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It is Dangermond & Associates recommendation that the current functions of the Salton Sea, which are listed below, should serve as the core objectives for the Salton Sea Authority. The realization of these objectives will most likely involve the implementation of several innovative improvements on the Sea that will bring with it a revenue source, as many existing alternatives for remediation are costly. Such recommendations for possible improvements on the Sea are also listed below. The planning team has sought to maintain the Sea's current functions through incorporating combinations of these improvements within the four alternatives outlined in the paper.

3.1 Current Functions of the Sea: The Core Objectives

The existing functions, which the Sea has historically served, should also serve as the core objectives for the Authority. These functions are:
  • Support agricultural activities in the Coachella and Imperial valleys by providing a drainage basin for agricultural run-off.
  • Provide recreation opportunities including sport fishing, boating, camping, and birding.
  • Provide wildlife habitat for resident and migratory species.
  • Provide an amenity for residential and commercial development, thus enhancing the local economy.
  • Assist with flood control in upstream communities by acting as a repository for storm run-off.

In order for the Sea to continue to provide these functions, remediation which addresses the problems of salinity, pollutants, and an unstable surface elevation must occur. These problems have not only contributed to the drastic decline of the Sea's functions, they have also decreased the functions ability to be self-sustaining. Historically the Salton Sea has proven to be a popular recreation destination for the greater Los Angeles and San Diego areas. In the 1970's the Salton Sea State Recreation Area was recording approximately 550,000 user days per year, while today the Recreation Area is recording approximately 85,000 per year. The same trend can be seen in fishing and development around the Sea as little or no new development has taken place within the last ten years and the once well know fishery has had a dramatic reduction in visitation. As the Sea continues to decline it will continue to loose valuable revenue opportunities that otherwise could be used to assure the protection and enhancement of the important functions the Sea has come to provide.

3.2 Possible Innovative Improvements

In evaluating both previously identified and new approaches to remediation and long term management needs, Dangermond & Associates and the planning team sought not only to maximize ways to enhance existing functions, but also how to reduce the overall cost for the continuation of these functions through several possible innovative improvements. The goal of these improvements is to create value in and around the Sea and/or to generate revenues which help offset the costs of the remediation and long term management.

The following possible innovative improvements have been identified:

  • Utilize the Sea's potential for power generation in designing remediation and management efforts.
  • Reclaim areas for other uses, such as agriculture or wildlife habitat, through diking to stabilize the elevation of the Sea. Either new use would create value and, either directly or indirectly create offsetting revenue.
  • Increase southern California's water supply and create revenue by harvesting and selling desalinized water and captured storm flows to water purveyors.
  • Develop additional habitat values and reclaim agricultural run-off for additional use through constructed wetlands.
  • Utilize created wetlands habitat as a mitigation bank to generate revenue.
  • Create new land use and economic development opportunities and the mechanisms to capture a portion of the revenues generated from these.


Three alternative approaches for remediation of some of the problems besetting the Sea have previously been identified by various agencies. These can be described as (1) the Evaporation/Solar Pond Systems approach, (2) the In-Sea Impoundment approach, and (3) the Pumpout/Gulf Waterway approach. Because these have been described elsewhere, and because each by itself fails to address some of the problems, this white paper does not further discuss these individual alternatives, however, they are shown in Figures 1 - 3. This section of the white paper instead focuses on four additional approaches to remediation of the existing problems which combine elements of the earlier alternatives with new concepts. Table 1, on the following page, provides a comparison of the earlier approaches with the four alternatives discussed in this report.

4.1 Potential Shore-Line Enhancements for the Salton Sea
Many of the previously mentioned existing and potential future functions of the Sea revolve around the Sea's shore-line. These functions can ultimately increase the overall value to the Sea via revenue generation, enhancing aesthetics of the sea and creating a sense of place. As quality enhancements develop along the Sea's shore-line, a greater understanding and appreciation of the Sea will build among the public, bringing additional opportunities and quality restoration. Benefits that could be derived from shore-line enhancements may include: reclaimed agricultural lands, recreation opportunities, wildlife habitat, residential and commercial development opportunities and power generation opportunities (Figure 4).

Shore-line enhancements can be incorporated into each one of the following alternatives for the remediation of the Salton Sea.