Engineering Our Southwest Biosphere
March 2, 2011 • 6:37PM

By Michael Kirsch

The accelerating water crises associated with groundwater pumping throughout the US Southwest, and the ongoing struggles over the Colorado and other rivers, are well known and becoming a serious danger for the existence of human life. Fortunately, these are and have been unnecessary. A mere margin of the 800 million acre feet of runoff which still today continues to be wasted and thrown away, annually, in the northern reaches of the US and Canada, could solve them.

In 1964, a project was designed which based itself on managing the biosphere for the purposes of increasing the living standard of the continent, by tapping into the bigger, more governing water cycle characteristics, and designing a system that would outflank the local anomalies which occur in different parts of the continent arising from a number of factors, including continental topography and large ocean-atmospheric weather systems. Through the use of wasted runoff water, the local weather phenomenon would be regulated, and eventually, regions of the continent would have different, and more desirable weather patterns altogether. Also, by utilizing existing rivers and dams in many of the states, the system would be cross hatched like an electrical grid, and when one area had more water than it needed, the surplus could be sent where it is needed. The whole NAWAPA system would be regulated by a control center monitoring the levels of its 240 reservoirs to coordinate a delivery system months in advance, utilizing the most advanced weather forecasting methods possible.

A subset of that system for the Southwest states of UT, NV, AZ, NM, CA, TX, and CO, with 32 reservoirs and an irrigation system of 53 million acre feet, is presented here for discussion.

View of Southwest States and NAWAPA Reservoirs

In 1964, the Ralph Parsons company discussed the effect of NAWAPA's 110 million acre feet(MAF) of delivered water purely in its effect in increasing irrigable land, a staggering 50 million additional acres, or twice the irrigable acreage west of the Mississippi at that time; however, the questions of how those irrigable crops, not to mention the array of reservoirs, would a) change weather patterns, b) could be in fact be designed to most effectively do so, and furthermore, c) which types of crops and forests could and should be planted in various regions to maximize all beneficial factors, were entirely left out of the formal presentation of their plan. Today we are able to show the benefits of building the NAWAPA project more clearly in this vein, and also adjust the design, and direct the use of the irrigation water and reservoir management systems, to engineer the best possible system for man's economy, as discussed in this article, and this video. Furthermore, it is becoming increasingly recognized that the environment in which plants and animals prosper or perish, is not merely one governed solely by temperature, moisture, and rainfall cycles, but one which is determined by numerous electromagnetic aspects of the earth's atmosphere in relation to the sun, and also subtle biological interactions which are only beginning to be studied.

Variations in different components and intensity of the earth's magnetic field, also relative to location on the earth, have been shown to have a close connection with plant and animal behavior and growth; galactic cosmic ray influx, mediated by the Sun's magnetic strength, have been shown to be associated with increased cloud nucleation of low level clouds; bacteria have been found to play a major role in cloud nucleation themselves, causing cloud formation at higher temperatures; the continuous electromagnetic interaction between solar activity and the highly organized magnetosphere, ionosphere, mesosphere, stratosphere, and troposphere, create effects which we experience such as thunderstorms and varying electrical activity, and is an interaction waiting to be understood and utilized.

For the subject of this post, I would like to point attention to the data available from the NAWAPA design, in terms of both million acre feet of irrigated water for each Southwest state, as well as the data on the Southwest storage reservoirs, and pose a few questions which are addressed to those of you who have done research or have experience in water management, climate-weather studies, and other scientific considerations relating to managing water systems for agriculture, fishery, forestry, and soil restoration purposes.

Are there experts in each of the States of the Southwest who could illustrate the effects of the system described below, and together form a comprehensive picture of the total transformation, and where possible, a coordinated transformation?


What changes will be effected through the newly available water throughout the Southwest states, and for each state in particular? Given the climates and elevations of the storage reservoirs and canals through which water will be delivered, what specific rotations of crops and combinations of forests should be planted in the regions of each state to maximize a beneficial change for moisture levels, evapo-transpiration, cloud formation, and soil and ground water management?



What changes will be effected through the creation of this new system of reservoirs and canals throughout the Southwest, and how should the surrounding areas of the reservoirs be planted so as to create the optimal climate and further induce precipitation? As has been discussed in studies of greening the Sahara, should existing species of plants be modified to maximize this process of returning the biosphere to this region?  

A recent study in January of 2011 "The influence of large dams on surrounding climate and precipitation patterns", and an earlier article on the same subject, have demonstrated the long hypothesized relationship between reservoir evaporation and dam driven land cover on the one side, and alterations in regional hydroclimatology, such as increased precipitation, on the other, especially for arid climates. This scientific study and article make it crystal clear, that a similar study done for the impact for NAWAPA's reservoirs and water use is simply waiting the qualified team to carry it out.

“For semi-arid and Mediterranean regions, the open water body of a reservoir...adds sufficiently more mositure than the sparsely vegetated surroundings, resulting in clear spatial gradients of water vapor flux for most appears quite plausible that the systematic land use and land cover change triggered by the dam may have played a role in modification of rainfall patterns. It is important to note that dams may not only initiate a systematic change in precipitation trends, but they may also accelerate an ongoing trend originating in the pre-dam era by providing additional moisture from changes in weather patterns.

"Given that land cover is a first order forcing on local climate change...the historical chronology of irrigation patterns and other land cover types around multi-purpose reservoirs needs to be investigated with an atmospheric model to understand how heavy storms are physically modified."

All of the Southwest reservoirs in the above table can be viewed in detail using an interactive map, following this link.



How should these 32 reservoirs be managed to effect a maximization of aquatic protein by using new scientific methods of both water treatment, and the control, use, and engineering of plants, fish, microorganisms and viruses ?


Water projects in China, Africa, and the Middle East, such as, desalination plants and irrigation technology have been used in attempting to reverse the desertification which is taking place in these regions, what can be applied to the American Southwest? The proposals such as the Qattara depression plan in Egypt or the Bohai-Xinjiang water project in China are based on bringing salt water inland from the ocean; what would be the ideal combination of nuclear power and desalination to make these projects more on the NAWAPA scale? What could be used in the NAWAPA model to lead the research in developing systemic techniques to conquer the larger deserts such as the Sahara, the Gobi and the Australian outback?


The North American Desert is one of a larger set of deserts which cover the face of the earth. As has been studied in the case of the Sahara, when the NAWAPA program begins, it will inevitably moderate the global weather patterns. Can we forecast what some of these changes will be?


Do you know of studies involving controlling the weather, beyond the known cloud seeding efforts, such as influencing the electric conditions of areas to induce thunderstorms or other changes in climate, or studies related to influencing and utilizing aspects of the electromagnetic characteristics of the upper stratosphere and ionosphere more broadly? Are you aware of studies on the different types of radiation upon which both aquatic and land plants and organisms depend which could be applied in this case?

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