A month ago, the Minneapolis StarTribune ran a story concerning a county in the state and a private company both of whom were considering this: tapping into a below-ground water supply and hauling that natural resource by train to southwestern states who are in need of fresh water.
Selling a renewable natural resource for a profit that would generate revenue for the “Land of 10,000 Lakes” sounded good to me. But the negative outrage that idea received from locals in that county all the way to representatives in the state legislature was substantial.
The question I pose is: why the negative fuss?
This state already supplies copious amounts of iron ore, corn and soybeans to the rest of the world for profit, so why not profit from this other natural, renewable resource of ours?
Years ago, mostly to stimulate conversation, I proposed running a water pipeline from Lake Superior to Arizona and Texas for the purpose of helping those states with much needed water for agriculture. The idea seemed to me a win-win situation for both parties–revenue for Minnesota and water for a desert.
Some engineers I spoke with cited the improbable logistics of such a project, taking into account the cost of lift stations, etc. in moving the water that far and over the continental divide, at that. But with a little subsidy from the federal government, I’d bet this could be accomplished.
Others who questioned my idea posed the possibility of depleting the water level of our Great Lake. I countered with; “Lake Superior has lost a foot or two during some dry seasons but has always recovered that water. So in dry seasons, the state simply would not sell water.”
I talked to others who informed me my pipeline idea was not new–that a pipeline to the South had been proposed but was found not cost-effective, i.e., it would not make a profit. If a pipeline to Texas is not cost effective, so be it.
But now that we have found private enterprise willing to take the risk of the cost of moving fresh water south for profit, why wouldn’t the general public and lawmakers give this Minnesota county and that private venture their stamp of approval?
And for the environmentalists in this state, let’s repeat the scenario: taking a renewable resource (fresh water) which this state has plenty of, mining it for profit to be sold to southwestern states who are in dire need of our resource. And let’s repeat the phrase “renewable resource.”
The general public needs to here some concrete reasons why this is not a good idea. Otherwise, there ought to be a groundswell from concerned citizens in support of what sounds like a decent proposal.
Bob Statz is a Messenger staff writer.