A 100-foot-wide water line to California? Juneau entrepreneur envisions a moneymaker

KETCHIKAN — A Juneau entrepreneur is asking the state to approve his plan to collect fresh water south of Ketchikan and transport it to drought-stricken California.

Steven Bowhay's application to the Alaska Department of Natural Resources, which he filed four years ago, has gone through two public comment periods. The second ended Wednesday, the Ketchikan Daily News reported.

Under Bowhay's River Recycler System plan, a system of buoys, anchors and sheeting would be deployed to trap fresh water on the ocean surface in Boca de Quadra, an inlet between the Ketchikan and the Canadian border. The project would be spread across more than 6 million square feet.

Bowhay said he ultimately envisions a submersible, 100-foot-wide pipeline that would move fresh water between Southeast Alaska and California.

"(The system) uses gravity and floatation to create energy to generate electricity to purify water to drinking water standards," he said. "You don't have to dig any holes or do any filling."

The late Alaska Gov. Wally Hickel proposed creating a water pipeline to California in 1991 but was widely ridiculed for the idea.

Bowhay considers his plan as a solution to the impacts of drought and climate change on the West Coast. He said he has recently been in discussions with Gov. Bill Walker and Juneau Republican Rep. Cathy Munoz as well as California water authorities and energy producers.

Bowhay is looking to get the ball rolling on the project and said he is frustrated that the department has not yet decided on his application.

Rob Edwardson, regional manager for the Southeast Region of the Division of Mining, Land and Water, said the delay is due to a backlog of applications, but "we're whittling it down."