William Shatner's insane plan to solve California's drought: A $30 billion pipeline from Seattle

Residents of the Pacific Northwest are less than thrilled with the proposed Kickstarter campaign

Published April 21, 2015 6:57PM (EDT)

      (AP/Matt Sayles)
(AP/Matt Sayles)

With the squabbling over potential solutions to California's historic drought reaching a fever pitch (Stop growing almonds? Stop eating meat? Definitely get Nestlé to stop bottling the state's water...), it was only a matter of time before someone proposed a more, um, creative approach.

Stepping forward with one such bold idea is actor William Shatner, who claims he wants to build a $30 billion pipeline from Seattle down to one of California's dried-up lakes. A Kickstarter campaign, he said, should do the trick.

"There’s too much water [in Seattle]," Shatner told Yahoo Tech's David Pogue. "How bad would it be to get a large, 4-foot pipeline, keep it aboveground -- because if it leaks, you’re irrigating!”

"It's simple,” he insisted. “They did it in Alaska -- why can’t they do it along Highway 5?"

Oregonians, unsurprisingly, are less than thrilled with the idea, particularly as the Pacific Northwest, thanks to this season's record-low snowpack, is facing potential water emergencies of its own. Such fears aren't without precedent, the L.A. Times points out: in 1990, Los Angeles County Supervisor Kenneth Hahn proposed digging aqueducts to collect water from further north, prompting Oregon Gov. Neil Goldschmidt to accuse him of attempting to steal his water.

Paul Faulds, the water resources manager for Seattle Public Utilities, told USA Today that the city kind of needs it water supply -- and that it doesn't have a lot to spare. "Our water goes to provide water for people, for businesses and for fish. We use our water wisely and manage it throughout the season," Faulds explained.

"We're not being greedy," he added. "We do sympathize with them for sure."

Thankfully, this is much more theoretical than that other controversial pipeline, as well as -- we've got to hope -- a really well-played joke on the part of Shatner.

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If he was kidding, though, it's not clear whether Pogue, who gave the proposal a relatively straight write-up, got it. Come to think of it, it's not entirely clear whether Shatner himself knows whether or not he was serious. He told Pogue that, even if his Kickstarter goes the way of his last, failed attempt to crowdsource funds, he'll at least raise awareness about the drought.

Nonetheless, late Monday night, he called on some other big thinkers to weigh in the idea:

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"California's in the midst of a 4-year-old drought," Shatner told Yahoo Tech. "They tell us there's a year's supply of water left. If it doesn't rain next year, what do 20 million people in the breadbasket of the world do?" All kidding aside, that's a big question that remains to be answered.

By Lindsay Abrams

MORE FROM Lindsay Abrams

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California Drought Pipelines Seattle William Shatner