I am as of late fascinated with the concept of pumped hydro power stations. It’s a ridiculously simple concept. You put a big artificial lake on top of a hill and use off-peak or excess power to pump water up the hill. Then during peak times you run water back down the hill to feed hydroelectric generators.
Pumped hydro solves a lot of the issues inherent in “green” energy like wind and solar, namely that they suck for base load. But if you have a bunch of wind farms and solar installations in West Texas, and then you have cisterns on top of the mesas (you need a closed loop since it’s so dry out there), you can potentially use the system as a whole for base load. Which is crazy.
But it gets me to thinking about Addicks and Barker reservoirs. Those dams aren’t doing so great. The Corps doesn’t let them get full anymore because of the risk of failure. Back in the old days – when they were built – the idea was that we were going to concrete and straighten all the Bayous which would get more water to the sea, faster. In practice that sort of thinking turned out to be back asswards; straighter bayous just backed up that much faster, and modern hydrology is all about adding meanders and benches and various other places for water to stack up.
But what if you just piped that stuff?
You could run a pressurized storm pipe from Addicks and Barker south, and either outfall it to the Brazos, or else run it all the way out to Chocolate Bay – that way you wouldn’t just be relocating the flood to Lake Jackson. Basically like a freeway bypass. Maybe call it the Grand Floodway, or something.