Alaska Gov. Walter Hickel and county Supervisor Kenneth Hahn shook hands publicly to show support for an Alaska-to-California water pipeline and to rebuff critics who call the project a washout.
"We shook hands on 25 years: that the people of California would have all the water they need for the next 25 years," Hahn said Thursday after meeting with the visiting governor.Hailed by proponents as an ideal solution to the state's drought woes and assailed by critics as the dumb-est idea in decades, the giant pipeline project is being studied by
Fluor-Daniels Inc., an Irvine engineering firm.
Fluor will present a feasibility study to the Board of Supervisors in a month. Officials from the Metropolitan Water District, Southern California's water wholesaler, are preparing a bond proposal that would finance the project, Hahn said.
A pipeline under the Pacific Ocean could carry 100,000 acre-feet of water a day from Alaska to drought-plagued California, said Hahn. An acre-foot is the amount of water needed to cover an acre of land one foot deep - about 326,000 gallons.
Such a pipeline would cost as much as $50 billion, with the money underwritten by municipal bonds, Hahn said.
The pipeline is seen by Hahn and other supporters as the perfect long-term water solution for California, which is suffering through its fifth year of drought.
Some engineering experts, however, say the idea is fraught with problems, including its astronomical price, major maintenance requirements, and need for large amounts of expensive energy to pump the water so far.