Salton Sea Authority Board of Directors to Assess Proposal to Save Endangered Sea

Dec. 13, 2002
Technological Solution Has Potential to Improve Salton Sea and Create New Source of Water for California

The Salton Sea Authority Board of Directors agreed to conduct an assessment of United States Filter Corporation's (USFilter) proposal that has the potential to solve two of California's most pressing challenges -- stabilizing and improving the Salton Sea and helping the State meet current and future demands for water.

"We commend today's action by the Salton Sea Authority Board of Directors," said Andy Seidel, USFilter CEO. "USFilter's technological expertise in water treatment has enabled us to present a cost-effective, sustainable solution for improving and protecting the Salton Sea and making more water available for future generations of Californians."

The assessment will evaluate the technical, biological and financial aspects of USFilter's plan, which would protect existing wildlife habitat at the Salton Sea, improve water quality and create a new high-quality water resource to meet California's increasing fresh water and water quality requirements. The Salton Sea Authority's assessment will entail the development of a draft white paper, which would include recommendations for next steps, a review of findings by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation and Technical Advisory Committee and a peer review led by the Authority's Science Office.

U.S. Rep. Mary Bono voiced her support for USFilter's proposal at the meeting. "I am very encouraged by the initial discussions I have had with USFilter regarding their innovative proposal for the restoration of the Salton Sea. For the first time ever, there is a plan that offers hope to those committed to saving the Sea, which is a positive step forward," she said.

About USFilter's Salton River Proposal

USFilter's solution proposes the construction of a shallow water dike to establish a Salton "River," an 80-mile ring around the perimeter of the current Salton Sea. This "river" would result in moderately saline water that would be treated at a desalination treatment facility to be constructed at the north end of the Sea. Water treated at the desalination plant -- as much as 500,000 acre-feet per year -- could be made available to meet California's water needs. Proceeds from sales of the new water could be used to finance the cost of implementing the Salton River solution.

By creating a ring around the perimeter of the nutrient-rich Salton Sea, which currently covers a surface area of 376 miles, the shoreline would be stabilized at its current levels. The interior of the Salton Sea would shrink through natural evaporation and become a hypersaline lake that would support brine shrimp and flies, essential food for many bird species. The remaining seabed would be flushed with desalinated water to remove salts from the soil, then planted with salt tolerant grasses to create new habitat and prevent dust hazards.

Once created, the Salton "River" would have lower levels of salt, nitrates and phosphates than the current Salton Sea, allowing it to support more wildlife and decrease odor problems. This high quality water would protect existing avian habitats on shore and on Mullet Island, as well as create new protected habitat on the slope of the dike above the water level. Grasslands and wetlands established in the exposed central Sea would create new avian habitats.

Detailed information about USFilter's proposal is available at or by contacting Maxine Enciso at 310-584-8303 or via e-mail at [email protected].

Source: USFilter Corp.

Image courtesy Institute of Chemical Research of Catalonia (ICIQ).
All images courtesy of Ecosorb.