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The development of augmentation programs in the Colorado River Basin were authorized by the Colorado River Basan Project Act of 1968. A 10-year moratorium was declared, from the date of the act (September 30, 1968), against making any studies or plans for the importation of water into the Colorado River Basin from any river drainage basin lying outside the natural drainage basin of the Colorado River. This moratorium was then extended to 1992 (USBR reference).

Forms of augmentation can range from seeding the clouds with chemicals (geo-engineering) to towing polar iceburgs over great distances to the coastal comunities of warmer climes. Considering sea level rise and energy intensive applications, which are also exceedingly expensive, augmentation programs are a complete waste of time and a distraction from implementing simple and reasonable solutions, which include scaling down our demands from a planet that has a fixed and finite capacity to preserve the systems of life.

The most important consideration is the amount of time necessary to complete an augmentation program which, at best, requires a 30 year time-frame. For example, the flood event that triggered the need for the construction of Hoover Dam occurred in 1905, and the initial filling of Lake Mead began in 1934. The most current example would be the Lake Powell Pipeline Project, which was conceptualized in 1996 and the rolling completion schedule for this project is projected for completions by 2030. However, considering the scale of this small project, compared to the enormous scale of the Hoover Dam Project, illustrates that the time-span for the planning process has indeed increased and, more importantly, the return on investment has significantly decreased.

Cloud-seeding might be the exception, when considering project time-scales and returns on investment. However, the pace of evaporation, snowpack sublimation and dry soil conditions, due to a warming atmosphere, definately exceed the returns.

We would argue that any and all augmentation projects are acts of desperation, embedded with futility. Whatever surplus water that may be generated, it will eventually be consumned and the pressing issue of water scarity returns. And then, the original infrastructure succumbs to old age and the reservoirs fill up with sediment and compromise the primary objectives of water storage and flood control. 




Note: desal quantities are usually measured in gallons per day



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