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.
Teachers! Did you use this instructable in your classroom?
Add a Teacher Note to share how you incorporated it into your lesson.
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 http://www.geni.org/globalenergy/library/national_energy_grid/united-states-of-america/americannationalelectricitygrid.shtml 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.
http://sanpatwater.com/SCADA.php 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.
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 http://www.stoneflytech.com/assets/32/Low_Cost_Canal_Automation_and_SCADA.pdf 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.
Participated in the
Green Living & Technology Challenge