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With California enduring record-setting drought, is it time to revive Hickel's water pipeline dream?

  • Author: Megan Edge
  • Updated: September 28, 2016
  • Published February 27, 2015

Alaska is "weeping snowmelt" while California is in the midst of the worst drought in the state's history, a recent Wired article notes. So why not just send Alaska's resource to the West Coast and splash in the profits?

Because building a pipeline to pump water from the Last Frontier to the Golden State would cost a lot of money.

In 1991, not long after Alaska Governor Wally Hickel first began pitching such idea, a California engineering firm estimated such a pipeline would cost $110 billion and take 15 years to build.

Such a pipeline would run at least 1,400 miles from Southeast Alaska to a California reservoir, and be able to move 1.3 trillion gallons of water every year, with pumping stations every 150 miles, Wired wrote.

But it's not even on an option on the table for the California Department of Resources according to a recent interview between the department and Wired.

Wired calls the idea "still crazy" and said the cost would be too high, as much of the water would go towards agriculture. But it also mentions the possible affect a pipeline could have on Alaska fisheries, and even raises the question of what could happen if our unofficial state bird -- the mosquito -- makes it into the pipeline.

"What kind of health risks would we face if the larvae from Alaska's Jurassic-sized mosquito snuck into the pipe?" Wired asked.

So, for now, the idea is off the table -- again.

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