Voice: Best option is saving the Salton Sea

April 11, 2002

I read Rudy Yniguez's story in the April 3 editorial carefully relating to his points on justifying water transfer to San Diego.

His points were not convincing. Nowhere did he cite the cost of water San Diego would pay nor did he mention that once the water is lost from Imperial County, it is gone forever!

Big developers and their lobbyists are a formidable water enemy to Imperial County. Let's hope the golden rule does not win out here, i.e., "He who has the gold rules." And the big developers have been spreading their gold all over Imperial County to win over converts to give Imperial County inexpensive water to San Diego.

Now, the real issue is not water for today's usage, but water for tomorrow and the next 50 years. Agriculture growth for Imperial County should be expected to double every 10 years for the next 50 years just to keep up with the population growth and decrease in agriculture from marginal-producing regions. California's gold today is in agriculture and water is the medium through which that gold is reached.


Rudy Yniguez should be writing about increased agriculture, not fallowing and certainly not transfer of Imperial County water to San Diego.

Continued high-level agriculture growth and the continued water runoff will maintain the level of Salton Sea as it exists today. Maintaining the current level is one of the main concerns for residents living along the Salton Sea Two other concerns are mitigation of eutrophication and stabilizing the salt content. A total systems approach to these issues would bring all three under management control and reasonable maintainment levels.

What is needed is the following: A comprehensive approach for building a desalting facility along the Salton Sea basin, an exploration of the best path along which to bring in sea water to the Salton Sea to replenish and make up for water lost from the desalting process and water shortfall from irrigation runoff, and finally, a comprehensive study for utilizing geothermal energy, solar energy and wind energy to provide electricity required to power the desalination facility and pumps for moving sea water into the Salton Sea basin and moving high saline water out of the basin.

This total systems approach is considered a "doable do" and will be the most cost-effective means for returning in the Salton Sea to the mid-1960s and 1970s that I remember for outstanding swimming and water skiing.

Counties along the coast are already building desalting facilities to help satisfy future water needs. It is projected from scaling studies that large-size facilities will bring the cost down to $800 per acre-foot of water. Utilizing local geothermal, wind and solar energy would bring this cost to, perhaps, $600 an acre-foot of water or less. This cost is not much higher than what San Diego should be asked to pay for Imperial County water.

Recently I had a conversation with the biologist at Lake Mission Viejo in Orange County about replenishment water for the lake. He told me the association pays $850 per acre-foot for Orange County water when needed. San Diego and Metropolitan Water District could be sold desalted Salton Sea water at a competitive cost for their future water needs.


Salton City

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