Sunday, February 1, 2009

UPDATE: Pipeline from monsoon flooding in north Australia to southern states... why not?

Please help!

I recall some time ago reading something about this suggestion and the reasons why it was unworkable.

There were two main reasons if I recall correctly, the first being that there would need to be power to run pumps all along the pipeline because it was so long, and this wouldn't be possible as there would be too much loss running the power from the powerstations to remote pipeline sections. (Something to do with the loss of power over distance in the wires... I know it's not a high-tech explanation, but in lay terms that's what it is.)

I can't remember the second one, whether it was to do with the power and the length of the pipeline or what.... can anyone point me to something about this on the net?

Thanks!

Update: Received a long email from a commenter here who put his engineering hat on, here it is:

In principle anything can be done and when it comes to pipelines, I recommend having a browse through this site: The Golden Pipeline. I was unaware of this pipeline until I visited Kalgoorlie some years ago. It is an interesting story.

Now I will put on an engineer's hat and discuss for a moment the idea of pumping water south in the Australian continent. It is not the first time the idea has been raised, but here are the issues ( at least as I see them). Not in any particular order

The terrain over which of through which the water is to be pumped

The distance over which the water is to be pumped (hydraulic design - pipe friction losses, pump efficiencies etc)

The actual route across the country - fun and games with access, pipe locations, pumping stations, intermediate reservoirs etc etc

The energy supply along the route to power the pumping stations (it would have to be electricity)

The water supply and the nature of that supply, i.e., the water head and the end reservoir location

The design of the route which almost certainly would require storage reservoirs along the way to act as buffers and allow the system to be managed. Just think of a mass of water being pumped along a pipe - there are major control issues involved in shutting down the water flow if / when required because of the momentum of the moving water.

There would need to be a 'good' reliable water source (a dam) and there would need to be a decent sized storage source at the end of the line (another dam).. I'd have to guess that once these dams were built (and they would need to be properly positioned) they would be used where they were. It is most likely not feasible to design a system to collect storm water or monsoon water unless there was enough water and it could be channelled into a decent storage reservoir (a dam again) where it could feed into a pumping system.

Evaporation may be an issue for the exposed parts of the water system - intermediate reservoirs and to minimise evaporation the reservoirs would need to be either covered or built with a relatively small surface area.

Then there is the cost of the system and the cost to man and run it.

And finally there would need to be a use at the end point for all the water that is pumped.

Mind you I think this has been tried locally, e.g.how about the
Ord River Scheme and it would be worth perusing that scheme to see why it has not gone very far. I don't know enough about it and have not put in any research but I have a gut feeling that it has not been viable.

15 comments:

Anonymous said...

kae,
MONEY!!!!!
where do you think the water from the rain and following flood around Mt Isa will end up?
Yup, lake Eyre in the middle of SA.

It's only a matter of lifting the water over the high ground and then it's only a few places where pumping would be required.

On top of that if we think green, we can install wind and solar power systems where pumping is required.
To use a despised (by me) term a "win-win" situation.
Guarantee you, it will never happen, it makes too much sense.
What will happen is, that the top end will be populated instead, whether it will be by aussies, I have no idea, I have my doubts.

Orion
Ps, what about the stuff you wanted to write and the story telling? Don't keep us in suspenders!

kae said...

Hmm, cost was a factor.

Building dams is much cheaper.

The story about my tribulations for Dec-Jan will wait a while, I want it to be an amusing whine.

The other thing I was thinking about is on a very, er, touchy subject. Deception. Whether I work out a diplomatic way to say what I think will be what makes me post it. Or not.

Steve at the Pub said...

Moving water will be a never ending job.

Move the people one time only.
Everybody go north.

Anonymous said...

kae,
"touchy subject. Deception"

If I'm thinking what you are thinking, leave it alone, nothing good ever comes out of this sort of thing.

Of course I could be wayyyyy off beam, usually am.
Orion

picking up on the latest fad at Paco's,
TW: "ensig" young naval officer not quite there!

Margo's Maid said...

Of course this would be possible if there was the political will, kae. There are already some huge gas and other pipelines across Australia.

Same thing with using the huge amount of water that flows out of the northern rivers of NSW, but modern politicians have no vision...

kae said...

Margo's,
I think there may be a difference in pumping gas and pumping water...

I think the money factor is a huge hurdle, too. Cost.

It's said that we don't pay enough for our water here in Australia. I don't think that's correct. If the government provided water, which is essential, and looked after the water infrastructure as well as provision of infrastructure for future needs there wouldn't be such a problem now.

I've always been brought up not to waste water, tap off when brushing teeth for example. I use water sparingly and I am cranky that I can not wash my car when I need to (probably only once or twice a year... more often if necessary).
My house is in dire need of karcher treatment, to get rid of the mud wasps' nests and cobwebs on the brickwork.

/rant

oops

Skeeter said...

Only problem with your solution Orion and Steve, is that if the north is populated with Aussies, 5% of them will be greenies and nothing will get built.
Since I was a boy in the NSW Northern Rivers region, there have been many state and federal candidates elected on their promises of two major infrastructure developments: a deep-sea port at Iluka with a rail link to New England, and diversion of northern rivers to west of the The Great Divide.
Beattie wanted some of the Clarence River to be diverted to Qld to solve his problems.
All of these grandiose plans involve new dams. Why not build the dams close to the consumer's like they used to do?
Yeah, I know. NIMBY rules.

Skeeter said...

Forgot to answer your plea, Kae.
This ABC April 2008 report tells why the Qld government canned the water pipeline project (after spending a lot of money on a feasibility study).

Skeeter said...

Orion, top marks for your TW.
From reading them over at Paco's, I think I understand how they work, but I can't guess at what "TW" stands for.

Anonymous said...

Skeeter,
re. "TW", sorry mate I don't know what it stands for either, my best guess is "the word" meaning the verification word.

kae,
true water is not gas, but guess how long the Alaskan oil pipeline is?
On top of that they have to heat the oil at times, to make it flow.
If there is a will there is a way, but isn't it much easier to tell people to consume less, and spend the money on gov. lackeys and feel good projects?

Even the aboriginal spending would be halved, if they just gave every one of those who are eligible the average wage, no questions asked, and get rid of all the state and commonwealth departments.
It'll never happen, too many cushy jobs and prestige involved, and you ask where our tax is going?

Orion

Minicapt said...

For "TW": "Turing Word".

Cheers

Minicapt said...

... which is derived from "Turing Machine", the original conception for a thinking machine.

1. http://www.turing.org.uk/turing/
2. http://www.alanturing.net/

Cheers
JMH

Kaboom said...

A pipeline, or even an open culvert, from FNQ to Brisbane would work wonderfully.

No need to pump - water flows from top to bottom, and Tully is pretty close to the top of QLD, and Brisbane is at the bottom (if you ignore those living south of Molindinar). Water flows downwards, you know....

Skeeter said...

Thanks Minicapt. I'll enjoy the tw jokes even more now.
I remember coming across Turing's name in my readings about Enigma.

Skeeter said...

Kae, your engineer emailer makes a lot of sense and it would be hard to disagree with any of the wisdom in that message.
We tend to compare these projects with the engineering feats of Roman times, forgetting that the Romans were able to used gravity aqueducts and had much shorter distances to cope with.
Until my dam tour last Saturday, I expected that SEQ Water would use gravity-feed to get the water from Hinze Dam to the Gold Coast treatment works. Not so. A pumping station is needed at the base of the dam to pump the water over the mere 12 km distance to Molendinar.
My prediction is that there may be more river diversions (like the Snowy Scheme and the long-forgotten Clarence River scheme) in the foreseeable future, but not long distance remote-reservoir to town-reservoir schemes to solve local water shortages.