Actor William Shatner, 84, announced on Friday that he plans to launch a Kickstarter to raise $30 billion for a water pipeline from Seattle to Lake Mead in Nevada, which feeds water to Arizona, Nevada and California, according to a Yahoo! interview.
“California’s in the midst of a 4-year-old drought. 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?” Shatner told Yahoo! Tech’s David Pogue.
His proposal involves a 4-feet, above-ground pipeline that would run alongside Interstate 5.
“No, it’s simple. They did it in Alaska — why can’t they do it along Highway 5? This whole area’s about to go under,” said Shatner.
The actor, best known for his role as Captain James T. Kirk in Star Trek, called Seattle “a place where there’s a lot of water.”
David Postman, who works in Governor Jay Inslee’s office is a big fan of Shatner and a former Californian who appreciates Shatner’s creative thinking.
“But as you know, we have our own drought this year with a widening problem as summer approaches,” Postman said in an email.
“Much of the state is under a drought declaration and as much as we’d like to help our neighbors in California, I think Washingtonians would want to first make sure we have enough water before sending any south through the Shatner Pipeline.”
While Washington state has received a normal amount of rainfall so far in 2015, the average snowpack is well below normal and Gov. Jay Inslee has issued an emergency drought declaration for watersheds that account for 44% of the state.
Snowmelt runoff for the summer of 2015 is projected to be the lowest on record in 64 years and the state Department of Ecology is asking for legislators for $9 million in funding.
Seattle does not have a surplus of water, said Paul Faulds, a water resources manager for Seattle Public Utilities.
“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 said.
Thanks to full reservoirs from winter rains and strict conservation, Faulds said Seattle is on track to survive a dry summer, but is in no position to save California, which is now enduring a fourth year of drought.
“We’re not being greedy. We do sympathize with them for sure,” Faulds said.
Proposals like Shatner’s just aren’t feasible, said David Christensen, Program Development Section Manager for the Water Resources Program at the state Department of Ecology.
The drought and water shortages in much of the Southwest are not predicted to abate anytime soon. And a December op-ed in the Los Angeles Times suggested that the issue of water may drive the next great migration straight into the Pacfic Northwest.
Shatner tweeted out a response to the blowback from Washington residents on his proposal.
He implied he wouldn’t take Seattle’s much-needed water, but had received interest in the proposal from Grays Harbor, Washington.
He also said he would need help from “experts” to put any sort of plan into action and called on Al Gore and Elon Musk, specifically to assist him.
However unrealistic Shatner’s campaign may be, it’s definitely getting attention and creating a conversation — which may have been his goal. In the interview, Shatner said if he couldn’t raise the $30 billion, he at least hoped to raise awareness of California’s drought.