Drastically increased demands upon the nation's water resources are predicted in the coming years as a result of population growth, increased per capita use of water, and the progressive concentration of the population in urban areas.
One solution to the water shortage problem is to obtain water from new sources. The boldest and most ambitious proposal is the North American Water and Power Alliance (NAWAPA). This project would result in the damming of various rivers in Alaska and the Canadian Yukon, and transporting the waters of these rivers into a largely man-made five hundred mile long reservoir along the Rocky Mountain Trench. This would involve construction of a series of connecting tunnels, canals, lakes, dams, and lifts. An estimated 70 million to 150 million kilowatts of electric power would also be generated. NAWAPA would provide water to seven provinces of Canada, thirty-three of the United States and to three northern states of Mexico. In all, 110 million acre-feet of water would flow through the system each year with the maximum potential estimated at 250 million acre-feet or about 36 trillion gallons per year.
Even if the NAWAPA project is successfully completed, however, additional measures toward more efficient management of water resources must be implemented at all levels of government. This will require a determination of needs and capabilities, and the formulation of long-range plans for the development of all water resources and related land resources within a hydrologic unit. Regulating streams flow, improving water quality, increasing the efficiency of water use, expanding the use of underground storage, and increasing the available water supply by such measures as desalinization, weather modification, and reduction of evaporation losses must be considered in such planning.
Richard C. Ausness & Frank E. Maloney, Administering State Water Resources: The Need for Long-Range Planning, 73 W. Va. L. Rev. 209 (1971).