Decades ago, in the 1980s, they were pushing a plan that really irked a lot of us here in the Pacific Northwest: claiming that we were just letting perfectly good water go to waste, they proposed stuffing some large pipes into the Columbia River upstream from Astoria and then pumping a few trillion gallons down the coast to sunny California. Good times, good times. Being rebuffed here, Alaska's governor invited them to look further north.
So having failed to see that cunning plan to fruition, some brainiacs down there are thinking more ambitiously: how about running lines and pumps along the sea-floor from, say, Alaska? Maybe they could try that again?
The Stikine River, above, is one of two candidates; the other being the world famous Copper River. Great ideas, both. Probably do wonders for the salmon fisheries.
The state is weeping snowmelt into the North Pacific. Nobody’s using it. It’s close to California, relatively speaking. And a pipe wouldn’t have to cross over any continental divides.
The original plan called for four 14-foot diameter pipes running at least 1,400 miles from the mouth of one of southeast Alaska’s monster rivers to one of California’s reservoirs. These would deliver about 1.3 trillion gallons of water a year. (California is currently about 11 trillion gallons of water in deficit.) Either of the Alaskan rivers under consideration—the Copper and the Stikine—have outflows more than double the combined flow of the Sacramento/San Joaquin rivers, California’s largest watershed.
There are a couple of minor issues. For one thing, the old "nobody's using it" argument, which was the historical basis for water rights determinations, doesn't apply any longer. We've come to recognize that just because no other humans are using it, that doesn't mean that nobody is. It's kind of important for fisheries, waterfowl, and other wildlife.
And then there's the issue of running all of those miles of pipes and pumps along the seafloor: that's a lot of jurisdictional permitting, just to start. NOAA would want to get involved, as would the USCG and the Navy - to say nothing of the various fishing groups and maritime associations. Greenpeace and other so-called environmental groups with would crap themselves and then fall over in it during the course of a huge hissy-fit. Canada might even have some issues.
No, the best move for Californians is to deal with their drought by recognizing that for the most part, they live in a coastal desert. Ditch the water-intensive crops like almond orchards, get rid of the lush green lawns and the innumerable fresh-water swimming pools, and most of the golf courses. Try living responsibly for a change. They might find that they like it better.