial, July 10, 2005

Barely two years after we wrote those words, a Democratic candidate for president made his move. New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson suggested that Great Lakes water be piped to the rapidly growing and increasingly dry Southwest: “States like Wisconsin are awash in water.”

Swift protests from the Upper Midwest persuaded Richardson to abandon his idea. But what about today, or tomorrow? With drought dehydrating the West, climate change warming our atmosphere and fears of polluted and radium-laced groundwater rising, will those or other crises confront the Great Lakes region with demands from parched pirates?

Richardson, recall, was one in a long bucket line of big thinkers with big plans for lakes that hold 21 percent of Earth’s surface fresh water: In 1988, Illinois Gov. James Thompson proposed tapping the lakes to lubricate barge traffic on the Mississippi River. In 1998, an Ontario firm briefly secured a permit from that province’s Ministry of Environment to annually ship 160 million gallons of Lake Superior water via tankers to Asia. And in 2007, drought had officials from Alabama to the Carolinas licking their dry lips at the prospect of pirating Yankee water.

Today California, confronting its fourth year of drought with a mandated 25 percent cut in urban water use, is a logical supplicant, but not the only. When Jerry Brown said on April 1 that “This historic drought demands unprecedented action,” other governors surely nodded: A 2013 survey by the U.S. Government Accountability Office found 40 states expecting water shortages over the next decade under “average” population shifts, economic growth and weather. Imagine the future need for water in Texas, where the state Water Development Board anticipates population to grow by 80 percent over the next 50 years.


Scott Stantis, Chicago Tribune
Can the Midwest repel demands from afar for its water? The eight states (Illinois included) and two Canadian provinces that border the lakes hope no outsiders can breach the invisible, 5,500-mile wall they’ve erected: In 2008, President George W. Bush signed into law — let us draw a breath — the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Basin Water Resources Compact. All eight states and Congress approved the compact, with the Canadians applauding. It’s intended to severely, although not absolutely, block new diversions of water outside the Great Lakes’ vast drainage basin (see accompanying map). A 1909 U.S. treaty with Canada also could thwart big diversions.

Whatever protection Washington giveth to any of us, of course, Washington conceivably can taketh away. Congress typically doesn’t meddle with regional water compacts. But yesterday isn’t forever: The steady erosion of U.S. House seats from Illinois and other Northern states to the Sunbelt invites peril if droughts punish those states. And the Chicagoan sworn to protect Lake Michigan may, um, evolve if arid Arizona tries to conserve water by outlawing construction of her dream retirement condo.

We hope the compact survives any challenges. If water truly is the new oil, Illinois and its neighbors could see their most valuable resource lure expat businesses and citizens back to the Midwest.

But a federal government excited by some emergency often can do as it wishes. So the compact is sacrosanct ... unless it isn’t. Be wary when anyone promises that if you like your Great Lakes water, you can keep your Great Lakes water.

Yes, there’s hypocrisy for Chicagoans: This city reversed a river’s flow so Lake Michigan water would wash away its wastes. And many suburbs that draw from the lake sit outside its watershed; rain that falls on them flows to the Gulf of Mexico via the Illinois and Mississippi rivers. One mitigating factor is that water diversions in Ontario put more water into the lakes than Chicago flushes out.

The compact doesn’t cruelly forbid emergency outflows. David Naftzger, executive director of the Chicago-based Council of Great Lakes Governors, tells us it permits short-term humanitarian diversions if, say, a hurricane ravages water systems in Southeastern states.

The economics of trucking likely would limit any such transfer. But we don’t doubt that some future technology may make transfers affordable — an adjective defined by the severity of an emergency. Last week the Detroit Free Press recalled a 1980s plan to pipe Lake Superior water to Wyoming, where it would be laced with semi-liquefied coal and piped back to the Midwest. And in 1982, the Free Press recounted, “Congress mandated that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers study the feasibility of using Great Lakes water to replenish supplies needed for the heavily agricultural Plains states. (It wasn’t feasible.)” To which we would add: not feasible then or even now, but if science revolutionizes liquid transport the way fracking revolutionized oil and gas drilling ...

So for all the assurance the compact provides, we’ll advocate other protections, too: The wrong time to think about conserving water, or improving its quality, is when supplies of it dwindle. Californians haven’t conserved for the reason Midwesterners haven’t: Until now, nothing forced them, or us, to conserve.

Which delivers us to this conundrum: Is the lust of dry regions the greatest threat to our abundant supply of fresh water? Or is it the caprice with which we waste, and pollute, so much of that water?


Well-Known Member
I've thought and been saying for years that the population growth of my state (Utah) will eventually be constrained by the water available to support that growth. The technology is known that will make water use way more efficient, but so far we haven't come together on implementing the technology on a major basis. Arizona seems to have 'seen the light.' The other western states - not so much.


Wow, it's a good thing lake Ontario goes over the falls into lake Erie. I lived in Rochester in 69, Niagra Falls is breath-taking.


You are correct. I got to thinking about that later. I must have had vertigo. It was 47 years ago after all.
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