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Our Opinion: Moving toward a solution

July 14, 2001

Efforts to save the Salton Sea from the salt that is choking the life out of it are ongoing but necessary if the sea is to survive. The Salton Sea is an important part of the Valley, and it could continue to have an important role as a source of revenue in the future.

But, if the sea environment dies the sea will benefit no one. That cannot be allowed to happen, which is why we credit the Salton Sea Authority for pilot projects it has been conducting to lower the concentration of salt in the sea.

Recently, the authority announced it was bringing an end to one pilot project, the enhanced evaporation system. As part of the EES, snow-blower devices were placed along the sea. The blowers create a mist that allows the salt to separate from the water. Those with the Salton Sea Authority said at this point they have learned much from the EES pilot project, and it would be too expensive to continue the pilot program at this time.

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We understand the need to discontinue the project, and we also understand it is just one step in the continuing effort to select the final method that will be used to reduce the concentration of salt.

Discontinuing that pilot project also will allow the authority to focus more attention on another pilot effort — the solar evaporation ponds. The project calls for using settling ponds to collect sea water. In each pond there will be more evaporation until the final pond is basically crystallized salt. Authority officials said they will be able to use the site of the discontinued EES project as a disposal area for the salt from the solar evaporation pond project.

Even if the EES system is chosen over the solar evaporation pond system, officials will have to know how to dispose of the collected salt. It makes sense, then, to spend time and funding to determine how to do that. We support that effort, and wish them luck as they gather the critical information needed to make a final decision on how to save the sea.

For the first time in all the years the Salton Sea has been a topic of concern, we are seeing real action. We believe that action will bring results. It may take some time, and it certainly is going to take a great deal of funding, but the effort to save the sea will produce results.

We all stand to benefit if that is the case because the sea can be an important tool to promote tourism in the Imperial Valley. The sea already is a tourist attraction now for those who enjoy its beauty and for those who enjoy bird watching and fishing, but perhaps we haven't come close to tapping into the potential the sea has.

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