LANSING -- The State of Michigan is examining a plan to sell about half of its share of the water in the Great Lakes over the next 20 years to drought-stricken areas in the Sunbelt states.
Dr. U.R. Gullabel, head of the state's Commercial Activation Restoration Project (CARP), said the plan could earn Michigan as much as $116 billion and has been sent to Gov. Jennifer Granholm as a means to solve the state's fiscal problems.
"One of our economists, Dr. Gno Whey, brought it up at a cabinet meeting a few months ago, and the governor was so delighted she couldn't stop laughing," Gullabel said. "When she told us she was all for it, we contacted Bill Richardson in New Mexico and got the ball rolling."
Richardson, the governor of New Mexico, created a stir earlier this year when he suggested that states like his, which have rapidly growing populations and shrinking water resources, could get relief from places like the Great Lakes states, which he said "are awash in water."
The plan calls for a pipeline six feet in diameter and 2,163 miles long that will deliver 10 million gallons of water a day to the states that make up the Colorado River Compact. A second pipeline 900 miles long and three feet in diameter will supply 2 million gallons a day to Georgia, Alabama and Florida.
The feasibility of the project was researched by visiting professor Ray Ving Mahd, who runs the National Unconventional Testing Society (NUTS) at Michigan State University.
"We found it was very doable," he said. "We're going to build the first great big pipeline with one end in the water at St. Joseph, Michigan, and the other at the Grand Canyon. Why the Grand Canyon? Well, where do you think they're going to put all that water?
"The Grand Canyon is a lot deeper than the Great Lakes, but it's a lot smaller in area, so the water we ship down there will fill it to within about 50 feet of the rim," he said.
Because Michigan controls more than half of the water in the three Upper Great Lakes, which are also the three largest, state officials admitted that the plan will lower the lake levels dramatically.
"But it won't be more than 200 feet, 300 at most," said Dr. Doan B. Leevit, an engineering professor at the University of Michigan's department of Business, Utilities, Labor and Legislation (BULL). "We can afford that because all the lakes are over 700 feet. OK, Erie is only 210 feet, but if we dig a real big ditch right down the middle, we could still get the ships through and we'd also have the world's biggest skateboard park."
Ima Crank would see the backyard of her Lake Huron home near Lexington extended by 23 miles if the water sale plan is enacted. She opposes the plan but thinks it will happen anyway, saying, "Inanity and lack of foresight have never been hindrances in the past to enacting bad public policy. I hear they're going to start this project on April Fools Day."