Voice: Move treated sewer water from coast to Salton Sea, use pump-back systems

June 19, 2002

At last, a voice of reality in the water transfer. The local ads by Maureen Stapleton have been political drivel, but the article in the Thursday, June 6, San Diego Union-Tribune by James F. Turner demonstrates honesty on the part of the San Diego County Water Authority.

Mr. Turner says San Diego is ready to pay the true costs of the water transfer, including the impact to the Salton Sea. The $50 million is omitted because it was an assumed amount that has changed significantly. Some real proposals can be put forward for evaluation, and progress can be made that should solve the snafu in the transfer. It must be done or the free water that California has been addicted to will be lost quickly. Let me put forth an idea that Steve Peace suggested years ago that now has more merit than at that time.

It has been suggested by the California Coastal Commission that San Diego and Orange counties should clean up their sewage water to a higher degree (standards that almost all cities in the U.S. must meet.) They also should find more agricultural and industrial uses for the water rather than simply dumping it into the ocean (sounds like a waste of scarce California water to me). I believe we can help with the agricultural category and perhaps the Salton Sea can help with another category, environmental protection. Imperial Valley agriculture has apparently been sustaining the Salton Sea with flows left over after using the water for the purpose for which it was intended, farming. That is not wasting water!


True conservation may be met by several methods that can be documented and will probably include pump-back systems. Most of the conservation methods will create new jobs and will not reduce agricultural jobs. As a plus, TMDLs will be reduced and will be a nice additional benefit for our farmers. In-flows from excess irrigation water will be lost to the Salton Sea but can be sufficiently replaced by treated sewage water from our coastal neighbors. Some of the water might even be used to grow cotton, Bermuda grass, sugar cane and other non-food crops.

At the same time, San Diego can assure itself of a continued waiver on excess sewage water for a considerable time. Everyone wins in this scenario. The only problem is the cost. With no new sources of water in sight and the loss of the excess flows from the Colorado River, what other choices remain?

Coachella should be included in this program also. The price that they proposed to pay was ridiculous. This will not be a water sale. Therefore if water is conserved and losses of water are replaced, Coachella would need to be an equal partner or do its own thing.

Sen. Feinstein is a reasonable and intelligent legislator and will see the merits of such a program. She will probably lend her assistance in making this water movement happen in a way that is beneficial to all parties.

Is this idea worth putting on the table? No fallowing needed! Will Imperial Valley residents unite in supporting such a program?



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