NAWAPA: Wells or FDR - Rolf A. F. Witzsche - Aug. 2010

Water transfer is a question centered on volume and elevation 

Elevation map from National Geophysical Data Center, NOAA



It is a question of Dynamics.


NAWAPA is a project that, when constructed, will break all records. (See an interactive map of it)

1. It will created the longest and highest manmade river in history, stretching from Alaska to Mexico, and from the Great Lakes to the Pacific.

2. The river will begin at the largest manmade lake in history, the largest by far (4.4 billion acre feet). The lake will be created on top of a high plateau of permafrost. It will be held back by a giant dam, built near the edge of the plateau. The dam itself will be just a few feet short of double the height of the great pyramid in Egypt. It will be among the tallest structures in the world, and not just free standing. It will be  holding back a wall of water 900 feet high. And it will be constructed in a country that is frozen 7 months of the year, with temperatures dipping down into -40 to -60 degree range. When the dam is completed, it will be the second-greatest construction achievement of all times, superceded only by its sister dam, a dam standing 1,700 feet tall, at the edge of another plateau, holding back this time a 1,700 foot high wall of water.

3. The NAWAPA collection dams and reservoirs will no doubt win the price for sheer daring, as they are to be located in one of the world's most active earthquake zones.

Seismicity of Alaska: 1975 - 1995

The area behind the proposed 1,700 foot high dam, the Copper River basin, was one a lake that has drained away and became covered over with permafrost. It is unknown, or even unknowable, what the strata is like below the permafrost and what effect the immense hydraulic pressure of the super-deep reservoir will have on the substructure once the permafrost melts, considering that deep earthquake fractures have occurred in this area in the recent timeframe.

4. The NAWAPA plan also wins the price for reversing the historic precedent in nation building on the railroad principle (the most efficient transportation mode there is). The USA was born as an efficient nation by its transcontinental railways, uniting the country economically from the Pacific to the Atlantic. The NAWAPA plan wins the price as the first infrastructure project in history that would be cutting an established nation in half. Canada's economic environment is concentrated in the lower 300-mile band across the country east to West. The Rocky Mountains have stood as formidable barrier in the past, but they have been successfully crossed. Now the NAWAPA project aims to erect an even tougher barrier cutting across Canada's economic zone. Nothing of this sort, on the scale planned, has been attempted before.

5. The NAWAPA plan also wins the price for insult - insult to Mexico. Out of 160 MAF/yr for the entire system, Mexico, which has the greatest need and had its richest agricultural area taken from it by means of clever annexation, in various forms, by the USA (Arizona, California, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, Utah, Florida, Louisiana,  and western Colorado, annexed prior and after the U.S. Mexican War, 1846-48),  is being allocated a mere 14 MAF/yr or 8%. This is an insult when one considers that a whopping 22 MAF/yr are allocated to power a shipping canal across the Canadian prairies to extend seaway traffic from the Great Lakes to the Pacific (which nobody needs in the age of efficient railways, and which would be frozen up over for half a year). The way Mexico is allocated but a crumb from the master's table is not the mark of a continental development plan, but reflects still the old lingering master-to-slave type of relationship.

6. The gigantic Yukon River Reservoir also has the potential effect of putting a lid onto an as-yet unexplored mineral resource area. For a hundred years the area's rivers and creeks have been dredged for gold, with large volumes extracted thereby. While the dredging has been shut down, we don't know yet what resources lay below the surface buried in the permafrost. The particular area were the great reservoir is to be built (the Klondike area) is a part of the tectonic collision zone where the Alaskan plate is deemed to have collided with the North American plate after sweeping across a large stretch of the Pacific during what is called the rapid shock-dynamics displacement of the continental plates following a very large meteor impact near today's Madagascar. Alaska became a 'attached' to the continent by this process that may have been the reason for its rich mineral resource, (see "Alaska").

While gold is not a big factor, the process of locking up potential resources is a big factor. It becomes an effective way to block potential resources (known or suspected) from future utilization. The process is routinely used to lock up economic resources into park lands, or to flood the location, or to dedicate it to unproductive uses.  The NAWAPA plans includes a lot of flooding for very little in return (less than 2 inches of water per year for the total dry area of the western USA and Mexico). It is also enormously committed to hydro-electric power development, as for example the snake river complex of dams that is proposed under the plan, designed to produce 23 GW of power with the use of high-elevation water resources, to pump up the imported river to still higher ground to get it across the mountains. The Snake River resources would thereby become locked up, and become unavailable for irrigation purposes in the surrounding high-elevation areas. (Note: The Snake River power proposal has been has been scrapped two days after this report was published. The new proposal is to use nuclear power to power the pump lift, which could be accomplished with 23 nuclear power plants of 1 GW each, which are are much more easily constructed.)

This very commitment (that had been central to the NAWAPA plan) a commitment to the locking up of water resources for running 'waterwheel games' (hydro-electric power development) has already defeated the original NAWAPA plan itself, to a large degree. Of the planned 160 MAF/yr of divertible water resources, 50 MAF/yr have already been taken out of the available resources pool, when it became committed to the giant Peace River hydro-electric power generation, a three-dam complex. The NAWAPA plan lost a third of its resource that way, inflicted by the very mythology that it promotes itself. If the evaporation and leakage is subtracted that occurs across the more than three thousand miles of reservoirs and open aqueducts, less than 100 MAF/yr will likely be available, of which Mexico would most likely not see a single drop.

7. The NAWAPA plan is a harsh plan by design, also for reasons of its long construction cycle. The project is designed to yield no end product during most of its extremely long construction period (30-50 years). Until all of the construction along the way is essentially completed, nothing can be expected at the destination. And when the system is completed and operational, the output of the system is not expandable. It is designed as fixed-capacity system, with a capacity that is already too small, and doesn't have the input resources for even that.  It would be far off the mark to meeting the needs in 50 years time when it begins operation.

All-in-all, the NAWAPA plan incorporates a great many key-features that are of a type that would make H. G. Wells smile (only 7 are listed above). With all that considered, the project might qualify for the (hypothetical) "Wells Price for Excellence in Fabianism."

What the 1960s plan represents, needs to be compared with what a Franklin Delanor Rooseveltian NAWAPA plan might look like. It would be designed to uplift the whole of mankind with the USA playing a leading role.

The FDR NAWAPA would start perhaps with a small plan of bringing the outflow of the Columbia River into southern California and northern Mexico via a submerged 'pipeline' (water flowing in water with minimal separation, made of glass fibers or basalt fibers, delivering an average capacity of 194 MAF/yr (The Columbia outflow), and expandable, motivated and distributed by pipelines on land with nuclear power driving the distribution pipeline network. 

The Mojave Desert would bloom in five years with an FDR-type NAWAPA, and all of Mexico with it. And long before this capacity was used, as soon as the relevant technologies were fully developed, FDR would have a world system organized with the cooperation of all nations of the world, that the USA and Mexico would also benefit from. From then on there would be no limits encountered for the development dynamics. (See image below) 

Not even the sky would pose a limit them. FDR would have a mission for NASA with a vast potential, which would be to explore the means for mankind to become connected into the galactic electric power resource that surrounds our planet and powers the sun. Before long then, the term NAWAPA would signify to everyone: infinite electric power. FDR wouldn't have to sell NAWAPA on this platform. He would only have to enable the financial credits to be issued worldwide, to have the project done. He wouldn't even have to mention the Ice Age potential by then, because it would be fairly obvious then, that with infrastructures on this infinite scale and with a universal scope, the Ice Age wouldn't pose much of a challenge whenever it came.

Lyndon LaRouche sees the original 1960s NAWAPA plan in terms of its mission orientation. Referring to the project itself, he states. "It is not a practical project, but rather essential for the survival of human civilization for many generations to come." (See LPAC-Infrastructure)

Rolf A. F. Witzsche

Main articles:

NAWAPA: Existentially Critical

The New NAWAPA - part 1 - greening the deserts

The New NAWAPA - part 2 - infrastructures for the Noosphere

Related articles: 

NAWAPA - an exploration of the 1960s plan

A NAWAPA dialog - how to raise it to a higher level?

NAWAPA: Wells or FDR - contrasting orientations

Towards a FDR NAWAPA - how would Franklin Delanor Roosevelt have responded to the challenge?

Related supporting articles: 

Infrastructures  - what increases the power of humanity

Advanced Infrastructures - the power at hand to snub the Ice Age

Ice Age Collapse - a challenge to mankind to raise its humanist power

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An example of an FDR type NAWAPA system, superimposed onto a NASA satellite composite image


Published by Cygni Communications Ltd. North Vancouver, BC, Canada - 2010  Rolf A. F. Witzsche

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