Aerial view of the Mississippi River | Photo by MPLSArchives via Flickr/Creative Commons CC BY 2.0
Part XVI of an “EDEN America” series
“Here we all work ‘long the Mississippi
Here we all work while the white folk play
Pullin’ them boats from the dawn till sunset
Gettin’ no rest till the judgment day….”
Remember the song Ol’ Man River? Jerome Kern made its music, the lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II, and is a show tune from the 1927 musical Show Boat? Here is a YouTube version of the song.
The Mississippi is often called Old Man River. There is the saying that “the Old Man River does not like to be controlled.”
The Ogallala Aquifer, also known as the High Plains Aquifer, underlies eight states stretching across America’s High Plains from South Dakota down to Northern Texas. It has been running out of water. Please read “Crisis on the High Plains on the High Plains: The Loss of America’s Largest Aquifer.”
The crisis at the Ogallala Aquifer is not unique, as the other aquifers in the United States get depleted beyond the ability of Mother Nature to replenish the groundwater.
Perhaps Mother Nature tried to hint how Tennessee and the Mississippi River can relieve the water problem that the people, especially the farmers, now face in the Great Plains. How was the hint delivered? “Earthquakes shot across the American Southeast in late 1811 and the spring of 1812, the landscape along the New Madrid Fault (which runs parallel to the Mississippi River Valley) changed dramatically.” The earthquakes created a lake in the area of western Tennessee. And the other states in the West. Please read the details at this link.
American Southeast has had a series of earthquakes nearly 211 years ago. Perhaps, America’s policy and decision-makers may now consider the urgency of building water treatment facilities, pipelines, and other structures to channel the used waters of the Old Man River to all the aquifers that need replacement. The waters of the Mississippi River and its tributaries end up in the Gulf of Mexico. Suppose the oil industry can build massive pipelines to carry crude oil and finished products. Why can America not build the pipelines to take waters of the Mississippi River discharged to the sea? This project will also mitigate the annual flooding that devastates low-lying areas in the valleys parallel to the Mississippi River.
“American Southeast has had a series of earthquakes nearly 211 years ago. Perhaps, America’s policy and decision-makers may now consider the urgency of building water treatment facilities, pipelines, and other structures to channel the used waters of the Old Man River to all the aquifers that need replacement.”
This proposed project can also generate electricity, as mini-hydro generating plants can produce it without wasting or dirtying the river water, or both. They can clean river water in settling ponds simultaneously — before they pump water to the aquifers in the Great Plains and other states experiencing drought. Perhaps feasibility studies may show that piping waters from the Mississippi River will cost less than erecting huge desalination plants along the shores of the Pacific-and-Atlantic Oceans. And doing the same distribution to the drought-stricken communities and their aquifers.
From the engineering viewpoint, nothing is now impossible to do. Modern science can make feasible and affordable all the projects — from pipelines to aqueducts — that can sustain the 21st-century thirst for potable water not only for drinking but also for household and irrigation needs.
All of the proposed infrastructures can lead to more downstream (pun intended) projects, as mentioned in Chapter XV (and in the other coming episodes).