In the context of the White House Jobs Summit underway today, plans were announced today to re-launch a push for a decades-old large-scale water diversion project that would create 10s of thousands of new jobs, bring massive sums of fresh water to the southwestern U.S., potentially irrigate thousands of acres of arid land, increase planetary respiration to counter global warming, and yield a massive abundance of clean hydro-electric power.
The “North American Water and Power Alliance” (NAWAPA) was developed by the Ralph Parsons Engineering Company of Southern California in the early 1970s. Extensive engineering studies were done to establish the feasibility of diverting fresh water from powerful northern-flowing rivers in Alaska and Northern Canada southward through the Rockies into the southwestern U.S. and Northern Mexico. Seen as a major “Work Projects Administration (WPA)”-style undertaking, NAWAPA would create thousands of jobs at all skill levels and yield enormous beneficial results.
Nicholas F. Benton, president of Benton Communications, Inc., of Falls Church, Virginia, said today he intends to launch a non-profit educational and promotional effort to remind official Washington, D.C. policy makers of NAWAPA.
In January 1966, at the instigation of the late U.S. Senator Frank E. Moss (D-Utah), a “Western Water” subcommittee of the Senate Public Works committee produced a study on NAWAPA in its various aspects, and a series of sub-committee hearings were held. Moss left the Senate in 1976, but teamed with Benton in the early 1980s in an independent effort to revive interest.
Benton wrote a national affairs column on NAWAPA in the July 9, 2009 edition of the Falls Church News-Press entitled “The Biggest Water Project:”
Noting that large-scale water diversion projects have played a major role in turning the U.S. into the economic powerhouse of the world, Benton said that another feasible large-scale diversion project involves diverting water from the Congo River in the Democratic Republic of the Congo to the Lake Chad basin, where water could then be pumped eastward and westward across the breadth of the entire Sahel. There exist French engineering studies of this plan produced in the last century, he said, although he said he has been unable to locate them.
“It was understandable that during the Cold War Era, no one wanted to pursue projects like this for fear they would fall into enemy hands. But in this era, projects like this serve as the basis for multi-national cooperation and diplomacy. There is no greater incentive to peace than prospects for real, shared economic growth,” Benton said.