California Needs Alaskan Water?

A proposal to ship millions of gallons of water to California was recently in the news. This idea has been brought up a few years ago, but now, Janice Hahn D. of California arranged an “exploratory” meeting with Alaska Bulk Water CEO, Terry Trapp, and other CA. representatives on taking water from Blue Lake in Sitka, Alaska.
Formerly known as True Alaska Bottling Company, Alaska Bulk Water has been shipping water as far back as 2002. In 2006, they acquired more extensive water rights, and in 2008 the company “split” into its current name and True Alaskan Water: their bottled water division. While it might seem like they are very ambitious, they are not alone. Canada, Japan, and some other U.S. States have purchased water rights permits in Alaska.
Considering that each permit can be for millions of dollars, it is no wonder why this particular type of export is so enticing. Pipes are being built for municipalities and to bottling facilities by private companies. Alaska Bulk Water will charge 6 cents per gallon, and they can export up to 9 billion gallons a year.
At first this drought looks like a great investment opportunity, but it is really as if we are spreading the drought around. When you look at the U.S. Drought Monitor, there are some patches in Alaska that are classified as “abnormally dry”. I guess its is OK to rob Peter to pay Paul, but Paul is really bad with money and blows it all at the gumball machine. For example, look up current pictures of mansions in California. They all have super green lawns and just on the other side of their property line, the California drought is shaking its dry, brown fist at them.
Something has to be done and everyone knows it. Desalination facilities are already being built, but that is not really as effective as it sounds:

  • First, the technology is expensive and while it is slowly getting better, it is not entirely adequate for large scale needs.
  • Second, it consumes more energy than a waste water treatment plant. They are costly to operate and maintain.
  • Third, what are they going to do with all that extra salt and brine? It cant go back into the ocean. Just ask anyone with a saltwater aquarium what would happen if they just dumped a bunch of salt into their tank.

There has to be a balance: upsetting the equilibrium in one place to compensate an imbalance in another is foolish. There is no replacement for responsibility and good stewardship. California has enough water, just look at the lawns and golf courses.

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