"OVER THE NEXT TEN YEARS, $600 BILLION TO $800 BILLION WILL BE NEEDED FOR WATER PROJECTS" - The World Bank
The success of the"Spragg Bag" system is determined by economics, namely, the capital costs plus the operating costs of the system compared to other methods of delivering a water supply. Knowing that approximately one-third of the worldís population lives within fifty miles of the oceans of the world, the alternative sources to the"Spragg Bag" supply system are the natural rivers that flow, the large inter-basin transfer pipeline systems that are already in existence or planned, land based reservoirs, desalination, and water transport by tanker or some other means.
The economics of waterbag technology are easy to analyze and are compelling. A computerized economic model has been developed that allows the analysis of all the economic requirements for loading, transport, and off-loading waterbags necessary to deliver fresh water between any two points on earth. This program provides a means for comparing water costs between an existing or proposed system, such as reclamation, new inter-basin pipeline transfers, desalination and the "Spragg Bag" system.
The cost of water at the delivery site depends on a number of factors, particularly the cost of water at its source, number of bags towed at a time, distance, capital depreciation costs, and operations costs for loading and off-loading facilities. Detailed economic analysis indicates that the capital costs and operating costs of the "Spragg Bag" system are competitive with, if not far less than the capital and operating costs for the development of "new" water sources through reservoirs, reclamation, large inter-basin pipeline transfers, or desalination. A significant economic advantage of the Spragg system is that it is designed to deliver water in modular stages. Thus, the capital expenditures do not need to be incurred all at once but can be spread out over a period of time as demand for water and climate changes dictate. The system can be adjusted to the weather, thus offering more economic and environmental flexibility than dams, desalination plants, over-land pipelines, or new reservoirs.
Desalination vs. Waterbags
Oil Tankers vs. Waterbags
There are three facets to the Spragg waterbag proposal: economics, technology and politics. The technology is now in existence and the economics are easy to confirm. The politics of water is the most difficult part of the equation. A key factor is the proximity of the source of water to its final destination. One critical factor which must be addressed is the politics of local water supplies, as this relates to both source and destination, and these politics will continually evolve over time. The solution to this political problem is the simplicity of the waterbag delivery system. The zipper is the only unique technology that is needed. Towing just two waterbags from Humboldt Bay to Monterey Bay connected by this zipper will offer considerable proof for the feasibility of towing whatever annual amount of delivered waterbags is required to service the water needs of Monterey, EBMUD, or Southern California.
Waterbag technology offers a modulated system that can be turned on or off at will, depending on weather conditions and/or citizen demands on the water system. As opposed to a dam, pipeline, or desalination plant, which have significant sunk capital costs that must be paid for whether or not the system is operating, the waterbag ocean based pipeline can be operated at any variety of required delivery volumes based on weather or demand conditions due to its modulated form, and the fact that the waterbags can be easily relocated to any other location on earth for other applications if not needed. This flexibility is not available from a steel and cement pipeline sunk into the ground, a dam built on a river, or from a capital intensive desalination plant located on the California or Mediterranean coast.
Reliability is the key to any water delivery system. The reliability of the Spragg proposal should be analyzed in two ways: the reliability of water available at the source; and the reliability of the delivery system itself.
Reliability at the source of our proposed water supply for Monterey, the Mad River, has proven itself over many decades and during periods of severe California drought. If a five year drought, which is not unprecedented, were to take place on the Monterey Peninsula, even the existence of a new dam on the Carmel River would not be able to guarantee full delivery of a water supply for Monterey Peninsula residents.
The historical reliability of water delivery to the Humboldt Bay Municipal Water District from the Mad River is far superior to the historical reliability of water supply deliveries from the Carmel River, especially during drought periods.
The reliability of the Spragg waterbag delivery system is easy to prove, and can be developed in modular stages, thus allowing its reliability to be documented over a short period of time.
The "Spragg Bag" proposal eliminates the need for any new dam construction on the Carmel River. In comparison to a desalination plant, there would be no brine disposal problem using waterbag technology.
If a waterbag breaks, it is a simple task to remove it from the ocean, as we did during our 1990, 1991, and 1996 tests in Washington State. The damaged fabric can easily be taken ashore for repairs or to be discarded. It is easy to stop a deflated bag from impeding traffic or floating ashore in a short period of time. We have proven this having suffered this type of event in the Seattle harbor. Because all waterbags have a series of air inflation bags built into the top of the waterbag, it is almost impossible for the ocean environment to sink the waterbag fabric before it can be taken out of the water if it is damaged. The waterbags will be monitored 24 hours a day. If they become detached, they will be easy to locate and remove, as we have already successfully demonstrated during tests in Washington State beginning in 1990.
Using the oceans of the world to transport and store water is much kinder to the environment and hence more environmentally economical than land based reservoirs, pipelines tearing up the land, or pouring desalination brine into the sea. Fabric is cheaper than steel and cement.