The aqueducts originate in three locations: Duluth, on Lake Superior; Milwaukee, on Lake Michigan; and Sandusky, on Lake Erie. Each system of pipelines, tunnels, and open-air channels transfers water east to west. The Duluth pipeline feeds the Sacramento River, the Milwaukee line empties into the Colorado River, and the Sandusky sector ends at the Rio Grande. A half-dozen 1-gigawatt pumping stations push the water over the mountain ranges.
Unless you live in the Great Lakes Basin—including the newly annexed regions in Ontario and Quebec—or unless you live east of the Mississippi River in the continental U.S., your community’s potable and agricultural water supply comes through one of the three aqueducts and its many secondary branches. The Imperial Valley is fertile again, the golf courses green in Arizona, and drinking water plentiful throughout the West. The water costs are astronomical, but at least there’s water.
The United States Aqueduct Project (USAP) is the largest civil engineering project ever completed in our blessed country, dwarfing the Tennessee Valley Authority, the Hoover Dam, and other twentieth-century public water projects. It saved the American West, while concentrating power in the Great Lakes Basin. No one would have thought that Niagara Falls, New York, that decrepit industrial-era city and home to such a natural wonder, would become our nation’s new capital, but all the Great Lakes water that isn’t diverted through the aqueduct system eventually finds its way over Niagara Falls, and power is concentrated where the water flows and shrines are built.
Not everyone supported the aqueduct project. The naturalists, the environmentalists, the prophets of doom—they all advocated letting the west run dry and abandoning the region. The most challenging antagonists are the eco-terrorists who continue to sabotage the aqueduct by, according to official reports, “poking holes in the pipelines.”
If it were as simple as poking holes in remote spots, the pipeline’s skin constructed of carbon nanotubes and nano-silica structures could heal itself, but the rebels are setting off explosions that tear gaps ten meters in diameter, causing hundreds of millions of gallons of water to be lost before crews can repair the damage.
Drone surveillance is not as reliable as promised—there’s room under the lower curve of the pipeline to sneak along and remain undetected by the drones, which means Aqueduct Enforcement Officers must conduct regular patrols.
My sector is Duluth-40, an arid, baked, hellishly hot stretch that runs north of Salt Lake and through Nevada’s Duck Valley Reservation. I received an intelligence report this morning of guerilla activity south of San Jacinto. It’s dangerous work, confronting these fanatics, but I’m packing my gear and heading out to investigate. It’s my job.