Originally planned in the 1950's and 1960's, the initial NAWAPA plan is a series of projects designed to take large amounts of fresh water from Alaska and the Canadian Yukon, divert it before its runoff into the Pacific Ocean, channel it through Canada, into the United States, and all the way to northern Mexico. This would be achieved by a series of dams, canals, tunnels, lakes, and pump lifts, guiding the water down the continent, allowing for the potential irrigation of an estimated 86,000 square miles, transforming the arid landscape along the way.
As by the intention of the original NAWAPA design, some of the most severe water shortages of the United States could be solved. For example, large amounts of water can be added to the desperate water systems of California. It could reverse the depletion of the massive Ogallala Aquifer, which is supplying a diminishing amount of fossil ground water to millions of acres of farm land in Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, New Mexico and other states. Water would even be diverted into the Great Lakes system, refilling the supply in the Eastern United States. In total, the majority of all the States in our Union will receive direct benefits in terms of water supplies.