Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Alaskan Entrepreneur Wants to Sell Bulk Water Shipments to Drought-Stricken California

Climate
Alaskan Entrepreneur Wants to Sell Bulk Water Shipments to Drought-Stricken California

An entrepreneur attempting to pioneer the shipment of large volumes of water from an Alaskan town to thirsty global markets claims his company is a step closer after signing a contract to deliver 10 million gallons per month to a buyer in dry California.

A 36-inch-diameter pipeline connects Sitka’s Blue Lake to Silver Bay. Alaska Bulk Water Inc., which hopes to ship water to thirsty markets, is fashioning a mooring system to connect the pipe to a tanker loading facility in the harbor. Photo credit: Don Kluting

Terry Trapp, chief executive of Alaska Bulk Water Inc., announced the deal in a March 25 letter to officials in Sitka, an island town of 9,000 people, which has offered to sell surplus water from a reservoir also used for hydroelectric power generation. Alaska Bulk Water’s goal is to ship water by tanker or barge by July, according to the letter.

After working with the company and its predecessors for nearly a decade and seeing numerous delays, cancellations, and contracts that were not fulfilled, Sitka officials are both skeptical and hopeful that the deal comes to fruition.

“They have told us for years that they have contracts signed, but that does not mean we’ve shipped any water,” Garry White told Circle of Blue. White is the executive director of Gary Paxton Industrial Park, which manages Sitka’s bulk water agreements. “Moving water is the true test of whether this happens,” he added.

Trapp would not discuss the details of the contract or the business operation with Circle of Blue, saying only that the company is working out the economics and logistics of the water trade.

“We’re trying to haul water from Alaska to California, and we’re looking for the most cost-efficient way to get that done,” Trapp said.

Economics Drives the Market

Cost has always been a primary obstacle for bulk water. Premium products such as the angular bottles from Fiji sell for hundreds of times the price of tap water. But bulk water is sold in large volumes, not in single-serving bottles.

Sitka is offering water from Blue Lake for one penny per gallon, which is much higher than what municipal water costs in most American cities. Nestle Waters North America, for instance pays Sacramento, California, one-tenth of a cent per gallon for its 50-million-gallon-per-year bottling plant. Alaska Bulk Water must pay Sitka for the raw product, then add the dollars needed to lease a tanker ship, plus the cost of fuel and loading facilities. The price quickly becomes uncompetitive.

These are not normal times in California, however. With the state in the fourth year of a drought emergency, a stop-gap solution such as tankers full of water might be attractive for a desperately dry coastal town. The Catalonia region of Spain, for instance, purchased tankers of water from France during a drought in 2008 as an interim measure until a desalination plant came online. That same year, Cyprus bought water from Greece and ferried it across the Mediterranean Sea.

Ten million gallons in the California contract could be a significant source of water for a small community. It equals one-quarter of the monthly summer use of Morro Bay, California, a coastal town of 10,000 people.

But without more details about the Alaska Bulk Water contract, it is difficult to assess the likelihood of a deal being completed. Neither White nor Mark Gorman, Sitka’s municipal administrator, has seen the contract that Trapp announced in his letter, they told Circle of Blue.

Gorman, nonetheless, sees evidence that Alaska Bulk Water is serious about breaking open this market. The company will lose a $1 million down payment if it does not move at least 50 million gallons by December 8. Before any shipments take place, the company must connect a 36-inch-diameter pipeline from Blue Lake to a tanker-loading facility in the middle of the harbor. The pipeline currently ends at the shore. White said that he has seen Alaska Bulk Water’s construction permit that was issued by the Army Corps of Engineers for a floating mooring system.

“Alaska Bulk Water is putting real money in the game now, so that is an indication that the deal will go through,” Gorman told Circle of Blue.

City officials are eager for the results. “It would be great for us,” White said about selling water to the world. “We’re up here in the middle of nowhere with a limited ability to earn revenue. Water is one resource we have in abundance that we can leverage to fund the city government.”

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

Help Save One of America’s Most Pristine and Endangered Rivers from Proposed Coal Mine

This Is What Epic Drought Looks Like: Lake Mead Hits Historic Low

Can This ‘Airbnb for Water’ Help Drought-Stricken Farmers?


OlgaMiltsova / iStock / Getty Images Plus

By Gwen Ranniger

In the midst of a pandemic, sales of cleaning products have skyrocketed, and many feel a need to clean more often. Knowing what to look for when purchasing cleaning supplies can help prevent unwanted and dangerous toxics from entering your home.

Read More Show Less

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter


JasonOndreicka / iStock / Getty Images

Twenty-five years ago, a food called Tofurky made its debut on grocery store shelves. Since then, the tofu-based roast has become a beloved part of many vegetarians' holiday feasts.

Read More Show Less

Trending

Protestors walk past an image of a Native American woman during a march to "Count Every Vote, Protect Every Person" after the U.S. presidential Election in Seattle, Washington on November 4. Jason Redmond / AFP / Getty Images

By Jessica Corbett

A leading environmental advocacy group marked Native American Heritage Month on Wednesday by urging President-elect Joe Biden, Vice President-elect Kamala Kamala Harris, and the entire incoming administration "to honor Indigenous sovereignty and immediately halt the Keystone XL, Dakota Access, and Line 3 pipelines."

Read More Show Less
Marilyn Angel Wynn / Getty Images

By Christina Gish Hill

Historians know that turkey and corn were part of the first Thanksgiving, when Wampanoag peoples shared a harvest meal with the pilgrims of Plymouth plantation in Massachusetts. And traditional Native American farming practices tell us that squash and beans likely were part of that 1621 dinner too.

Read More Show Less
Former U.S. Sec. of Energy Ernest Moniz listens during the National Clean Energy Summit 9.0 on October 13, 2017 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Isaac Brekken / Getty Images for National Clean Energy Summit

By Jake Johnson

Amid reports that oil industry-friendly former Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz remains under consideration to return to his old post in the incoming Biden administration, a diverse coalition of environmental groups is mobilizing for an "all-out push" to keep Moniz away from the White House and demand a cabinet willing to boldly confront the corporations responsible for the climate emergency.

Read More Show Less