The New And Improved Death Valley

Suppose that somone created an underground tunnel from the lowest point in Death Valley to the ocean in order to create an inland sea and sell the surrounding land as beachfront property.
(this would be done in a manner similar to the way the chunnel was made) Could such an undertaking be made economically feasable?

Where would the drinking water for the houses come from? Thre’s none there now. :dubious:

IANAAccountant, but I say probably not. Tunneling is obscenely expensive, and usually require hug amounts of government funding. And this would be a long tunnel. Even assuming that environmental groups don’t sue your ass off, the expense yould probably exceed the return.

It would be cheaper to build a pipeline with pumpstations to get the flow going, then let the syphon action take over. Since the lowest point of Death Valley is 279 feet below sea, the syphon action should be strong enough, so long as you could build a pipeline strong enough to resist the forces trying to collapse it like a drinking straw.

Of course, it would be obscenely expensive with no hope of recovering the investment.

Death Valley is also a National Park, so any investors would have to somehow get around that hurdle.

FYI, this was sort of how the Salton Sea was (accidentally!) created.

Well, Death Valley is acctually well supplied with drinking water from the surrounding mountains. Those who had the bad times there in the mid 1800’s were just inexperienced and didn’t know where to find it.

Such a tunnel would be 350 mi. long and cross numerous earthquake faults like the San Andreas which moves about 1 in./year. I don’t see how it could be economical. More practical from an engineering standpoint, although still doubtless uneconomic, would be a project like the Los Angeles Aqueduct. It operates by gravity, uses combined open channel and pipes with siphons for surmounting local hills.

That depends on the terrain in between. In the Earth’s gravity and atmospheric pressure, you can’t raise water any more than about 10 meters with a syphon, regardless of the height of the endpoints. Beyond that height, even a hard vacuum in the middle wouldn’t be enough to suck up the water.

Now, parts of California are pretty flat, but I’m pretty sure that you’d have to go higher than 10 meters to get from the ocean to Death Valley.

I’m afraid siphoning won’t work Fear Itself.

Go on out to San Joaqain Valley in CA and start driving south on I-5. Just before the Grapevine (I-5), look west towards Wheeler Ridge. You will notice a large set of pipes (four, I believe). This is water being pumped by the Edmonston Pumping Plant from the California Aquaduct on to Pyramid Lake. Eventually it drops down to the Los Angeles basin. The pumps requires a little less that a MegaWatt to lift it 2000 ft a the max rate of 2 Gigagallons/day. Giving that the cost of pumping (~$100,000/hr [10 cents/kWhr] or 0.1 cent/gallon) it seems to me that if there was a case for siphoning–it would be here.

I would have to assume that the reason that siphoning is not used is for two reasons: 1) The highest the siphon can reach is from the source (about ~32 1/2 feet @ sea level); it should be obvious why this is the case, 2) frictional losses ultimately limit the velocity of water flow (about 22 feet per second; at least that’s what hydralic engineer told me 15 years ago; I welcome corrections to the above educated guess.)

If you want lake front property in Death Valley, get into a time machine and zip on back to the Pliestocene epoch. You’ll find a lake at that point in time.

To be precise, the Salton Sea was created when Colorado River water overflowed canals intended to irrigate the Imperial Valley. This happened between 1901 and 1907.

There are many natural underground reservoirs of water in Death Valley. Actually the water that comes up from them is some of the sweetest I have ever drank.

One problem with a lake of water, is that the water evaporates fast. There was an area north of Barstow, CA which is over a huge underground reservoir where someone got the bright idea to put in a small community, which isn’t bad, except that at almost every home (most of the homes were trailers FYI) they put in a lake. This depleated the underground water supply so much that they now have a major problem with lack of water.

The Salton Sea is replenished all of the time thru irrigation drainage from the Imperial Valley. But thru evaporation the Salton Sea has become much more salty than the ocean.