Sea evaporation project over

too costly

July 12, 2001|By KELLY GRANT, Staff Writer

LA QUINTA — The Salton Sea Authority is halting its pilot enhanced evaporation system project at the Salton Sea Navy Test Base because the cost to continue it is too high.

In a report given to the SSA Board of Directors at its meeting here Wednesday, Executive Director Tom Kirk said the EES "may not be faring as well as other projects."

According to the meeting's agenda materials, the EES was the lowest cost alternative to reduce salt in the Sea evaluated in the 2000 restoration environmental impact statement and report.

Through periodic testing at the site, the Salton Sea Authority has learned some of what the EES can do for the Sea.


However, "to undertake more tests of the EES at this time will be costly. To learn much more than we have to date about the technology requires a high level of performance monitoring which is matched by a high cost to complete the infrastructure at the site," the agenda material states.

The information material goes on to state that "finishing the infrastructure and operating and monitoring the ground based EES over the next six months will cost over $1 million."

As the question of what to do with the salt after it is removed from the Sea emerges as a challenge for the Salton Sea Authority, that site could be better used as a test disposal site, Kirk said. Measures to convert the site are under way.

Though the pilot project has stopped, "EES will still be evaluated in the alternatives document and, presumably, in the revised draft EIS/EIR," the agenda material states.

The Bureau of Reclamation is completing a report summarizing results of a 700-hour test of the EES conducted at the site in January. That report is expected to be completed in two weeks.

Also at Wednesday's meeting, the board voted to issue a second request for proposals for a one-year pilot project on-water fish-removal system.

The initial RFP, issued in May, yielded three high-cost proposals ranging in price from nearly $3 million to $1 million.

The board voted 4-1 to issue a new RFP stipulating the proposals not exceed $500,000. Though the second round of proposals are expected to be less comprehensive than the first, the price is one the SSA can more easily afford.

The board also heard an update on the status of the Colorado River Quantification Settlement Facilitation Act. The board adopted a resolution last month supporting this legislation which, in part, will allocate $60 million to mitigate proposed water transfers' effects on the Salton Sea.

Tom Levy, general manager of the Coachella Valley Water District, informed the board that the Congressional Salton Sea Task Force will meet Friday. Levy anticipates the legislation will be introduced next week and a hearing will take place later this month.

The Authority's next scheduled meeting will be at 10 a.m. Sept. 13 in the IID board room in La Quinta.

Staff Writer Kelly Grant can be reached at 337-3441.

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