William Shatner has been many things over the course of his career—actor, author, activist, horse-breeder, and car insurance spokesperson, to name just a few—but his latest area of concern is somewhat of a head-scratcher. In an interview with Yahoo Tech’s David Pogue, Shatner gave him quite the scoop, announcing that: “I’m starting a Kickstarter campaign. I want $30 billion… to build a pipeline… Say, from Seattle. A place where there’s a lot of water. There’s too much water,” down to California to address the drought. And judging by the video, Shatner looks entirely serious.
Explaining his vision for the pipeline, Shatner said: “How bad would it be to get a large, 4-foot pipeline, keep it above ground—because if it leaks, you’re irrigating!… The people pay you! Bring it down here and fill one of our lakes!”
While Pogue seems understandably skeptical at Shatner’s surprise turn to geoengineering, Shatner doesn’t waver: “Why can’t they do it along Highway 5? This whole area’s about to go under!… If I don’t make $30 billion, I’ll give the money to a politician who says, ‘I’ll build it.’ Obviously, it’s to raise awareness that something more than just closing your tap… so why not a pipeline?”
So just how crazy is the idea of transporting water from out of state to alleviate the drought? Well, it turns out Shatner is far from the first to propose such an idea. In the late 1980s, Alaskan governor Wally Hickel proposed the construction of a 1,400-mile-long, 14-foot diameter pipeline to sell California 1.3 trillion gallons of water each year—and in the current drought, some have raised the idea once again.
The problems of such a solution? Aside from negotiating land rights along a large swath of the west coast, it was also estimated in 1991 that the expense of the pipeline, and pumping systems to operate it would mean that each gallon of water would be ten times the price of any other alternative once it reached its destination, and that include pricey alternatives such as ocean water desalination.
So while experimental solutions are certainly part of the answer to California’s drought, enormous pipelines may not be quite the answer we’re looking for. Though, if anyone can raise a huge sum of money on Kickstarter, Shatner just might be able to—and in the entirely probable circumstance that he falls short of $30 billion, he’ll have raised a lot of awareness in the process.