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Exclusive: William Shatner?s $30 Billion Kickstarter Campaign to Save California

David Pogue
Tech Critic
Yahoo Tech

This story is being featured as part of our “Yahoo Best of 2015” series. It was originally published on April 17, 2015.

Update: William Shatner’s new site, Shatner’s Water, is now live.

William Shatner. Wow. He’s 84 years old, looks 65, and juggles a schedule that would exhaust a team of ten. Book projects, TV projects, tech projects, horse-riding projects, charity projects. And his willingness to embrace the tech world is impressive; he’s got YouTube channels, he’s conducted Kickstarter projects, and he has a huge Twitter presence: more than 2 million followers. (He’s tweeted 30,000 times so far — and yes, it’s really him.)

The hour he spent with me in a Yahoo Tech Mix interview wasn’t even enough to scratch the surface.

We’ll post more of that interview shortly, but this bit couldn’t wait: “You’re gonna get a scoop here,” Shatner told me. This is it:

“California’s in the midst of a 4-year-old drought,” he said. “They tell us there’s a year’s supply of water left. If it doesn’t rain next year, what do 20 million people in the breadbasket of the world do? In a place that’s the fifth-largest GDP — if California were a country, it’d be fifth in line — we’re about to be arid! What do you do about it?”

Here’s the plan: 

"So I’m starting a Kickstarter campaign. I want $30 billion to build a pipeline like the Alaska pipeline. Say, from Seattle — a place where there’s a lot of water. There’s too much water. How bad would it be to get a large, 4-foot pipeline, keep it above-ground — because if it leaks, you’re irrigating!”

And where would this water pipeline go?

“Bring it down here and fill one of our lakes! Lake Mead!”

I was a little skeptical. It didn’t sound doable. The political hassles, the fights with local towns, the environmental impact.

“No, it’s simple,” Shatner replied. “They did it in Alaska Why can’t they do it along Highway 5? This whole area’s about to go under!”

Shatner conceded that even if he’s not able to raise the money, the effort will at least raise consciousness about the severity of California’s drought.

“If I don’t make $30 billion, I’ll give the money to a politician who says, I’ll build it.! Obviously, it’s to raise awareness that something more than just closing your tap — so why not a pipeline?”