This is the week that I start work in earnest on my next book, tentatively titled Rock of Ages: How Concrete Built the World as We Know It. Now that the major revisions to Different: Places that Should be Alike That Aren't Alike (due from University of Regina Press in Fall 2018, if all goes well) have been sent off, it's time to change gears.
Not that I haven't been thinking about the topic for a long time. During our trip this summer, one of the things I wanted to see was Grand Coulee dam on the Columbia River, which for a while was the biggest concrete construction in the world. But one of the things I forgot when I was thinking about the hydroelectric potential of dams is the massive effect irrigation with water from the projects.
Concrete is essential for getting water to the countryside. Without canals lined with it, the water so carefully collected behind dams would simply sink into the earth without the desired effect.
This is a photo of the outlet canal at Grand Coulee. I haven't yet researched just how the irrigation system works in this part of Washington state, but you can see the kind of countryside the river and its channeled water runs through.