Our latest feature story on our website EcoWorld, “India’s Water Future,” describes a proposal currently being debated in India to link their major rivers in order to move vast quantities of water from the water-rich north and east to the arid west and south of that country.
Well it isn’t as if it hasn’t been done before. In Europe rivers are so interlinked you can sail nonstop on a river from the North Sea to the Mediterranean Sea, or the Black Sea, or even to the Caspian Sea. In California pipelines and aquaducts move nearly 50 cubic kilometers of river water per year from the northern and and eastern mountains to cities to the south and west.
Even lifting water isn’t as big a problem as some might think. Heck, if some nations use energy to actually distill fresh water from salt water – either by having to boil it or vaporizing it in an artificial vacuum – then pumping water uphill can’t be that hard. For example, as a rule of thumb, for about 100 megawatt-years you can lift a cubic kilometer of water 250 meters. That’s a lot of water and a pretty good sized hill.
India probably won’t build every canal proposed in their interlinking plan, but one of them, the canal linking the Ken River to the Betwa River, is nearing construction.
It may not be practical to build more than a few of the canals being proposed in India, and any mega-solutions of this type should come alongside revitalization of of traditional water conservation means; constructing contour berms to percolate water to refill aquifers, rebuilding cisterns and tanks and otherwise harvesting runoff, and reforesting hillsides and restoring topsoil to increase absorption of rainfall.
Everywhere where irrigation has been brought, per capita income dramatically improves. Water, wealth, contentment, health. Read” Arctic to Aral – Siberian Rivers Save the Aral Sea.”