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4.5 Alternative 4: Joint USA/Mexico Solar Power Generation/Pumped Storage Laguna Salada Salt Disposal

This approach Figure 8 is a combination of six components:

1.A solar pond power plant, without an enhanced evaporation system, would be constructed along the southeast shore of the Sea. This facility would generate up to 960 MW and evaporate 64,800 ac-ft per year.

2.Wetlands would be constructed at the confluence of the Whitewater, Alamo and New Rivers. This would provide for additional wildlife habitat along the shore-line of the Sea as well as help to filter the water entering the fresh water enhanced shore-line area.

3. A 500 - 800 MW pumped storage facility would be constructed at the southwest side of the Sea with a 6,000 acre diked area in the Sea and a 2,000 acre lake at sea level. These areas would evaporate approximately 48,000 ac-ft each year.

4. A pipe or canal system would connect the upper lake of the pumped storage facility to the Laguna Salada and sized to discharge approximately 100,000 ac-ft of Salton Sea water to Laguna Salada.

5. A second solar pond power plant, that would also generate 960 MW, would be located in or near Laguna Salada. This power facility would utilize the Salton Sea water from the pipe or canal system connected to the pumped storage facility. The plant could evaporate approximately 64,800 ac-ft of water each year. The area would be designed with potential to expand power and evaporation capacities.

6. An area within, or near, Laguna Salada (10,000 - 15,000 acres) would be set aside to accommodate the salt disposal needs of the entire system.

4.5.1 Benefits of this Alternative

a .Salinity
This alternative combines several solutions that would remove over 210,000 ac-ft of water from the Sea and would thereby reduce salinity to ocean concentrations in approximately 15 years.

b. Surface Elevation Stabilization

Several components of this alternative address the issue of surface elevation stabilization: (1) a total of 177,600 ac-ft would be evaporated each year, (2) the pumped storage facility would divert over 100,000 ac-ft of Sea water each year (3) the construction of diked areas would reduce the overall size of the Sea, compensating for the withdrawals and evaporation of water.

c. Pollutant Control

The constructed wetlands at the mouths of the New and Alamo Rivers would assist in filtering pollutants such as selenium and remove excess nutrients through biological processes. Should constructed wetlands be inadequate to completely address nutrient loading and pollutant issues, other approaches could be explored as adjuncts. Such approaches could include pumping water with high concentrations of selenium into an aquifer to fix the selenium into the soil as selenite under anaerobic conditions. Other potential approaches include pumping water from under high selenium lands, reverse osmosis treatment at selected locations where selenium concentrations are highest, and selectively retiring farm lands where the concentrations of selenium are highest.

d. Additional Benefits

  • Up to 2,780 MW of solar power would be generated meeting the energy needs of Southern California and Mexico as well as generating revenue for the restoration of the Salton Sea.
  • The construction of a power facility in Mexico would offer the country additional power.
  • Financing may be available through a fund established by NAFTA, meant to encourage economic development and environmental clean up.
  • Offers a large area for the disposal of salt.
  • Environmentally sensitive power generation.

4.5.2 Issues Requiring Additional Consideration

The issues requiring further study include potential environmental impacts, market demand for the energy produced, and any international jurisdictional issues.

4.5.3 Long Term Management

As stated before, in looking beyond solving existing problems to creating new opportunities, the Authority should consider working with affected agencies and interests to develop more complete goals and objectives for the Salton Sea before implementing any remediation actions to enable the Authority to evaluate remediation alternatives in the context of longer term goals and objectives, and to identify opportunities created by the rehabilitation of the Sea and the best strategies for capitalizing on them.

Alternative # 4 Joint USA/Mexico Solar Power Generation/Pumped Storage Laguna Salada Disposal

Figure 8