Saturday, August 3, 2013

History Lesson: The Texas Water Boondoggle of 1968


The more things change, the more they stay the same:
Politicians and engineers have long come up with grandiose plans for moving water from one place to another....[including]...Texas' biggest water boondoggle to date – the 1968 Water Plan.
They were ambitious:
The 1968 plan involved developing an astounding supply of water- enough to submerge Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Rhode Island and the District of Columbia to a depth of one foot (with some left over).  The key features of the plan included a canal that would have tapped the Mississippi River below New Orleans, bringing 12 to 13 million acre - feet (one acre - foot is 325,851gallons of water) hundreds of miles to Texas.
Get this:
Once in Texas, the Mississippi River would enter two cement - lined aqueducts called the Coastal Canal and the Trans-Texas Canal. These canals were to snake 1,200 miles across the northern and southern portions of Texas.
 Making matters better:
The second canal, the Trans-Texas, would have transported the Mississippi River water to northeast Texas, then uphill to Lubbock, with one spur veering off to New Mexico and another to the Trans-Pecos and the El Paso. The water would be pumped uphill more than 4,000 feet from the Mississippi River to Lubbock to meet the irrigation needs of the Texas High Plains....To pump the water to its final destination, the project would have required 7 million kilo-watts of electricity – more than a third of the generating capacity in Texas at the time.
 Also, a giant land grab:
In addition to the canals, 62 new reservoirs, mostly in East Texas, would have been constructed to capture another 4 million acre-feet of water for eventual shipment to Lubbock and the Rio Grande Valley.
 What was the price tag?!?
In 1968 the cost to Texas for the plan was projected by the TWDB to be $3.5 billion, with an additional $5.5 billion to come from the federal government. Some estimated that the project would ultimately have cost close to $14 billion in 1968 dollars.
 And, finally, how did things turn out?!?
For the plan to proceed, an amendment to the Texas Constitution was needed for the state to finance its share of
the project. In the end, the plan was defeated at the ballot box – by only 6,000 votes.  Thus it became the plan that never was, and thankfully so.
 Read the whole thing here; may history repeat itself this November!!!

No comments:

Post a Comment