Economic Recovery With Water Transmission


Introduction: Economic Recovery With Water Transmission

This is more of an off the wall idea instead of an instructable. I have had this idea for a while and was relying on the expertise of the members of instructables to comment on the merit or downfall of such an idea. The idea is simply comparing our electric grid to a water grid. and like an electrical transmission system transmit water needed parts of the country or reservoirs to save the water using existing creeks and streams.  

Step 1: The Electric Grid

The picture shows our electric grid where energy can be transferred from one end of the country to another through the grid. Of course water does not move at the speed of electricity so there is no comparison there but the United States has a transmission system for water built in. Some river are like a high voltage transmission line capable of carrying large volumes of water. Some rivers and streams  can only handle a fraction of the larger volumes. Our electric grid could be controlled using groups of SCADA (Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition Systems) to monitor, control and move electricity throughout the country. THE USGS already has a seriest of flood control monitors and possibly SCADA systems already in place.

Picture from grid

Step 2: SCADA Control

The USGS again already monitors water and flood levels in the US. The idea I had was on a grander scale if not already complete. As with the electric grid, electricity can be moved around outages and distributed where needed by controlling switches and other devices. Imagine then a central station that through SCADA could turn on a series of pumps moving water through its own transmission lines as locations crest. 

Pictures from  San Partrico water district. 

Step 3: Water Transmission

In the image you see the river map of the US and like our electric grid there are many means for water to travel. The trick would be to find strategic locations for the installation of pumps, sluices or stations to move water from smaller streams to larger rivers and transmit the water like the electric grid. For example n Georgia we put 200 MW of electricity on the grid and in California they take 200 MW off the grid. The grid has an established transmission lines and the thought was we could use our existing water system to accomplish much the same thing. 

Step 4: My Lousy Drawing

I tried to illustrate how I thought this would work. Imagine we had flooding on the Ohio river and we had pumps and a channel in place to start moving water and we started moving water say 2000 gallons and pumped into the Mississippi river. Either automatically or through SCADA manual control an operator would begin the removal of 2000 gallons from the Mississippi to the Tennessee and subsequently water could be moved to Georgia, Tennessee, Alabama etc. So again we could simultaneously remove flood water as it is pumped moving the flood water to protect cities and distribute to where it may be needed. The system could be set up to automatically do this or be controlled much like an energy trader would move the water to those who may pay a premium to get it. 

There is of course a lot not shown or covered here. When you transmit electricity there are losses from resistance in the wire, wire length etc. In Water you would have the same thing including time, the size and capacity of the channel/stream as the water travels so as you pump 2000 gallons you may have to wait to begin removing the 2000 gal based on some set standards for water flow. Also is the size of the pumps, throughput, velocity, etc. In the picture below you would also notice that the flood areas are probably beginning way up river thus to remove the flood water you larger transmission pumps/Channels/and sluices would be on that end and smaller branches and tributaries would distribute to other parts of the country. The smaller branches having smaller capacity thus having small reservoirs or catch basins. Once capacity is met other stations will have to meet the need. 

Step 5: The COST

Obviously for something like this to work would be the cost. Such an ambitious plan would require countrywide cooperation. In the next part I wanted to pint out some of the savings part of such and idea. 

Step 6: Cost of Floods

Last year alone, the program paid $709 million in flood insurance claims to home and business owners.

in the United States, the average annual cost of flood damage is more than $2 billion. Each year about 100 people lose their lives to floods.

So if we can control the floods and redistribute the water this would represent the a savings of $2 billion a year and save homes. 

Step 7: Cost of Drought

Average annual costs and losses in the United States due to drought are estimated at $6 to $8 billion.

Images Drought

Step 8: COST Continued

So the savings alone could justify paying for such a system 

I will not even estimate because I cant to it justice but an idea comes from where a low cost system is suggested from the late 1990's and 2000. The cost would be a lot higher today. 

The pump systems will cost a lot more. One station costs $500 Million as a part of the Louisiana levee system which is expected to cost $14 Billion when complete. 

Not to mention the labor for a US wide plan. This idea could put a lot of people to work and in an economy like today its real difficult to think of spending desperately needed money so the idea I put to you. Is this too ambitious and costly and idea. Could we have a system to distribute water throughout the US. Would such do little to solve the problems we already have or just a drop in the bucket. 



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    14 Discussions

    It is surely possible for the FED to impliment something like this with the billions being spent on wars to kill people...

    Good on you for putting the work into such an idea. I trust you are spreading it further than here, passing the link onto environmental blogs, senators etc?

    To add a pessimistic note, though, I don't think you have allowed enough for differences in altitude - many of the drier areas in the US are well above the wetter areas.

    Plus, you will need a lot of legislation, crossing counties, states and the areas that water companies operate in. Good luck.

    8 replies

    I did send this idea to the white house and my senators but they are much do involved spending tax money than for discussion. This is why I took the idea to professionals like you guys.

    I did not add the legislation part but I think on water in the US is controlled on the Federal level. I was thinking just as there are energy traders there would be water traders possibly working for states and municipalities. The cost of the water transmission system like pumps, reservoirs and channels would be combined through Federal, State and local levels and job creation on all those levels.

    For example the States or maybe private business that installs the high flow pump station for flood control would be the one who could sale water to states that need it at a premium to get a return on their investment. Some states that need water may make a considerable investment in such a system to secure water resources for themselves. If such an idea took place I would hope we could come to an amicable solution by fighting floods and drought at the same time.

    The right way to do things is to have consumers where the water is. Screwing up the entire eco-system by redistributing billions of tonnes of water is not. Had you thought about what happens when you take a whole load of water away from somewhere?


    Ecology is important. I was thinking of using interconnected creeks and streams. Flooding and the flooding of tributaries is the natural part of things. I was imagining using these interconnected channels to redistribute the flood water. Say for example you could move water through a sluice or pump to a near by stream say for example from the Ohio to the Mississippi say for example 2000 gallons of water. Then remove 2000 gallons from the Mississippi to the Tennessee. There could be catch basins or screens to prevent some fish from moving through. I imagined that since we were using interconnected streams creeks etc that you were simply moving the existing water and possibly some of the sediment.

    What happens when icebergs drift away? or glaciers melt. Or levees, sand bags to divert water not to mention storm drains, the effect on the water table. There is a lot to consider. In Georgia there is a water debate because water is being held in lakes and not enough is sent down stream to Alabama and Florida. The mussels were not getting enough water. The thought was maybe water could be redistributed from flooding areas to areas where it was needed and from the nearby source. I don't know the effect of moving water from one tributary to another.

    Rivers cut into the landscape and some produce oxbow lakes as the meander. Flooding moves that water around and floods the side streams too. The goal was really a timed control of the flow of water using synchronized pumping. A controlled flood if you will. Indeed the environment is important.

    Water flows with the geography, and flowing water shapes geography, and that includes flood-plains.
    2000 gal. is nothing, but what happens to the fish if you deprive them of it? The mussels were not getting enough water
    - Don't screw with your natural resources, adapt to what you have. (want of things can be destructive, especially if needs are mis-placed)


    How would you deprive fish with an overabundance of water? Remember its a flood. 2000 gallons of water is nothing as its is an example. As far as messing with natural resources is concerned what do you think dams, reservoirs, storm drains ,a even downspouts on you house does. It controls water and whether that water flows of your roof and down the street into a storm drain or you control a flood using the natural creeks and streams the effect is the same.

    "We have a "be nice" comment policy. Please be positive and constructive with your comments or risk being banned from our site." I wonder if this policy applies to you.

    Don't antagonise me, I am being serious.

    Floods are not  a good source of (piped) water for many reasons, which I can explain if you're interested. And flooding is a natural thing which affects habitats.
    Dams, reservoirs, storm drains and even downspouts property are messing with natural resources - Tarmac and concrete don't allow water to do it's natural thing, such as soaking into the ground or following a natural water-course.

    You give yourself away with "It controls water" - you are a person who wants to control the natural environment. If people are short (in the US) you'd prefer to "find them some more" rather than have them manage with what's available - yes?


    "Don't antagonise me, I am being serious"

    I am justr as serious. Why not explain. I have not mentioned tarmac or concrete in this. Using the existing creeks and tributaries as a channel seems pretty natural to me. I went over to the forum and suggested something and you followed me there. Find something creative things to do with your time and don't antagonize me. There is a be nice policy here but for my part you have pushed me over the limit.

    I'm sorry that I pushed you beyond your "red-line", I was enjoying the discussion.


    Also, the mechanics of it aren't exactly sound.

    Electricity is on/off contact/nocontact.

    Water leaks and corrodes.


    1 reply

    I was thinking of using existing streams and creeks as the channels for moving water with some improvements. The SCADA transducers and water level scales should be water proof. I know I wasn't clear enough in my comparison with electricity transmission and water transmission. There would have to be some infrastructure changes to make these channels safe.

    Thank you for your input.