The Reber Plan? Reber? Weren't they the cannibalistic humans in Firefly and
Serenity? No, this Reber is someone else - a fellow who proposed a plan for San Francisco Bay in the 1940s that would construct two dams across San Francisco Bay to create two freshwater lakes, among other things. Although a number of individuals and organizations supported his idea, it never got off the ground. Why? Read on...
Before continuing, I have to admit that I had not heard of this scheme until I read the chapter on "Zombie Water Projects" by Peter H. Gleick, Matthew Hebeger, and Kristina Donnelly in The World's Water, Volume 8, by Peter H. Gleick et al. [Here's a related article by Peter from Circle of Blue.] I was chagrined because I pride myself on being a student of water mega-projects (give me NARA and NAWAPA any day). Perhaps the Reber Plan was not 'mega' enough. But I digress too much.
John Reber, a schoolteacher, amateur engineer, and theatrical producer, concocted the plan, also known as the San Francisco Bay Project, in the late 1940s, although he had actually conceived it in the 1930s, partly out of defense concerns.
Here is the Wikipedia entry:
Under the plan, which was also known as the San Francisco Bay Project, the mouth of the Sacramento River (from Suisun Bay) would be channelized by dams and would feed two freshwater lakes within the bay, providing drinking water to the residents of the bay area. The barriers would support rail and highway traffic and would create two vast freshwater lakes, supplying irrigation water to farms. Between the lakes, Reber proposed the reclamation of 20,000 acres (81 km2) of land that would be crossed by a freshwater channel. West of the channel would be airports, a naval base, and a pair of locks comparable in size to those of the Panama Canal. Industrial plants would be developed on the east.
The basins would also capture and store 2.4 MAF of freshwater each year. Looks pretty good these days, right?
Here is a brief video from KQED that tells the tale, including the plan's demise - it would have essentially produced two big evaportation basins.
And belwo is a digram of the plan. The red areas are filled-in areas of the bay. For a larger image go here.
As described in the video, the physical model constructed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers was the death knell, demonstrating that the Reber Plan would not do what it was designed to do. And that was all she wrote.
Peripheral tunnels, anyone?
Where are all those LaRouche folks when you need them?
"Technological possibilities are irresistible to man. If man can go to the moon, he will. If he can control the climate, he will." - John von Neumann