Water from Alaska to the Middle East – Like Towing Icebergs from Antarctica?

sitka alaska water icebergs alaska middle eastWill Alaska’s crystal clear lakes quench the thirst of the Middle East?

It looks like the old water trading game is once again getting attention. While it formerly involved such schemes as towing icebergs from Antarctica to Saudi Arabia, as well as bringing water in converted tanker vessels from Turkey (which now has a severe fresh water shortage itself ), we now have a new  water importing scheme  to dream about. This new plan involves bringing fresh water from an even further location: an Alaskan lake known as Blue Lake, located near the town of Sitka in southeastern Alaska. Reported on the National Geographic environmental news site, Alaska has numerous deep, clean lakes full of fresh water that is constantly being renewed. In fact, water in lakes like Blue Lake is a completely renewable resource.”

The town of Sitka, where the lake is located, is willing to sell “more than 9.5 billion gallons a year” or 8 percent of the lake’s volume. It is still a big challenge, however,  to ship the water in the holds of bulk tankers; which will mean cleaning it to make it suitable for human consumption once it arrives in places like Saudi Arabia or the Persian Gulf.

Turkey offered to sell water in bulk tankers a few years back when it still had sufficient quantities to warrant it doing so. Now, it has its own water problems, and is no longer in a position to sell large bulk quantities of water to regional customers, when it has its own growing water needs.

Although not specifically mentioned in the National Geographic article, the cost of transporting water in this manner can’t be much less per liter than if produced in a desalination plant like the one in Saudi Arabia.

The distance alone between Alaska and countries in  the Middle is considerable, and this fact in itself is enough to put a damper on doing this. We might all wonder who is really behind this scheme; persons such as that “moose hunter” who used to be Governor of Alaska? Or perhaps certain US Senators from the state of Arizona, who advocated to exploint the state’s energy reserves?

The real player behind this idea appears to be an American millionaire from Colorado, Michael Trapp, who commented that:

“There are water shortages and people who need water all over the world. But the people in the most dire straits are those in the Middle East.”

Even though Alaska still seems to have more than ample amounts of fresh water; it can’t be depended on to quench that much of the world’s thirst. Climate change, if continuing at present levels, will eventually have its affect on America’s largest state too; especially as a result of melting arctic ice floes and glaciers. In countries like Saudi Arabia, where desalination is now the chief supplier of fresh water, they will use solar energy to provide the power for some of them.

In regards to importing bulk quantities of fresh water from locations like Alaska to destinations in the Middle East, at present, this is only wishful thinking – like hauling icebergs from Antarctica.

::National Geographic

Photo: Alan Vernon

Read More on water to the Middle East:
Saudi Arabia Opens World’s Largest Desalination Plant
Saudi Arabia to Replace Oil with Sun Power for Desalination Plants
Is Turkey the Most Environmentally Friendly Country?

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