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[This document summarizes the 1988 status of the Salton Sea, its problems and their potential solutions. Gulf waterway enthusiasts will note with interest that the 1988 cost estimate for this option was only $250,000,000! You missed your big chance! An especially valuable sectioon of the document is Appendix F, a 59-page "summary of the institutional and legal structure and requirements which will apply to the primary Salton Sea management options being considered." Many government agencies have powers and responsibilities with respect to the Sea and this appendix is the best available introduction as to who is responsible for what. Its relevance has been little altered by the recent formation of new entities such as the Salton Sea Authority. S. Hurlbert, SDSU, December 1998]

Problems and Potential Solutions at Salton Sea

Developed for:
The California Resources Agency
 

Developed by:
Meyer Resources, Inc.
Davis, CA

July, 1988

Table of Contents

Page

Executive Summary

i

1. A Brief Background

1

2. Present Significant Problems

3

i ) Flooding

3

ii) Salinity

4

iii) Pollution

4

3. Values at Stake at Salton Sea

6

a) General Economic Activity--and the Role of Agriculture

6

b) Land Values at the Sea

7

c) Recreation at Salton Sea

9

d) Potential Economic Impact With and Without Control of Salinity and Associated Problems at Salton Sea

11

4. Goals and Objectives of Present Agencies/Interests at Salton Sea

13

5. Authorities and Responsibilities - Existing Conditions

19

6. Likely Physical Trends Affecting the Future of Salton Sea

21

i) Decreased Drainage Inflow to Salton Sea

21

ii) Increasing Salinity at Salton Sea

22

iii) Pollution

22

iv) Recreation/Retirement Complexes in the Northwest quadrant of the Sea

22

v) Increasing Importance of Solar Energy

23

7. Remedial Alternatives at Salton Sea

23

A. Options to Stabilize Salinity and Sea Level

23

1. Pumpout/Kesalination/Solar Generation

23

2. A Saltwater Impoundment in Salton Sea

24

3. Gulf Waterway Option

25

B. Supplementary Options

26

1. Colorado River Surges

26

2. Pump-back of Brine Water to Yuma

26

C. Dealing with Pollution at Salton Sea

27

1. Cleanup of the New River

27

2. Cleanup of the Alamo River

28

3. Management of Selenium at Salton Sea

28

8. Programs Affecting Salton Sea

29

9. Options for Improvement of the Salton Sea

31

a) Coordination of Remedial Efforts at Salton Sea

32

b) Availability of Knowledge, the Issue of Timing and Salinity Targets at Salton Sea

33

c) Present Status and Future Requirements for Remedial Options at Salton Sea

36

d) A General Strategy for Remedial Action at Salton Sea

38

e) Contributions to Remedial Action at Salton Sea

40

f) Feasibility of Action Beyond 1991-94

43

i) Equity in Supporting Remedial Action at Salton Sea

44

ii) Potential Fiscal Resources Available to Remedial Work at Salton Sea

48

h) Options for Improvement at Salton Sea--A Conclusion

53

10. Organizational Options Associated with Remedy at Salton Sea

56

a) Timing for Resolution of Organizational Issues

56

b) Focus of Organization Discussion

56

i) Organizational Leadership in the Interim 1988-90 Period

57

ii) Efficiency in Maintaining Remedial Momentum at Salton Sea

57

iii) Need for a Coordinated Funding Plan

58

vi) Information/Access for Other idnterested Parties

58

v) A Summary of Organization Options for the 1988-90 Period

59

Appendix A  Historic Salton Sea Water Budget

63

Appendix B Components of Inflow to Salton Sea

64

Appendix C  Historical Change to Salton Sea Salinity and Elevation

65

Appendix D

Comments on Salton Sea by the U.S. Envirnomental Protection Agency

66

Appendix E

References

70

Appendix F

Summary Analysis of Authorities and Responsibilities Associated with the Salton Sea [separate file]

Appendix G

A Review of the Potential Biological Responses to Salinity Changes in the Salton Sea [separate file]

  Executive Summary

This report identifies present progress and future opportunities to manage salinity levels and potential flooding at Salton Sea. It also discusses ongoing activity to control pollution at the Sea and in the New and Alamo River drainages.

There is near unanimous agreement between involved agencies and interests that major beneficial uses associated with the Sea mainly, disposition of agricultural drainwater, sport fishing, nature enjoyment, general recreation and residential/retirement activity should be preserved and, if possible, enhanced. Conversely, failure to control the increasing salinity gradient in the Sea (now at about 41,000 ppm), as well as to effectively manage flooding and pollution, will force action by a number of federal, state and local agencies (Table I). The choice is not, therefore, between action and no action-but between action and reaction.

Three general alternatives capable of improved salinity control and flood management have been identified. These alternatives are: construction of an in-Sea impoundment to concentrate salts through evaporation, leaving salinity in the balance of the Sea at lower levels; pumping water out of the Sea, evaporating the water, and using residual salts to generate Solar energy; and constructing a waterway capable of accommodating pleasure craft from the Salton Sea to the Gulf of California, to effect water exchange. The estimated costs of these alternatives range from $100 million to $350 million. Anticipated benefits from control of salinity, flooding and pollution are expected to be much greater, however.

Each alternative has its own interested supporters. Further, necessary scientific data to estimate required salinity targets at the Sea will not be available until mid-1990. This suggests an incremental approach to problem solving at the Sea: developing needed scientific data over the next two year period; developing the three identified alternatives further and establishing a detailed funding strategy for each during the same period; and making a decision on which alternative(s) should be fully implemented subsequent to establishment of salinity targets in 1990. This progression is outlined in Figure 1 (pg. 39). Such an incremental strategy will be essential to effective remedy of the Sea's problems. The remedies proposed are large scale and complex and will only be achieved by continued effort over several years. Such remedies have significant financial requirements, dictating development of a similarly measured and sophisticated funding approach, if implementation is to be successful. Lack of such a coordinated funding approach has likely been a major impediment to resolution of problems at the Sea over the past two decades.

Considerable progress has already been made along these lines during present analysis. The key to this progress has been the association of interested participants with each of the remedial alternatives identified. These groups are referred to as "action teams" in our report, and can play a leading role in progressive management of the problems identified. They are identified in Table II. Financial resources to pursue recommended interim tasks: to set salinity standards; to update the In-Sea Impoundment option; and to conduct a reconnaissance evaluation of the Gulf Waterway option are in hand, or are likely to be obtained shortly. The Pumpout/Evaporation/Solar option is ready for modular testing and development. Its immediate funding needs are consequently more substantial. Some funding and in kind support has already been committed to this option, and interested parties are working with the Facilitator to develop further funding. The present status of recommended programs is described in Table III.

In sum, we have concluded that remedy at Salton Sea is desired by virtually all parties, would be beneficial and is possible. We have identified a progressive strategy to that end. Actual movement by interested agencies toward the potential remedies indicated in our report can already be observed.

Table I
A Summary of Principal Agency Authorities and Responsibilities,
Should Adverse Trends at Salton Sea Continue
Adverse Trends
Triggering Event
Principal Responsible
Agencies

1.

Salinity continues to increase

l a.

Exceeds specified standard(s)

- RWQCB
-SWRCB
-EPA
-USBR

l b.

Adversely affects fish and wildlife

-CF&G
-FWS
-RWQCB
-SWRCB

2.

Pollution at unsatisfactory levels

2 a.

Exceeds health standards

-CA. Dept. of Health Services
-RWQCB
-SWRCB
-EPA
-Gov't of Mexico
-Int'l Boundary & Water Comm.
-USBR

2 b.

Adversely affects fish or wildlife

-CF&G
-FWS

3.

Water levels at the Sea increase

3 a.

Flooding

-SWRCB
-IID
-CVWD
-Imperial County
-Riverside County.
-CA Parks & Recreation
-USBRA

The scope of USBR involvement cannot be definitively stated at this stage.

Table II
Potential Participants--Remedial Action over the 1988-1990 Period
Action Team
Task (s)
Potential Participants

1.

Salinity Standards & Water Quality

l a.

Complete salinity studies for sport fish.

CF&G
SWRCB
RWQCB
EPA
FWS

2.

In-Sea Impoundment

2 a.

Update cost analysis.

CVWD

2 b.

Consider seismic risk issue

3.

Pumpout/Evaporation/Solar

3 a.

Test module.

IID
Imp. County
ORMAT
CA Energy Comm.
USBR
CF&G
FWS
DWR(?)

4.

Gulf Waterway

4 a.

Conduct reconnaissance analysis.

Corps
USBR
CF&G
FWS
CA. Boating &Waterways

Preliminary, subject to revision.

Table III
Present Status of Action Teams-Remedial Action at Salton Sea
Action Team
Agency
Status of 1988-90 Tasks

1.

Salinity Standards & Water Quality

l a.

CF&G

l a.

Has resources to complete by mid-1990.

l b.

RWQCB
SWRCB
EPA
FWS

l b.

Continued monitoring, testing & development of water quality standards.

l b.

Interface with action teams re. requirements & funding of alternatives.

2.

In-Sea Impoundment

2.

CVWD

2.

Will complete by mid1990

3.

Pumpout/Evaporation/ Solar

3 a.

IID
ORMAT

3 a.

Have committed Imp. Cnty. $100,000.

3 b.

USBR

3 b.

Has committed to conduct feasibility analysis of Yuma saline return line.

3 c.

CF&G
FWS

3 c.

Have committed to "in-kind" participation in module design &testing.

3 d.

All team entities (see Table II)

3 d.

Have agreed to explore avenues for funding support

3 e.

All team entities

3 e.

Have agreed to scope module project &assign sub-tasks.

4.

Gulf Waterway

4 a.

Corps

4 a.

Will likely agree to conduct physical structure reconnaissance study.

4 b.

USBR

4 b.

Has agreed to conduct reconnaissance evaluation of potential environmental impacts.

4 c.

CF&G
FWS
CA. Boating & Waterways

4 c.

Have agreed to participate in above reconnaissance analysis.

1. A Brief Background

The Salton Sea is a terminal lake, created by accidental flooding from the Colorado River at the turn of the century. Since 1920, the Sea has served as a depository for agricultural irrigation drainage. The Sea also receives storm runoff and scant amounts of rainfall. The drainage water, and in fact, Colorado River water used for irrigation, contains dissolved salts, and this factor, together with evaporation in the area's desert environment has created a saline sea, which, for the past several decades, has approximated ocean salinities [ocean salinity is about 35,000 parts per million (ppm)]. As a result, sport fish were introduced from the ocean, state and federal wildlife refuges were established at the Sea, and activity infrastructure focusing on recreators (primarily boating and fishing) and retirement residences began to expand and prosper.

In recent years, serious concern has been evident over the Sea's future. The trend toward increasing salinity of Sea waters was temporarily abated in the late 1970's and early 1980's, but this was achieved by relatively high levels of water inflow into the Sea from rivers and drains (the Sea's only source of "fresh" water), which caused flooding. Salinity in the Sea now exceeds 40,00 ppm, and while there is not yet substantive measurable evidence of fishery decline, damage to the Sea's fish populations, attendant loss of significant portions of dependent wildlife and increased unpleasant odors from the Sea itself can be predicted with certainty if salinity increases continue. Concern over pollution, both organic and inorganic, has also been evident in recent years.

The Sea continues as a viable depository of agricultural drainage from the Imperial and Coachella Valleys today. However, recreational use of the Sea has declined markedly, largely, it appears, as a result of recent posted warnings against human contact with the Sea in some areas and respecting consumption of fish. The envisioned broader recreation residential potential of the Sea is also clearly not being realized. (See Section 4).

Finally, the conditions and trends outlined here are expected to continue if left to take their own course. Such evolution threatens the approximate 100,000 residents of Imperial County, and those residents of Riverside County living in the Coachella Valley, especially persons who value the Sea for resident/recreational purposes, and/or who gain economic benefit from the recreational infrastructure dependent on it. This may be particularly important in Imperial County, where per capita income is lower than the state average, and unemployment often reaches significant levels. Important recreational opportunity for residents of California's populous south coastal area will also be preempted, and national and state wildlife resources will be lost. The Torres-Martinez Indian Reservation is found along the Sea's northwest shore, and would be negatively impacted by these trends.

While threats posed by conditions at Salton Sea are significant, solutions are neither easy nor inexpensive, and are clearly beyond the capabilities of local entities along.

2. Present Significant Problems

i) Flooding

Flooding may not be the most serious problem at Salton Sea, but it is among the most immediate. In 1949, the Sea's elevation stood at 240 feet below Sea Level. Levels gradually increased in subsequent years--and reached a high of 226.6 feet below sea level in 1983, assisted in that year by extensive storm-related runoff. Basic data of Sea levels and water balances are included in Appendix A.

This approximate 13 1/2 foot increase in level of the Sea has flooded several areas near the Sea, and fairly extensive litigation has ensued. The objective of Imperial County, and others, is to prevent future shoreline development below elevation--220 feet. this is about 7 feet above the flood highs of 1983, and should pose an absolute upper level constraint for future planning affecting the Sea. A "desirable" construct might see establishment of a lower absolute Sea level, perhaps approximating 230 feet below sea level--so that some of the flooded shore lands might be reclaimed. This would have the sea declining at least 3 1/2 feet from 1984 levels, to achieve elevations in effect in about 1875.

Parsons (1985) provides historic data on flows of water into Salton Sea through 1984 (Appendix B). In the 1981-84 period, the Sea received an average of 1.3 million acre feet of "fresh" water annually. Of this total 79, percent comes from irrigation drainage, 16 percent from Mexico via the New and Alamo Rivers, and the balance from "other" sources. Of these sources, inflows from IID and CVWD appear to have been decreasing, while flows from Mexico have been increasing.

In sum, potential flooding at Salton Sea likely serves as a constraint on remedial planning. For a variety of reasons, flows from Mexico have been the least predictable contributors to Salton Sea inflow in the past.

ii) Salinity

While flooding provides a constraint to remedial management at Salton Sea, the focal issue at the Sea for more than a decade has involved salinity, which has increased fairly steadily since 1955 until it now exceeds 40,000 ppm (Appendix C). This may be approaching the upper range of tolerance for sport fish species that inhabit the Sea. Increased salinity is occurring because the Sea is a closed sink and evaporation in the Sea concentrates the salts found in Colorado River water supplies. (Again see Appendix A). In sum, any attempt to stabilize salinity levels in the Sea must consider both volume and salinity of inflow to the Sea; surface area of the Sea and related evaporation; and any removal of saline water from the Sea.

iii) Pollution

Significant localized pollution problems exist at or near Salton Sea. The New River, which flows into the United States from Mexicali, and hence runs northward through farm land to the Salton Sea has been a focal point of concern. At the border, the New River flows at about 350 cfs, an increase from about 50 cfs in 1950. This increased flow has resulted from expanded agricultural activity in Mexico, and from growth of Mexicali, now an urban industrial area of over 1 million people. The waters of the New River are grossly polluted where they cross the international boundary. About half of Mexicali is without a sewer system, and considerable human, livestock and industrial waste finds its way untreated into the River. Specifics are provided in a 1987 report by Montgomery Engineers for California Regional Water Quality Control Board. On the immediate United States side of the boarder, the waters of the New River are posted as dangerous to humans, and also provide an attractive breeding ground for mosquitoes that carry encephalitis.

As the New River flows northward toward Salton Sea it is joined by agricultural drain water, substantially increasing flows at the River mouth, and diluting pollutants from the upper river. Nonetheless, health warnings are present at the river mouth, as are strong adverse odors. The necessity of dealing with a foreign country complicates effective management of this ongoing problem.

Selenium has also been detected in concentrations that sometimes exceed EPA advisory levels, in portions of the Salton Sea. A review of these standards is presently underway. Concentrations do not appear sufficient to result in large scale preemption of agricultural activity in the Imperial Valley, although basic data is still being collected.

Action to address both the New River and selenium pollution problems affecting Salton Sea will be required. That action will most probably focus on treatment of New River flows just north of the international boundary, and on some adjustment in practices associated with management of agricultural drain water. Momentum toward best management practices in agriculture, and to control Colorado River selenium impacts will also 1ikely contribute positively to overall management of the selenium issue.

Management of pollution problems is not interconnected directly to salinity and flooding issues. Our approach here will be to first focus on salinity and flooding issues, and then consider pollution management in a following section.

3. Values at Stake at Salton Sea

a) General Economic Activity -- and the Role of Agriculture

Agriculture is the largest contributor to the economic well-being of Imperial County, producing average annual gross crop revenue of $733 million during the 1984-86 period and over 11,000 jobs (County of Imperial, 1987). Government is the second largest employer in the county, providing about 8,000 jobs annually. An overall profile of wage and salary employment is provided in Table 1.

Table 1
Employment Profile for Imperial County
Industry
Number of Jobs (1986)
Percent of Total

Agriculture
Government
Wholesale/Retail
  & Commerce Services
Mining, Construction
  & Transportation Manufacturing
All Industries

11,200
8,025
7,975
4,025
2,875
1,325
34,800

32
23
23
12
8
4

*Numbers do not add to 100 due to rounding.
Source: County of Imperial (1987).

Per capita income in Imperial County is lower, while unemployment is higher than for the state as a whole (Table 2).

Table 2
Per Capita Income and Rate of Unemployment-

Imperial County and the State of California

Imperial County
California

Per Capita Income (1984)
Rate of Unemployment (1986)

$9,980
23.9%

$14,374
6.6%


Sources


: County of Imperial (1987)
: Department of Finance (1987)
: County Supervisors Association of California (1987)

Only an eastern portion of Riverside County abutts the Sea, in the Coachella Valley area. According to the Coachella Valley Water District (CVWD), crops serviced by CVWD are also of major significance, generating some $286 million in farm revenue in 1985. Riverside County varies considerably, from its urbanized western extremities to more rural eastern districts. Consequently, the overall county per capita income figure of $13,030 (1984) and unemployment rate of 7.8 percent may overstate economic well-being in Coachella Valley. Even then, Riverside County's overall employment rate was only 37th out 59 counties in 1986.

  b) Land Values at the Sea

Land values are another important parameter particularly affected by Salton Sea. Development Research Associates (1969) reported lot values between $2,000 and $4,000 around Salton Sea. In 1972, USBR did a land sales analysis at the Sea, finding an average value of $4,300 per improved lot. They further concluded the land values around Salton Sea were heavily dependent upon an attractive Sea environment.

"...99 percent (plus) of the vacant land value is attributable to the Salton Sea". (pg. 24)

Finally, USBR noted that no significant trend toward increased 1 and value around the Sea was then evident. We also We also checked present lot values at the Sea with appraisers in Imperial and Riverside counties. Information obtained from these sources and from earlier cited studies are displayed in Table 3.

Table 3
Data on Serviced Residential Lot Prices-
-Salton Sea and Surrounding Areas
Area
1969
1972
Land Value
At present

-------------------------------------$------------------------------------

On Salton Sea
Salton City
Desert Shores
Date Palm Beach
North Shore Beach Estates
Mecca
Coachella
Indio
Bermuda Dunes
  -Non-Country Club
  -Country Club off     Fairway
  -Fairway Homes

2,000-4,000
4,300

2,500-4,000
6,000-6,500
1,000-1,500
2,500
3,000-5,000
8,500-10,000
12,000-18,000

10,000-12,000
30,000

50,000
 

Data from Coachella, Indio and Bermuda Dunes are included to illustrate the step-up as one leaves the Sea, moves progressively through Coachella and Indio, and then enters the higher value residential/retirement communities expanding eastward from Palm Springs. Table 3 suggests that lot values adjacent to the Sea have changed little over the past 20 years.

  c) Recreation at Salton Sea

Recreation has been an important traditional focus at Salton Sea. Referencing preliminary data for CIC Research (1988) for the California Department of Fish and Game, the following usership may be inferred for the Sea (Table 4).

 
Table 4
Estimated Southern California Households Visiting Salton Sea

Households Visiting
in Past 12 Months
Households Visiting, but
Not in Past 12 Months

County

_Percent
%
Households
_(1986)_
'000
_Percent_
%
Households
_(1986)_

Imperial
Riverside
Los Angeles
Orange
San Bernardino
San Diego
Ventura
Santa Barbara
San Luis Obispo

14.9
2.7
2.9
2.1
4.8
4.0
2.3
2.0
1.5
4.9
8.3
86.6
16.5
18.4
31.2
5.2
2.5
1.1
16.8
20.7
10.8
9.6
22.8
14.8
7.0
6.6
7.0
5.5
63.6
322.5
75.4
87.4
115.4
15.8
8.2
5.1

Total

_______
3.9
_______
174.7
______
13.1
______
698.9

The CIC study reported fishing as the most important motive for visiting the Sea, followed by camping, picnicking and boating. Applying preliminary data from an intercept survey in the same report, it may be inferred that the participation levels identified in Table 4 support a total of 1.6 million recreation days annually at Salton Sea. Using a further CIC (1988) preliminary expenditure estimate of $218.58 per trip, annual recreational expenditures of $103.1 million can be associated with Salton Sea recreation. Finally, respondents to the CIC survey indicated that they considered Salton Sea a major recreational area, that improvements to wildlife and fishing at the Sea were required, and that they would be willing to pay a small fee to achieve these objectives.

In 1969, Development Research Associates (DRA) completed a comprehensive analysis of benefits associated with Salton Sea. This study is of interest for two reasons. First, it provides a relative measure of recreational use, compared to the more recent CIC preliminary estimate. Second, it developed a careful estimate of economic benefits to the Salton Sea area with and without effective management of salinity at the Sea.

User estimates for 1967 by DRA amounted to approximately 1.5 million annual recreation days. This is very close to the estimate of million days inferred from 1987-88 CIC data and suggests that as with land values, recreational use in the Salton Sea area seem little changed over the past two decades.

  d) Potential Economic Impact With and Without Control of Salinity and Associated Problems at Salton Sea

Since the early studies by Development Research Associates (DRA) (1969) and USBR (1972), considerable effort and discussion has occurred, but no effective remedial focus has yet been established and implemented with respect to problems of salinity, flooding and pollution at Salton Sea. As a result, recreational participation, land values and general levels of economic activity around the Sea have not changed much over the past two decades, and have not kept pace with trends in adjacent Southwestern California. In this sense, failure to deal effectively with the Sea's problems can be equated with loss of significant potential economic and social benefits.

The DRA study seems particularly useful for measuring benefits foregone, for the recreational participation rates and land values that they considered in 1969 still approximately hold around the Sea today, while risks to fish and wildlife resources have increased. Combining estimates from the DRA study, updated to present dollars, with preliminary results from CIC (1988), we can develop policy level estimates of benefits at stake at Salton Sea. These estimates do not provide a detailed forecast of future economic options. Such a forecast would require far more detailed data and analysis than is provided here. Data is considered sufficient, however, to develop "order of magnitude" estimates of potential gains or losses associated with management of the Sea. Results are presented in Table 5. Procedures are as follows.

i) For the "no solution alternative", assume general recreation remains at present levels, then drops to half after the year 2000, when fish and fifty percent of wildlife are assumed to disappear. This is more optimistic than the scenario used by DRA;

ii) Relate preliminary recreational direct expenditure data from CIC to the adjusted trend lines;

iii) Update DRA estimates of residential construction values at Salton Sea, to present dollars;

iv) Update DRA's estimates of increase in recreation-oriented commercial construction activity, to present dollars;

v) Assume construction values for new residences and for recreation-related commercial establishments increase by 2.25% annually if fish and half of wildlife are lost. This may be an optimistic projection.

Table 5
Potential Economic Values Associated with Effective
Management at Salton Sea

Year

Recreational
Expenditures
Value of
Housing Construction
Recreation-Related
Commercial Construction

Solution
No
Solution
Solution
No
Solution
Solution
No
Solution

1987
2000
2010
2020

103.1
165.6
347.3
372.1
103.1
103.1
51.6
51.6
129.2
252.0
573.3
919.8
129.2
172.5
215.5
269.2
3.0
6.7
21.1
25.6
3.0
4.0
56.2.0

Again, these estimates are conjectural and are presented for comparative policy purposes. They are, however, generally reflective of prior economic analysis and ongoing conditions at Salton Sea. They suggest that effective management of salinity, flooding and pollution problems at Salton Sea could generate over $200 million in additional annual recreation expenditures, and at least $670 million in additional construction activity. These estimates could very well be conservative, particularly as they fail to incorporate likely increases in land value associated with the enhancement process.

In conclusion, the importance of the Sea's role for agriculture must be reemphasized. Our discussion of economic stakes at Salton Sea has focused on value foregone by residential and recreational complexes, should the Sea's problems remain unresolved. Agricultural productivity has been, and remains today the most important economic activity dependent on Salton Sea (recall Section 3a). Consequently, actions to capture the substantial benefits illustrated in Table 5 must be consistent with protection of the traditional agricultural benefits that have sustained the region.

4. Goals and Objectives of Present Agencies/Interests at Salton Sea

Based on foregoing discussion of economic stakes and ongoing problems at Salton Sea, the goals and objectives of existing affected entities are fairly predictable. Tables 6 and 7 summarize these objectives, based on a formalized survey taken during our ongoing study period. Not all agencies answered the survey in the same way, and some interests have not yet responded. The results presented here are consequently "as received by this date". Further, EPA provided narrative response. This is enclosed in Appendix D. Table 6 summarizes returns from agencies indicating "direct involvement's in each indicated use only. Table 7 supplies a broader indication of relative support, regardless of whether a direct linkage exists or not.

Table 6
Priorities Respecting Future Use of Salton Sea -
- For Agencies/Interests Having Direct Involvement

Uses

CVWD
Imperial
County
IID
CF&G
EC

FWS

Ass. BradIey's
Office

Receive Ag.
Drainwater

R
S
R
--
--
--
R

ReceiveTreated
Waste

R
SS
--
--
--
--
--

Boating

--
R
--
--
--
R
--

Fishing

--
R
--
S
--
R
--

Parks

--
R
--
S
--
R
--

Mining

--
R
--
--
--
--
--

Geothermal
Development

--
R
--
--
--
--
--

Solar Energy

--
S
R
--
SS
--
--

Shoreline
Residential

--
S
--
--
--
--
--

Storm Runoff

--
R
--
--
--
--
--

Untreated Waste

--
N
N
N
--
--
--

Legend: R =
S =
SS =
N =

Required use
Used supported
Use somewhat supported
Use should not be permitted

 
Table 7
Priorities Respecting Future Use of Salton Sea -- All Agencies and Interests

Uses

CVWD
Imperial
County
IID
CF&G
EC
USBR
FWS

Ass. BradIey's
Office

Salton Sea
Coord.
Council

Receive Ag.
Drainwater

R
S
R
S
--
S
S
R
S

ReceiveTreated
Waste

R
SS
S
SS
--
S
--
SS
SS

Boating

S
R
S
SS
--
--
R
S
S

Swimming

S
SS
S
S
--
--
--
S
S

Fishing

S
R
S
S
--
--
R
S
S

Parks

S
R
S
S
--
--
R
S
S

Mining

S
R
SS
SS
--
--
--
N
N

Geothermal
Development

--
R
--
--
--
--
--
--
--

Solar Energy

S
S
R
S
SS
S
--
S
S

Shoreline
Residential

S
S
SS
S
--
--
SS
S
S

Storm Runoff

--
R
--
--
--
--
--
--
--

Gulf
Waterway

--
SS
SS
SS
--
--
SS
S
S

Untreated
Waste

N
N
N
N
--
N
N
N
N

Legend: R =
S =
SS =
N =

Required use
Used supported
Use somewhat supported
Use should not be permitted

Legend: See Table 6

Tables 6 and 7 indicate that failure to resolve problems at Salton Sea cannot be related to lack of common objectives. While each agency or interest sees its own particular objectives as unique, there is a broad tolerance of the interests of others. Table 8 considers future action priorities at the Sea, for those agencies/interests who consider themselves directly affected. Table 9 provides the same priority information for all agencies/interests, whether affected or not.

 

Table 8
Action Priorities at Salton Sea -- Directly Affected Agencies/Interests

Action

CVWD
Imperial
County
IID
CF&G
FWS
EPA

Control Salinity
to Protect F i s h

--
B
--
R
R
R

Lower Sea Level

R
--
R
B
B
--

Stabilize Sea Level

R
R
R
B
R
--

EstablishMinimum
Elevation Around Sea
for Development

--
R
R
--
--
--

Treat New River
Pollution

--
R
--
--
R
R

Treat Alamo
River Pollution

--
R
?
B
R
R

Control Selenium

?
R
--
--
--
--

Turn Sea into Waste
Depository

N
N
--
N
N
--

Raise SeaLevel

N
--
N
--
--
--

Legend: R =
B =
N =
? =

Action is required
Action would be beneficial
Action would not be beneficial
More research is needed to define problem (if any)

Table 9
Action Priorities at Salton Sea -- All Agencies

Action

CVWD
Imperial
County
IID
CF&G
Calif.
Health
Serv.
USBR
FWS

Ass. BradIey's
Office

Salton Sea
Coord.
Council

Salton
Sea
Coord.
Council

Control
Salinity to
Protect Fish

B
B
B
R
B
B
R
R
B
B

Lower Sea
Level

R
--
R
B
--
B
B
--
N
B

Stabilize
Seal Level

R
R
R
B
--
B
R
--
B
B

Establish
Minimum
Elevation
Around Sea
for Develop.

B
R
R
--
--
B
--
--
B
N

Treat New
River Pollution

B
R
B
B
B
--
R
R
B
B

Treat Alamo
River Pollution

--
R
--
--
--
--
--
--
--
--

Control
Selenium

?
R
?
B
B
B
R
R
B
B

Turn Sea
into Waste
Depository

N
N
--
N
N
--
N
--
N
N

Raise Sea
Level

N
--
N
N
--
N
--
--
N
N

Legend: See Table 8

Again, there is considerable agreement over actions to be taken at Salton Sea. It is our consequent conclusion that impediments to effective action do not lie in the area of consensus on "requirements or "needs".

5. Authorities and Responsibilities - Existing Conditions

Failure to resolve problems at Salton Sea will likely trigger required actions by a number of federal, state and local agencies. The nature of these legal responsibilities, together with associated response to the major remedial alternatives identified in this report, are generally discussed in Appendix F. In Table 10, we identify the major issues, triggering events and agencies where action will likely be required as a result of such events. It should be emphasized that this tabular presentation is in summary form. Readers should consult Appendix E for a more extensive discussion of potential agency authorities and responsibilities. In fact, it will be recognized that, given the time and resources available to our project, Appendix E is itself somewhat summary in nature.

Finally, we do not represent that Table 10 identifies all legally responsible agencies. Rather, we have attempted to identify obvious responsibilities, taking the perspective that these agencies may very well have lead involvement, should the adverse events identified in the table occur.

Table 10
A Summary of Principal Agency Authorities and Responsibilities,
Should Adverse Trends at Salton Sea Continue

Adverse Trends

Triggering Event

Principal Responsible
Agencies

1.

Salinity continues
to increase

l a.

Exceeds specified
standard(s

-RWQCB
-SWRCB
-EPA
-USBR*

2.

Pollution at unsatisfactory
l evels

1 b.

Adversely affects
fish and wildlife

-CF&G
-FWS
-RWQCB
-SWRCB

2 a.

Exceeds health standards

-CA. Dept. of
Health Services
-RWQCB
-SWRCB
-EPA
-Gov't of Mexico
-Int'l Boundary
& Water Comm.
-USBR

2 b.

Adversely affects
fish or wildlife

-CF&G
-FWS

3.

Water levels at the Sea increase

3 a.

Flooding

-SWRCB
-IID
-CVWD
-Imp. County
-Riverside Cty.
-CA Parks & Rec.
-USBR

*The scope of USBR involvement cannot be definitively stated at this stage.

From Table 10, we conclude that the State Water Resource Control Board (SWRCB) and the Regional Water Quality Control Board (RWQCB) have significant responsibilities in all issue areas, both with respect to maintenance of appropriate quality standards and protection of beneficial uses. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) and the California Department of Fish and Game (CF&G) also have significant lead responsibilities. It would appear that local responsibilities are most prevalent with respect to the flooding issue. in the time available, our legal experts were not a b 1 e to reach a firm option concerning the responsibilities of the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation (USBR). While USBR has significant involvement in events at Salton Sea, we have consequently left this as a question.

It is our conclusion, based on Table 10, that "taking no action" is not a choice at Salton Sea. If adverse trends continue, agencies with legal authority and responsibility will eventually be forced to act. The management choice, then, is rather one of action versus reaction with respect to adverse events at Salton Sea.

6. Likely Physical Trends Affecting the Future of Salton Sea

i) Decreased Drainage Inflow to Salton Sea

Consumable water is becoming an increasingly valuable and sought after resource in California. In this context, the State Water Resources Control Board recently directed IID to introduce practices that would conserve greater amounts water in the Imperial Valley. That order is presently being litigated. At the same time, however, IID has developed a water conservation plan and is introducing conservation measures into its water system. IID (1986) estimates that an actual annual savings of 358,000 acre feet might be achieved by such measures- implying a reduction in annual drainage inflow to the Sea of slightly less than this amount. Reductions in inflow of about 15,000 acre feet annually of relatively high quality reclaimed water from wastewater treatment plants are expected during the next decade (Levy, 1986). As the Central Arizona Project goes into full operation, cutbacks in inflows from Mexico via the New River are also expected. Taking these factors together, significant cutbacks of inflow into the Salton Sea are expected over the next decade, perhaps eventually reducing annual inflows to 1 million acre feet of less. This can, in turn, be expected to reduce Sea level.

ii) Increasing Salinity at Salton Sea

It was earlier observed that salinity has increased at Salton Sea since 1955. The conservation measures cited above can be expected to accelerate this trend. Consequently, it is reasonable to assume that without remedial action, marine life in the Salton Sea will eventually die off, and that recreational/retirement activity based on fishing will decline, or at least fall behind other Southern California areas.

iii) Pollution

As Mexicali grows in size, and water flows from Mexico decline, pollution concentrations in the New River will increase. As we have noted, efforts are currently underway to address this issue on both sides of the border. We expect progress to be made but are not optimistic, under existing conditions, that a complete solution is yet in. sight.

iv) Recreation/Retirement Complexes in the Northwest Quadrant of the e-a

High value desert retirement /recreation communities have spread eastward from Palm Springs until they are now only a few miles from the northwesterly boarder of the Sea. This advance to the east and south is expected to continue, and will introduce a new element to the Sea's future over the next decade. The essential question will be whether these developments capitalize on the Sea as a major recreational amenity, or avoid it due to fish and bird die-offs, and any other noxious effects.

v) Increasing Importance of Solar Energy

At present, large scale production of solar energy from salt ponds does not appear commercially feasible in the United States. Energy experts predict, however, that it will become increasingly so over the next 1 to 2 decades. Small piloting facilities have recently come online in the U.S., and Israel is pioneering solar salt pond development at the Dead Sea. Salton Sea has obvious potential in that regard.

7. Remedial Alternatives at Salton Sea

In the course of this and previous analyses, a number of alternative actions that would move toward eventual stabilization of Salton Sea have been identified. These options are briefly described in this section. First , three actions, and two potentially complementary actions to stabilize salinity and flooding at the Sea are identified. Then the general characteristics of a program to control pollution are discussed.

  A. Options to Stabilize Salinity and Sea Level

1. Pumpout / Desalination / Solar Generation

One alternative proposed for Salton Sea has involved pumpout of Sea water onto land, where it is evaporated, leaving saline residue. In a subsequent step, this residue could be utilized in a solar plant to generate electricity. Holdsworth (1987) estimates that slightly more than 100,000 acre feet per year would have to be pumped from the Sea under present conditions to stabilize both Sea salinity and Sea level, assuming a salinity target of 40,000 ppm. This would be achieved over about 70 years. At a salinity target of 45,000 ppm, stability could be achieved far more quickly, and likely with less pumping. The vertical evaporation process proposed by ORMAT to achieve this option brings the process within marginal land availabilities in the Salton Sea area. Construction costs for the full system would be expected to run in the order of perhaps $6 million for and, $72 million for the evaporation process and $25 million for generation of 25 MWT of solar energy or a total of about $100 million+. Feasibility work is presently being funded by IID, Imperial County and ORMAT ($100,000). A $10-12 million proposal for module testing has been submitted to state government.

2. A Saltwater Impoundment in Salton Sea

A 50 square mile diked impoundment in Salton Sea was the recommended solution of the 1974 Task Force. The dike would be a partially submerged continuous 37-mile long earth "dam" built on the Sea floor, with its shoreward side generally 112 to 1 mile from shore. The impoundment would encompass about 14 percent of the Sea's surface area and would last for about 100 years before it "filled up" with salt. It was estimated to achieve a salinity in the Sea of 35,000 ppm in 12 years. Updating estimated 1974 costs to 1986, this option would cost between $125 million and $155 million, with annual operating costs of about $1 million.

A smaller 40 square mile impoundment was estimated to return Sea salinity to 35,000 ppm within 18 years. It was estimated to cost, at most about $140 million, plus annual operating costs of about $600,000 (in 1986 dollars). These alternatives are still judged technically feasible today. Recent concern has been expressed regarding possible "leakage" from the impoundment into the Sea, and possible vulnerability to earthquake. These issues may -require further consideration.

This alternative has been extensively scoped in earlier technical analysis (see the 1974 Task Force Report). A decision needs to made whether to go forward with this and/or other options in 1990 (see subsequent schedule).

3. Gulf Waterway Option

In 1971, the Aerospace Corporation identified a plan to stabilize Salton Sea salinity and water level via a pumping capability to the Gulf of California. That proposal holds little benefit for Mexico, and is consequently not deemed feasible. A waterway with appropriate locks, to enable pleasure craft to travel back and forth between the Salton Sea and the ocean is, however, being considered as one present option. This solution would enable control of salinity And water level at Salton Sea, and unlike the canal/pipeline proposal would offer major potential infrastructural benefits to Mexico. It would also complement the expanding retirement/recreation complex in eastern Riverside County, and would provide the basis for a broad new tourism initiative based in Imperial County. This option is estimated to involve a construction cost of $250-$250 million. [The second figure should be $350 million - see Table 14  J.Dainer]. If it reaches the feasibility level, formal discussions and an eventual agreement-with Mexico would be required.

  B. Supplementary Options

1. Colorado River Surges

It has been suggested that now that reservoirs on the Colorado River are full, surges of water will be released down the river in wet years, and could be made available to Salton Sea either through existing canals or via an expanded canal system. It will only be appropriate to consider this option after salinity targets are established and after a basic decision regarding the full option response has been reached (post-1990). Prior lowering of the Salton Sea's surface level would seem a prerequisite to avoid flooding. This option would entail periodic fluctuations in water level at Salton Sea, particularly in years when surges were delivered. It would likely require some form of entitlement agreement, either via the Colorado River Board, or in other form. Finally, the record of the past three decades indicates that dilution with Colorado River water cannot, by itself stabilize salinity levels at Salton Sea and keep Sea levels below flood stage. Consequently, any dilution alternative must be combined with enhanced evaporation and/or pumpout.

2. Pump-back of Brine Water to Yuma

If it is considered desirable to operate the evaporation process at a level beyond where the solar plant can utilize all brine produced, it may be necessary to dispose of excess brine. One possibility to do this could be construction of a pipeline back to Yuma and disposal of the brine in a Gulf of California drain established for such purpose as part of the Yuma desalination plant.

  C. Dealing with Pollution at Salton Sea

Potential pollutants at Salton Sea cover a broad range of organic and inorganic agents. As noted, however, recent discussion and analysis has concentrated on cleanup of organic and inorganic pollutants from New River and Alamo River, and effective control of selenium. This provides the focus for our present report.

1. Cleanup of the New River

Cleanup of the New River is complicated by the fact that a significant portion of pollutant loading from the river comes from the Republic of Mexico (see previous). The United States and Mexico signed a 1983 U.S. - Mexico Border Environment Agreement, with EPA as the lead agency on this side of the border. Montgomery Consulting Engineers (1987) identified a number of structural alternatives for pollution abatement on the U.S. side of the border, for the California Regional Water Quality Control Board (RWQCB). The State Water Resource Control Board (SWRCB) is presently seeking funds to design a separating screen for gross solids and trash in the river, as well as to conduct other studies. A $1.2 million joint U.S./Mexico project directed at improved collection of waste in Mexicali has just come on line and this is a significant step toward improving the New River situation . Finally, RWQCB continues to monitor New River pollution, and Mexico is cooperating to enable measurement on their side of the border as well. Past improvement at New River has been slow, requiring collection of basic data and cooperative efforts by two nations. Steady improvement is expected to continue, the pace of that action depending on priorities and fiscal capabilities in both countries. In the United States, action is likely to focus on further monitoring, and on consideration of actual pollution abatement alternatives. These will, in turn, depend on decisions reached by SWRCB and EPA over the next several years.

2. Cleanup of the Alamo River

Pollution in the Alamo River is almost entirely generated in the United States. The RWQCB has commissioned a pesticide residue study for the drainage area and continues to pursue selenium issues (see below). Aside from these actions, there appears to be little momentum at either SWRCB or EPA levels. It would consequently appear that pollution issues in the Alamo River will be primarily addressed within the context of management of agricultural drainage.

3. Management of Selenium at Salton Sea

The RWQCB, in concert with the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) has embarked on a study of selenium sources affecting the Salton Sea area. This study is focusing on tile drainage, soils and Colorado River water. IID is an active cooperator in this analysis.

EPA has recently published Ambient Water Quality Criteria for Selenium (1987) and has requested that the RWQCB incorporate a numerical water quality objective for selenium in its updated Water Quality Control Plan. At present, RWQCB believes that establishing "best practical farm management procedures" with respect to control of selenium will be more effective than a numerical standard. It is anticipated that discussive efforts to resolve this question will continue, with a decision in the first half of 1989. At this point in time, it seems likely that efforts to manage selenium effectively will continue with some sort of combed procedure targeting improved farm practice and eventual standard setting a possible outcome.

8. Programs Affecting Salton Sea

While problems at Salton Sea continue to the present, it is incorrect to conclude that no remedial efforts are underway. In fact, considerable effort is presently ongoing at the Sea. Table 11 summarizes ongoing programs, characterized by type and by agency. Readers should refer to the specific identified agencies for details of the programs identified here. Examinatin of the tdable suggests that to date, progressive efforts at the Sea have focussed on information gathering, with less attention directed to testing and devleopment of actual remedy.

Table 11
Summary of Ongoing Programs at Salton Sea
Type of Program
Program Description
Agency

1.

Sea level monitoring

l a.

Monthly monitoring program

l a.

DWR

2.

Flood control

2 a.

Analysis of remedial flood control measures in the New River and Alamo River drainages

2 a.

Corps.

3.

Pollution information gathering and monitoring

3 a.

Periodic monitoring of Salton Sea, New River and Alamo River water quality

3 a.

DWR
RWQCB

3 b.

Bioaccumulation of selenium in aquatic birds and diving ducks

3 b.

FWS

3 c.

Drainage area pesticide residue study

3c.

RWQCB
USGS

3 d.

Selenium sources study re. Salton Sea

3d.

USGS
RWQCB

4.

Pollution control

4 a.

Structural alternatives for pollution abatement in New River (completed, 1987)

4 a.

RWQCB

4 b.

Improvements to the Mexicali sewage system (just on line)

4 b.

Mexico/US

4 c.

Update of Region 7 Water Quality Control Plan (1989)

RWQCB
EPA

5.

Wildlife studies

5 a.

Wildlife habitat and food studies

5 a.

FWS

6.

Fishery studies

6 a.

Salinity tolerance of Salton Sea Sport Fishes

6 a.

CF&G

6 b.

Economic importance of the Salton Sea Sport Fishery

6 b.

CF&G

7.

Evaporation Ponds

7 a.

Evaporation pond testproposal

7 a.

IID

8.

Pumpout/Evaporation/Solar generator

8 a.

Feasibility analysis

8 a.

IID
Imp. County

 

9. Options for Improvement of the Salton Sea

Analysis to this point allows us to reach to the following conclusions.

- There is near unanimity among interested parties that the major beneficial uses at Salton Sea - namely agricultural, fishing, recreational and residential/retirement should be preserved and/or enhanced;
- Benefits from effective control of salinity, flooding and pollution of the Sea are worth at least hundreds of millions of dollars and appear to justify large scale remedial investment;
- Failure to effectively manage problems at Salton Sea will place severe pressure on those agencies/entities with legal responsibility at the Sea, as subsequent adverse events occur;
- Technical alternatives that would control salinity and flooding at the Sea, are available, and at estimated levels of cost that seem justified by expected benefits.

Despite these agreed interests, available remedial opportunities, increasing financial and legal risks associated with non-remedy and the significant levels of ongoing effort evident from Table 11, it can be fairly stated that no focused program for remedy has yet been developed. Development of such a focused options program will be the target for the balance of this report.

As noted, we conclude that failure to develop a focused options program for remedy at Salton Sea cannot be principally related to disagreement on objections (most parties agree), to the issue of whether potential remedial benefits would exceed costs (they do), or to whether general remedies are technically available (they are). Rather, we believe that lack of satisfactory progress to date has been chiefly related to four causal factors.

- a disparate process that has not always focused participants energy on central objectives and related critical programs;nificant uncertainty with respect to information needed to derive a remedial strategy;
- significant investment requirements to achieve full remedial results, under any of the options posed;
- failure to spend sufficient effort and time in. developing a remedial program that deals effectively with issues of informational uncertainty and the funding process.

The remedial options plan developed here will focus particularly on these issues. Further, in attempting to get a handle on the divergent issues at Salton Sea, it is important to "start somewhere" develop a strategies focus, and then expand to further problems/issues as required. As noted, our starting place is management of salinity and flooding problems. We will then add consideration of pollution- particularly from the New River and from selenium. Our recent discussion with interested parties suggests that these are the principal issues" of present concern. We consequently feel that progress in resolving these issues will set the stage for subsequent analysis of other problems.

  a) Coordination of Remedial Efforts at Salton Sea

Coordination of remedial efforts at Salton Sea had not been well developed through 1986. Interested parties came together from time to time, sometimes expending considerable effort (eg. the 1974 Task Force Report), but then returning to their respective agencies, where other requirements and responsibilities eventually prevailed. Only in 1987 did the Task Force target continuing coordination of remedial effort between interested parties as a priority. This effort has now been ongoing for almost a year. Initial progress was slow, but momentum now seems to be increasing. The Task Force will, itself, be able to judge whether progress is being made, from this draft report, from a subsequent final report, and from ongoing activities associated with our facilitative efforts. They will also be able to Judge whether progress achieved merits further action and expenditure of resources. Should the Task Force conclude that subsequent action is warranted, provision of a continuing facilitative/coordinative capability to active parties will substantially improve prospects for eventual effective remedy of the problems at Salton Sea.

  b) Availability of Knowledge, the Issue of Timing and Salinity

Targets at Salton Sea

An important impediment to remedial action at Salton Sea has involved specification of salinity tolerances for the Sea's sport fishes. Whether sport species can tolerate salinity of 38,000 ppm, 41,000 ppm, or 45,000 ppm, for example, makes major differences in both the nature and scale of remedial action required. The California Department of Fish and Game is presently researching this issue, with results expected in mid-1990. In addition, we commissioned our own biological consultant, Biosystems Analysis, Inc. to review existing data on salinity tolerances, and advise us on relative magnitude of risk. Their full report as provided in Appendix G. As part of their report, Biosystems developed a judgmental range of risk concerning potential effects of salinity on Salton Sea biota. This range of risk analysis is presented in Table 12.

Table 12
Hypothetical Effects of Salinity on Salton Sea Biota
Salinity
--ppm---

Event
Probability
of Occurrence
40

Increased importance of environmental stress on all fish.

high

Reproductive failure of Bairdiella, sargo, and tilapia due to excessive salinity.

moderate

Declining abundance of primary forage for corvina due to above with resulting lower growth rates, decreased reproduction and higher mortality.

moderate

Declining productivity (standing crop) of Nereis reduces food for Bairdiella, young corvina.

moderate

Changes in lower trophic levels effecting recruitment success of corvina and other fish.

low

45

Reproductive failure of Bairdiella, sargo, and tilapia due to excessive salinity.

high

Loss of reproduction of tilapia due to excessive salinity

moderate

Reproduction of pileworm threatened

moderate

Declining productivity (standing crop) of Nereis reduces food for Bairdiella, young corvina.

moderate

Direct mortality to young and/or adult Bairdiella and sargo due to excessive salinity.

moderate

Declining abundance of primary forage for corvina due to above with resulting lower growth rates, decreased reproduction and higher mortality.

moderate

Loss of recruitment of corvina due to moderate reproductive failure at upper salinity tolerance.

moderate

Changes in lower trophic levels effecting recruitment success of corvina.

low-moderate

50

Reproduction of Bairdiella and sargo no longer possible.

high

Loss of reproduction of pileworm.

high

Declining productivity (standing crop) of Nereis reduces food for Bairdiella, young corvina.

high

Exceedence of upper salinity tolerance for adult sargo.

high

Total loss of sargo.

high

Total loss of Bairdiella.

high

Loss of recruitment of corvina due to reproductive failure at upper salinity tolerance.

high

Loss of forage for corvina, corvina fall to low numbers.

high

Loss of corvina sport fishery.

high

Reproductive failure for Tilapia.

moderate-high

Total loss of food source for Bairdiella.

moderate

Exceedance of upper salinity tolerance for adult Bairdiella.

moderate

55

Conditions intolerable for adult corvina due to lack of forage, corvina at very low numbers.

extreme

Reproductive failure of Tilapia.

high

Total loss of corvina.

moderate

Conditions intolerable for adult corvina due to high salinity for adults.

low-moderate

Biosystems also recommended a monitoring program focusing on both target species and other important trophic elements and identified artificial propagation as a potential risk aversion strategy. All their conclusions were qualified due to a limited empirical data.

In sum, on the basis of presently available data, we conclude that continued increases in salinity at Salton Sea will eventually kill all fish life. On the basis of the Biosystems analysis, we conclude that fishery resources are at risk, given present salinity concentrations, but we cannot evaluate degree of risk or specify acceptable salinity tolerances at the Sea. It is expected that it will be possible to estimate such tolerances after completion of CF&G's ongoing work, in mid-1990.

These conclusions are important in developing remedial options at the Sea. They suggest that action can usefully be taken now (due to the presence of risk), but that such action should be incremental in nature, and not be of a scale that would over-run CF&G's expected mid-1990 results. Thus the program options developed here will concentrate first on useful interim actions, to be considered for the two year period until mid-1990, and then discuss options to achieve fuller solutions beyond that point in time. In fact, given the specific requirements f or establishing financial support for these undertakings, such an incremental strategy appears optimal o n financial grounds as well.

  c) Present Status and Future Requirements for Remedial Options at Salton Sea

Following preceding discussion, explicit -consideration of remedial options at Salton Sea must be based on an evaluation of present status, of required action in the next two years, and of required action beyond that time. This status evaluation is provided, for each of the three major options considered in Table 13. Incorporated into the Table is a strategy of not making full remedial commitments until completion of CF&G1s ongoing salinity studies but using the intervening time period to do important incremental work to ready each potential option should it be chosen. This time will be critical if the feasibility of each option is to be carefully considered, and requisite funding entered into agency budget cycles, obtained from general issue of debentures, or secured by other means. Estimated funding that may be required, in monies or in "in-kind" services are presented, by period, in Table 14.

Table 13
Present Status and Required Actions -- Remedial Options at Salton Sea

Option

Present Status

Required Action
thru Mid-1990

Required Action
1991-92

Action From
1993 Forward

In-Sea
impoundment.

-Option generally identified. May need to consider seismic risk.

-Update cost.
-Wait for salinity targets.
-Consider seismic risk.

-Implement if selected.

-Operate.

Pumpout/ Evaporation/
Solar

-Technology generally proved. Needs modular testing.

-Test a module at the Sea.

-Increase pumping and add modules if selected.

-Operate.

Gulf Waterway

-Option identified conceptually.

-Conduct reconnaissance analysis.

-Conduct feasibility analysis.
-Discuss with Mexico.

-Construct if selected
-Operate.

Table 14
Estimated Fiscal Dollar or In-Kind Resource Requirements-
-Remedial Options at Salton Sea

Option

1988-1990

1991-1992

1993 +

---------------- $ 'millions ----------------------

In-Sea impoundment

.05

--125 to 140 --

Pumpout/Evaporation/ Solar

8 to 12.5

--100 to 140 --

Gulf Waterway

.1
.25

250 to 350

  d) A General Strategy for-Remedial Action at Salton Sea

Incorporating previous discussion, it is possible to develop a general schematic framework for remedial decision-making at Salton Sea. Figure 1 identifies each remedial action, steps it through its required phases and times it to coincide with availability of salinity target information. It suggests a strategy for interim development of remedial options, to enable Sharper focusing and a broader decisional commitment as early as 1991, and no later than 1994. Work to address pollution issues is expected to proceed in parallel through this period.

  e) Contributors to Remedial Action at Salton Sea

Past remedial dialogue at Salton Sea has featured almost universal good intent, but less in the way of commitment of actual manpower or monies. An important contractor task has been to identify which entities, if any, were prepared to actually participate in one or more of the remedial actions identified here. Using the incremental format identified in Figure 1, we have pursued this question with particular agencies. These discussions are still ongoing. On the basis of present discussions, we have identified the following entities that have indicated firm interest in contributing money and/or in kind assistance to "action teams" for particular remedial work (Table 15). 

 

Figure 1 Action Outline for the Salton Sea Program

 

Table 15
Potential Participants--Remedial Action
Over the 1988-1990 Period

Action Team

Task(s)

Potential Participants

1.

Salinity Standards & Water Quality

l a.

Complete salinity studies for sport fish.

CF&G
SWRCB
RWQCB
EPA
FWS

2.

In-Sea Impoundment

2 a.

Update cost analysis.

CVWD

2 b.

Consider seismic risk issue.

3.

Pumpout/Evaporation/ Solar

3 a.

Test module.

IID
Imp. County
ORMAT
CA Energy Comm.
USBR
CF&G
FDWR(?)WS

4.

Gulf Waterway

4 a.

Conduct reconnaissance analysis.

Corps
USBR
CF&G
FWS
CA. Boating &Waterway

* Preliminary, subject to revision.

The capability of each of these parties varies. Some may be in a position to directly contribute money. Others may be able to redirect ongoing progress or budgets. Still others will need to seek additional appropriations through their budget cycling process. Finally, full remedial financing may require legislative appropriation and/or debenture funding. In this sense, each Action Team, working with the coordinator, will initially need to define tasks to be undertaken over the 1988-90 period, identify the role of each contributing member with respect to those tasks and then develop an action schedule for implementation. Initial meetings for potential participants in the Solar Action Team and the Gulf Waterway Action Team are presently being arranged, and first results should be available to the Task Force by the end of August. Our present impression of the status for each of these teams is summarized in Table 16.

Table 16
Present Status of Action Teams -- Remedial Action at Salton Sea

Action Team

Agency

Status of 1988-90 Tasks

1.

Salinity Standards

l a.

CF&G

l a.

Has resources to & Water Quality complete by mid-1990.

1b.

RWQCB
SWRCB
EPA
FWS

l b.

Continued monitoring, testing & development of water quality standards.

lc.

Interface with action teams re. requirements & funding of alternatives.

2.

In-Sea Impoundment

2.

CVWD

2.

Will complete by mid-1990.

3 a.

IID
Imp. County
ORMAT

3 a.

Have committed $100,000.

3.

Pumpout/Evaporation/ Solar

3 b.

USBR

3 b.

Has committed to conduct feasibility analysis of Yuma saline return line.

3 c.

CF&G
FWS

3 c.

Have committed to "in-kind" participation in module design & testing .

3 d.

All team entities (see Table 15)

3 d

Have agreed to explore avenues for funding support.

3 e.

All team entities

3 e.

Have agreed to scope module project & assign sub-tasks .

4.

Gulf Waterway

4 a.

Corps

Will likely agree to conduct physical structure reconnaissance study.

4 b.

USBR

4 b.

Has agreed to conduct reconnaissance evaluation of potential environmental impacts.

4 c.

CF&G

4 c.

Have agreed to FWS participate CA. Boating in above & Waterways reconnaissance analysis.

 

On the basis of current action by interested participants, we conclude that Action Tasks (1), (2) and (4) for the 1988-90 period are both feasible, and within the committed capabilities of Action Team members. The 1988-90 module task of the Pumpout/Evaporation/Solar Team is more ambitious, and will require additional work by Team members before its completion can be fully assured. Team members have expressed a desire to proceed with that work and it is ongoing at the time of this report.

  f) Feasibility of Action Beyond 1991-94

Under the interim plan developed here, relatively small financial commitments are required in early remedial stages. As salinity targets are established, and remedial options are better understood, higher levels of financial resources will be needed. In fact the Pumpout/Evaporation/Solar Team is struggling with this problem to some degree at present. It is consequently critical that active participants not only use the 1988-90 period to complete interim tasks, but also to develop an understanding of. and strategic approach to, obtaining necessary funding for option selections that are made.

Our present report provides a framework for the development of such a funding strategy and focuses on three critical issues that we believe a successful funding strategy must address.

- the strategy must be considered to be equitable;

- the strategy must target a mix of potentially available financial resources;

- the strategy must be responsible to the requirements and timing of each potential financial source.

Each of these issues is discussed below. We consider this as "opening dialogue". The Action Teams will undoubtedly wish to develop final strategies in terms of their particular needs and identified opportunities. Obtaining required funding is far more complex than "just asking for it", however and Action Teams and the Coordinator will need to work as hard in this area as in implementing their actual technical programs.

i) Equity in Supporting Remedial Action at Salton Sea

The in-Sea impoundment option is directed solely at correcting adverse salinity trends at the Sea. Both the Pumpout/Evaporation/Solar option and the Gulf Waterway option address adverse events at t h e Sea and potential benefits associated with energy and recreation/resident development, respectively. Funding responsibility for these latter two options will consequently need to be allocated between beneficial project outcomes. Further, some project beneficiary groups may have repayment capability, while others may not have. This will affect the type of funding that can be utilized. Allocation of project benefits and funding responsibilities between different project purposes is a standard government procedure. Such allocation will be a necessary part of the funding process developed by each Action Team. Preliminary calculations for the Pumpout/ Evaporation/Solar option suggest an al location of about 75% of total project cost to salinity control, 25% to energy production. These figures will need to be further considered. No similar calculation has yet been made for the Gulf Waterway option.

A second equity issue deals with the relative funding burden that might be borne by taxpayer s/residents of the general Salton Sea area, of the State of California and of the United States. Benefits to all three groups are clearly associated with alternatives posed. Impacts on economic revenue, land values, construction and employment in the Salton Sea area have been discussed in earlier sections. Significant recreation and retirement based benefits will also accrue to south coastal California and to the state as a whole. National benefits are associated with the Salton Sea National Wildlife Refuge, with the Torres Martinez Indian Reservation and with a broad spectrum of BLM land-based-responsibilities in the area. The importance of agriculture for the local area, the state and the nation has also been earlier discussed. Finally, the pumpout/evaporation/solar option offers significant energy opportunity to California and the southwestern U.S., while an international waterway to the Gulf of California would generate major state, national and international economic and recreational opportunity.

The exact sharing of funding responsibility between local, state and federal levels will need to be worked out as. options are further developed by the Action Teams and will undoubtedly involve close legislative consultation at both federal and state levels. To establish a starting point for this dialogue, we provide the following hypothetical funding frame (Table 17).

 

Table 17
Hypothetical Funding Framework and Requirements for
Remedial Alternatives at Salton Sea

A. A HYPOTHETICAL REVENUE FRAMEWORK

Beneficiary
Group

Approximate
Population
'000

Annual Per
Capita Charge2
      
$

Annual
Revenue
$'millions
Cumulative
Charge Per
Resident3

1.

Imp. Cnty, Plus River- side Cnty. residents adjacent to Salton Sea.

128

1.00

0.1

1.50

2.

California residents

26,981

.35

9.4

.50

3.

United States residents

241,078

.15

36.1

.15

-----------

4.

All groups

45.6

B. AN ESTIMATE OF ANNUAL REMEDIAL REVENUE REQUIREMENTS 4

_____________Magnitude of Remedial Capital Cost____________

Interest
Rate 5

$ 100 million
$200 million
$300 million
$350 million

   %

-------- annual amortized payment in-$-millions -------

 5

7.1

14.2

21.3

24.8

 7

8.6

17.2

25.1

30.0

10

11.0

22.0

33.1

38.6

12

12.7

25.5

38.2

44.6

1 Population estimate for Riverside County includes Coachel la, but not Indio.
2 These charges are selected arbitrarily, to provide a basis for discussion by the Action teams.
3 Based on the assumption that the local resident will also pay at the state and federal level; and that the state resident will also pay at the federal level.
4 Based on a 25 year payback period.
5 The lower 5 percent range of interest is presented to reflect special "low interest" loans programs.

Not all these revenues would necessarily come from government sources. User fees and land assessment based levies provide two examples of alternative methods for revenue generation that may be tied to remedial efforts at Salton Sea. What Table 17 indicates is that, overall, the magnitude of revenues that may be required for full remedy at Salton Sea can likely be achieved at nominal overall per capital cost. As noted earlier, the exact magnitude of costs, and cost sharing formulas between local, state and federal entities and between users, environmental protection and non-users will need to be further clarified as Action Team efforts continue.

ii) Potential Fiscal Resources Available to Remedial Work at Salton Sea

A broad range of resources are potentially available to support remedial work at Salton Sea. During the interim 1988-90 period, where requirements are relatively modest, a significant component of required resources may be provided "in-kind either by reprioritizing effort or by focusing ongoing programs within interested agencies. The reconnaissance analysis of the Gulf Waterway option is an example of such a commitment. As remedial options develop, are related to salinity targets, require testing, and if selected, are developed, need for direct funding will accelerate.

Large amounts of money are generally not available from government sources "for the asking". Certainly, some authorized and not yet encumbered monies are available, and these will need to be targeted in the remedial process. Increasingly, in times of fiscal constraint, it will be necessary to adopt a mixed funding strategy, that targets a broad range of revenue sources to enable required remedial action. The required process is generally described in Figure 2.

Figure 2 Development of Salton Se Project Funding

It can by observed from Figure 2 that development of funding capability is a task of equivalent importance to identification of required remedial need at Salton Sea. Moreover, it will be closely tied to the scale and timing of technical response; and to allocation of funding responsibility between geographic constituencies, and between users and the general public. Some funds are available, and these can be applied for. It is even possible that funding may eventually come from a single source. It is more likely, however, that a mixed funding strategy will succeed: targeting existing funds where available; entering future-year budget cycles of interested agencies; seeking legislative appropriations were appropriate; specifying fee structures for project revenue generation, and tying expected revenue to low interest loan applications; considering debenture options, both to meet general environmental obligations and to enable recoverable user benefits.

Formulation of the ACTION TEAMS for each alternative provides the necessary first stop for development of a funding strategy. As remedial options are firmed, the following steps of allocating costs to beneficiary groups, of identifying and developing funding sources and of integrating these approaches to obtain the full measure of funding required can proceed. It is our view that continued coordinated effort along these lines will result in substantial progress through the 1988-90 interim period so that at the next recommended major decision point (see Figure 1), the Task Force will have a very firm picture of potential funding that may be associated with each considered option, and of the means and probability of obtaining it. Hence, we recommend that timing associated with development of revenue sources be tied to overall timing with respect to remedial project development at the Sea. The present status, scheduling and immediate funding needs for each identified remedial option are generally linked to potential funding sources, as we have been able to identify them, in Table 18.

Table 18
Funding Potentials Associated with Remedial Options at Salton Sea

Remedial Options

Present Funding Status

Required FundingAction

1.

Water Quality/
Salinity targeting

l a.

Salinity funding committed by CF&G.

l a.

Generally OK for salinity targeting.

l b.

Selenium sources study funded by RWQCB.

l b.

?

1 c.

Pollution project options at New River under consideration by SWRCB.

l c.

Need funding from SWRCB. Consider possible Clean Water Act planning support (205J-2; 205J-5).

2.

In-Sea Impoundment

2 a.

Cost update to 1990 covered by CVWD. CWA 205J-2 and 205J-5 planning monies might assist in 1990.

2 a.

Develop potential funding sources post-1990. Consider budget cycles re. EPA, USBR, and State levels.

3.

Pumpout/Evaporation/ Solar

3 a.

Imperial County/ IID/ ORMAT have committed $100,000.

3 a.

Need $8-12 million for modular testing.

3 b.

USBR has committed feasibility analysis on a Yuma high-salinity return line.

3 b.

Apply directly to SWCB for Title 2 grant monies under Clean Water Act (requires SWRCB action)

3 c.

CF&G, FWS, USBR, EC have committed technical assistance.

3 c.

Target CA. Energy Comm. Energy Partnership Program. (Application process is ongoing).

4.

Gulf Waterway

4 a.

U.S. Army Corps is negotiating to do construction reconnaissance analysis.

4 a.

Appears OK through 1990.

4 b.

USBR will do impact reconnaissanceanalysis.

4 b.

Discuss contribution options with Action Team members, and initiate action in their budget cycle processes.

4 c.

CF&G, FWS and CA. Boating & Waterways will participate technically in 4a & 4b.

4 c.

Consider future legislative appropriation needs.

Integration of Figure 2 and Table 18 provides a focus for development of requisite remedial funding. As noted, an effective funding strategy must be tied to requirements of the remedial alternatives as they progress. At present, it appears that financial resources required by the Water Quality Team (for salinity work), the In-Sea Impoundment Team and the Gulf Waterway Team will be available to proceed with required work through 1990. The Pumpout/Evaporation/ Solar Team is now ready for modular testing and development. Their financial needs are consequently larger and will require intensive effort targeting funding sources and actions from Table 18. This effort will need to be a major focus of Team activity over the balance of 1988.

Finally, a number of low interest loans and debenture programs are available from federal and state sources. These must necessarily be tied to revenue recovery, however. Revenue may be recovered through fees, local assessments on land and improvements (subject to limits imposed by Proposition 13) and via related procedures. Action Team resolution of the issues identified in Figure 2 is a necessary prerequisite to effective incorporation of revenue generation and the use of loans/debentures for remedial funding.

2. Options for Improvement at Salton Sea--A Conclusion

The clients who retained us to facilitate remedy at Salton Sea asked us a series of principal questions.

i ) Was there any consensus among interested parties as to what purposes the Sea should serve? 

ii) Were there any technically feasible solutions to remedy major problems at the Sea particularly those associated with increasing salinity and with flooding? iii) Were these solutions affordable, in the general sense that benefits could be seen to outweigh costs? 

iv) What interested parties, if any, were prepared to go beyond expressions of support to contribute actual monies and/or loin kind" support to achieve one or more of the remedies identified? 

v) Could a feasible organizational plan be developed to pursue any practical remedial opportunities that were identified?

Consideration of the information provided in t his report suggests that the answer to each of the first four questions posed is "yes". Discussion with parties to the Salton Sea Task Force identified a near unanimous consensus with respect to objectives at Salton Sea. We have been able to identify three technical alternatives that, taken separately or in combination, appear capable of controlling salinity and flooding problems at the Sea. Further, based on available information, the anticipated benefits from such remedy would greatly outweigh anticipated costs.

At the time of writing thirteen (13) federal, state and local agencies/interests have made specific commitments to assist in Action Team development of remedial alternatives and associated required funding. As a result, successful completion of the 1988-90 interim tasks identified in Figure 1 seems assured for the Salinity Targets, In-Sea Impoundment and Gulf Waterway Tasks and three entities have already dedi cated initial monies toward development of the Pumpout/ Evaporation/ Solar option. Several other agencies/interests are presently considering entry to one or more of the Action Teams. Should the Task Force wish to proceed, formation of these Action Teams provides the obvious key, both to further development of project remedy and associated sources of funding over the 1988-90 period.

Adoption of an incremental strategy of doing needed work in the 1988-90 period and then subsequently selecting and developing fuller remedial response, aligns three important time requirements for effective remedy at Salton Sea.

- it provides time to understand and recommend target salinity requirements;

- it provides time to do necessary reconnaissance/feasibility work for some of the options identified, and to sensitize them to salinity targets when they become available;

- it provides time to develop the kind of sophisticated, project specific, funding approach that is required for undertakings of this potential magnitude.

Finally, we were asked to identify potential organizational options to be associated with remedy at Salton Sea. That issue is discussed in our final following section.

10. Organizational Options Associated with Remedy at Salton Sea

  a. Timing for Resolution of Organizational Issues -

Our report has recommended conduct of interim activity through 1990, when salinity targets can be established, subsequent scoping of a final remedial strategy and then development of a full remedial response. In the context of this logical sequencing, we believe it premature to consider establishment of a permanent new organization for remedy and resource management at Salton Sea at this time. Until the shape of a full remedial strategy has been specified, it is impossible to properly identify all principal players and/or revenue providers. These will be important issues affecting organizational structure. It is our consequent recommendation that consideration of permanent organizational structure be deferred until 1991. Several options are available in the interim 1988-90 period, however, and they will be identified here.

  b) Focus of Organization Discussion

Readers will have noted that we are generally optimistic that a satisfactory remedy can progressively be achieved at Salton Sea. With that in mind, we must be aware of the old organizational adage, "if it works don't fix it". Our discussion here consequently starts from the basis of the present Task Force/Working Group/Facilitator arrangement, and considers potential amendments to that organization frame. In general, our discussion will address four central issues: overall leadership of remedial efforts at Salton Sea over the 1988-90 period; efficiency needs in maintaining momentum for a solution at Salton Sea; the need to develop a coordinated funding plan concurrently with technical options to remedy Sea problems; and the need to provide continuing information and input opportunity for generally interested parties and the public at large.

i) Organizational Leadership in the Interim 1988-90 Period

At present, remedial efforts at Salton Sea have been overviewed by The Resources Agency. Situated midway between local and federal interest, and encompassing both economic and ecological concern, we consider this agency well suited for such a role. Once remedies have been developed, there may be strong arguments for moving leadership closer to operational locations. As noted, however, we are not there yet, and we believe The Resources Agency can continue to provide an important balancing role, particularly with respect to some of the issues identified in Figure 2. If a change is desired, we view the State Water Resources Control Board as the most attractive alternative agency to play an integrating role. The Board is similarly Positioned to The Resources Agency, and review it as a next best choice for overview responsibility, should a change be required for the 1988-90 period.

ii) Efficiency in Maintaining Remedial Momentum at Salton Sea

Formation of Action Teams focusing on each interim task provides a logical next step in hands-on development of remedial options. Each team would consist only of these interests who committed funding and/or technical assistance to development of the particular targeted option. In this sense, each Action Team would be smaller and more focused than the present full Task Force Working Group, and would provide technical and management capability to proceed expeditiously with remedial development.

We recommend that each Action Team continue to be serviced by a coordinator/facilitator, who would serve as secretary to the group, provide substantive assistance in development of an overall funding strategy, and liaise between groups and with Task Force leadership. We recommend that the facilitator also prepare a progress report for each working group every 4 months, to be submitted and discussed at a meeting of the full Task Force. We propose that the Task Force be composed of the members of the four Action Teams.

iii) Need for a Coordinated Funding Plan

As noted earlier, while some agency personnel possess considerable knowledge respecting funding opportunities and processes within their particular jurisdiction, development of a workable funding strategy has lagged behind problem identification and technical analysis of options in work to date at Salton Sea. This was perhaps appropriate in earlier years. It is clear, however, that this deficiency must be remedied if identified remedial opportunities are to be realized. We have presented a framework for such remedy in Figure 2. We believe it unlikely that an integrated funding 'Plan will result automatically from deliberations of each Action Team. We consequently recommend that development of a strategic plan for acquisition of requisite funds be designated as an explicit responsibility of the coordinator/facilitator.

vi) Information/Access for Other Interested Parties

The Salton Sea is a public resource. Resolution of problems at the Sea will entail significant public costs and will generate ever greater public benefits. It is consequently important to maintain communication with these entities/individuals who are not in a position to contribute substantially to any of the action identified, but wish to be kept informed of remedial progress. To this end, we recommend retention of the broad based listing of interested entities and individuals both for circulation of written progress information, and to attend general informational meetings at the call of the Task Force Chair.

v) A Summary of Organization options - for the 1988-90 Period

Foregoing discussion enables development of three organizational options for the 1988-90 period. The present organizational arrangement is outlined in Figure 3. Our recommended options incorporating Action Teams, a streamlining of the actual Task Force, and creation of a broader Task Force Advisory Group is presented in Figure 4.

Finally, coordinative support is removed in Figure 5. This is essentially the situation when the Task Force is inactive and is not recommended.

Figure 3 Present Organization -- Salton Sea Task Force

Figure 4 Recommended Organization -- 1988-90, Salton Sea Task Force

 

Figure 5 Uncoordinated Alternative-Salton Sea remedial Work

Appendix A  
Historic Salton Sea Water Budget  

___Water Balance (1,000 AF)___

Yeara

Elevation Below
Sea Level (ft)
b
Surface Area
(1,000 acres)
c
Inflowd
Directe
Rain
Evaporationf
Change in
Storage
g

1949
1950

1951
1952
1953
1954
1955
1956
1957
1958
1959
1960
1961
1962
1963
1964
1965
1966
1967
1968
1969
1970
1971
1972
1973
1974
1975
1976
1977
1978
1979
1980
1981
1982
1983
1984

240.2
239.6

238.3
236.6
235.8
234.8
234.4
234.5
234.5
234.6
234.3
233.8
233.4
232.7
231.2
231.9
232.0
232.0
231.8
231.8
232.0
231.9
231.7
231.3
231.2
230.7
230.1
228.6
228.3
228.2
227.8
227.3
227.4
165.6
226.6
226.7

---
198

204
211
216
221
223
222
222
222
223
224
225
227
231
230
229
229
230
230
230
230
231
232
233
234
236
239
240
240
242
243
242
242
244
244

---
1,203

1,358
1,411
1,456
1,365
1,371
1,310
1,193
1,187
1,300
1,387
1,413
1,469
1,644
1,212
1,164
1,312
1,321
1,399
1,392
1,270
1,309
1,317
1,354
1,446
1,475
1,490
1,466
1,507
1,593
1,475
1,292
1,194
1,485
1,392

---
4

30
45
1
24
18
2
33
40
33
36
34
23
57
10
49
19
59
31
22
21
23
25
18
56
14
144
67
125
74
89
49
63
165
55

---
1,090

1,160
1,140
1,260
1,170
1,290
1,330
1,210
1,230
1,280
1,310
1,360
1,330
1,380
1,357
1,259
1,308
1,335
1,430
1,414
1,291
1,263
1,264
1,310
1,388
1,337
1,329
1,461
1,629
1,563
1,448
1,385
1,300
1,407
1,408


+ 117

+228
+316
+197
+219
+ 99
- 18
+ 16
- 3
+ 53
+113
+ 87
+162
+321
-135
- 46
+ 23
+ 45
0
0
0
+ 69
+ 78
+ 62
+114
+152
+305
+ 72
+ 3
+104
+116
- 44
- 43
+243
- 24

a Calendar year.
b IID record of station Near Fig Tree John Spring.
c Salton Sea area in thousands of acres.
d Computed inflow to balance hydrologic equation. Inflow equals change i storage plus evaporation, less direct rainfall.
e Direct rain is computed as area time average rainfall as measured at f three stations near the sea.
f Evaporation is pan evaporation (average of three stations) times pan 9 coefficient of 0.69 times surface area.
g Determined from chanqe in elevations and area-capacitv relationship.

Appendix B
Components of Inflow to Salton Sea (1,000 AF)

Yeara

IID/Coachellab
Mexicoc
Otherd
Totale

1950
1951
1952
1953
1954
1955
1956
1957
1958
1959
1960
1961
1962
1963
1964
1965
1966
1967
1968
1969
1970
1971
1972
1973
1974
1975
1976
1977
1978
1979
1980
1981
1982
1983
1984

1,158
1,265
1,335
1,397
1,333
1,143
1,151
1,052
1,018
1,066
1,118
1,123
1,190
1,275
1,014
1,008
1,124
1,145
1,125
1,093
1,139
1,219
1,200
1,216
1,268
1,290
1,248
1,166
1,128
1,196
1,175
1,108
1,029
1,006
1,124

45
44
44
39
38
56
85
80
113
131
130
124
141
148
113
120
112
105
114
112
108
116
120
126
120
108
111
116
107
153
165
165
166
252
277

0
49
32
30
-6
172
74
61
56
103
139
166
138
221
85
36
76
71
160
187
23
-26
-3
12
58
77
31
184
272
244
135
19
-1
227
28

1,203
1,358
1,411
1,456
1,365
1,371
1,310
1,193
1,187
1,300
1,387
1,413
1,469
1,644
1,212
1,164
1,312
1,321
1,399
1,392
1,270
1,309
1,317
1,354
1,446
1,475
1,490
1,466
1,507
1,593
1,475
1,292
1,194
1,485
1,329

a Calendar year
b IID amount includes measured inflow in New and Alamo Rivers, less surface and subsurface inflow from Mexico at the International Boundary, plus estimated inflow from drains that empty directly to the sea. Coachella inflow was that reported by the USGS (1950-1972). c From 1973 through 1984, amounts are from the CVWD.
c Inflow in New and Alamo Rivers measured at International Boundary, plus subsurface inflow.
d Amount to balance table and includes storm inflow and subsurface inflow.
e Total inflow computed from water balance of Salton Sea. Source: Parsons, 1985.

 

Appendix C
Historical Change to Salton Sea Salinity and Elevation (B-E, 1985)

 

 

Sea Salinity = 35 ppt

Notes (Original Figure)

1. End of year elevations near fig tree John Spring. (I.I.D. Data)

2. Average of samples at four or five stations taken in May and November by I.I.D.

Source: Parsons (1985)

Appendix D
Comments on Salton Sea
by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

Enclosure 1 - Future Uses of the Salton Sea and Adjacent Shoreline

1. Receive Agricultural Drainwater

EPA recognizes that the majority of flows into the Salton Sea are from agricultural drainwater and that the poor quality of this water is impacting the existing instream uses. However, the question of whether or not the Salton Sea should receive agricultural drainwater is basically a water rights issue and beyond the jurisdictional authority of the Federal Clean Water Act (CWA).

EPA's direct involvement is through the approval of State adopted water quality standards (WQS) for the Salton Sea (Section 303(c) of the CWA). Water quality standards are provisions of the State or Federal law which consist of a designated use or uses for the waters of the United States and water quality criteria to protect the uses . The State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) has adopted 21 standard beneficial uses that cover the uses identified in Section 303(c)(2)(A) of the CWA. Beneficial use designations for Habitat (WILD), Water Contact Recreation (REC-1), and Non-Contact Water Recreation (REC-2). The use of the Salton Sea as a depository for agricultural drainwater cannot be considered a "designated Use" for purposes of implementing the CWA (40 CFR 131.10).

EPA approval of State-adopted WQS submittals is based in part on a determination that the WQS reflect the uses presently being attained and include water quality criteria sufficient to protect the designated uses. Federal requirements for establishing WQS are described in 40 CFR 131.

In summary, EPA is primarily concerned with the quality of the agricultural drainwater rather than the transport of such water to the Salton Sea.

2. Shoreline Residential Area

EPA does not have an Agency position on this use.

3. Boating and Swimming and Associated Businesses

Boating and swimming are included under REC-1 a designated use of the Salton Sea. As mentioned above, EPA approval of WOS submittals includes a determination that the water quality ' criteria are sufficient to protect the designated uses. Federal antidegradation policy requires that existing uses be protected and maintained (40 CFR 131.12). EPA does not have an agency position in regards to businesses associated with swimming and boating activities.

4. Fishing and Associated Businesses

In the Colorado River Basin Region fishing is listed under REC-2 which has no use-specific water quality criteria to protect public health. The Regional Board is currently conducting a triennial review of WQS for the Colorado River Basin in accordance with Section 303(c)(1) of the CWA. EPA review and approval of the triennial review will include an evaluation of whether the existing or proposed water quality objectives are sufficient to protect the REC-2 use in the Salton Sea and other water bodies in the region. EPA does not have an agency position in regards to businesses associated with fishing.

5. Parks and Wildlife Areas

Parks and wildlife areas along the Salton Sea provide water related recreational opportunities and provide habitat for and enhance protection for aquatic life and other wildlife species, all of which are designated uses of the water body. These land uses are compatible with goal of the CWA to attain water quality which provides for the protection and propagation of fish, shellfish, and wildlife and provides for recreation in and on the water (Section 101(a)(20).

6. Depository for Treated and Untreated Waste

EPA regulatory authority to control discharges of treated and untreated waste in the Salton Sea depends on whether the discharge is from a point source or a nonpoint source. The CWA defines the term "point source" as any discernible, confined and discrete conveyance from which pollutants are or may be discharged. The discharge for any pollutant from a point source to navigable waters is regulated under a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit (Section 402 of the CWA).

NPDES permits cover the discharge of treated as well as untreated waste materials. Effluent limitations established in the permit must meet the applicable WQS. In California, EPA has oversight authority for the approval of NPDES permits issued by the State. Agricultural return flows are specifically exempted from this permit requirement (Section 402(l)(1) of the CWA) and are considered a nonpoint source (NPS) of pollution under the CWA.

The Salton Sea is designated a water quality limited segment (WQLS) indicating that is known that the water quality does not meet applicable WQS. As a result, the State is required to conduct a total maximum daily load (TMDL) or the Salton Sea which allocates pollutant loadings from point and non-point sources at levels necessary to attain and maintain the applicable narrative and numerical WQS (40 CFR 130.7). EPA has oversight authority for the approval of TMDLs submitted by the State. Implementation of this Federal requirement would affect future discharges of pollutants into the Salton Sea.

7. EPA does not have an agency position in regards to the four remaining uses listed in Table 1. However, if any of these activities involve discharge of pollutants including dredged or fill materials into navigable waters, Federal permits under Section 402 and/or Section 404 of the CWA would be required. EPA has oversight authority for the issuance of these permits.

Enclosure 2 - Future Actions at Salton Sea

1. Control Sea Salinity to Preserve Fish Life

Increasing salinity levels in the Salton Sea will, at some point, impact the aquatic life, including the sportfish species. During the triennial review of WQS for the Colorado River Basin, EPA has recommended that the California Regional Water Quality Board (CRWQCB) adopt a water quality objective for salinity that reflects the salinity tolerances of Salton Sea sportfish.

WQS submittals must comply with the Federal antidegradation policy which requires at a minimum the full protection of existing uses, including WARM (40 CFR 131.6). As mentioned earl ier, EPA has oversight authority for the review and approval of WQS revisions.

2. Turn Sea Into a Waste Depository

Refer to comments numbers 1 and 6 of Enclosure 1.

3. Treat New River Pollution from Mexico

Source control of pollutant loadings to the New River in Mexicali, Mexico, is needed to significantly improve the water quality of this water body. In August 1983, Presidents Reagan and de la Madrid signed the U.S.-Mexico Border Environment Agreement. The Agreement committed both governments to cooperate fully in the protection and improvement of the environment within 100 kilometers on either side of the border. It designated EPA in the U.S. and the Secretariat for Urban Development and Ecology (SEDUE) in Mexico as the two coordinating agencies.

EPA strategy to date has been to continue encouraging Mexico to proceed with their program of eliminating industrial, agricultural, and other nonpoint source discharges to the New River, and improving their municipal treatment works.

4. Develop Effective Techniques for Control of Selenium

The 1987 amendments to the CWA require the CRWQCB to adopt numerical criteria for selenium to protect aquatic life and public health (Section 303(c) (2) (8)). EPA has oversight authority for the approval of such a WQS revision.

Loadings of selenium into the Salton Sea originate from nonpoint sources. Measures for controlling levels of selenium in the Salton Sea, as well as other affected water bodies in the Colorado River Basin, need to be identified in the State NPS Management Program which will be submitted to EPA for approval (Section 319(b) of the CWA). 

Appendix E - References

The Aerospace Corporation, 1971. Salinity Control Standing -Salton Sea Project. Report No. ATR-71 (S-9990)-5, San BernarYino.

California Energy Commission, 1981. A Study on the Feasibility of a Sol ar Salt Pond Generating Facility in the State of California, U.S.A. Prepared for the Southern California Edison Company, by ORMAT Turbines, Yavne, Israel.

CIC Research, 1988. Study of the Economic Importance of the Salton Sea Seort Fishery. Drif-t quarterly report to the Calitornia Department of Fish andGame, May.

County of Imperial, 1987. Overall Economic Development Program. Division of Community Economic Development, El Centro.

Department of Finance, 1987. Population Estimates of California Cities and Counties, January 1, 1986 to January 1, 1987. Sacramento.

Department of Water Resources, 1981. Use of Water by Imperial Irrigation District. An Investigation under California Water Code Section 275. The Resources Agency.

Development Research Associates. Economic Benefits Derived from the Waters of and Lands Surrounding the Salton Sea. 1969. A report to the State Water Resources Control Board, Los Angeles.

Holdsworth, Karen I., 1987. Salton Sea Evaporation Pons. IID Unpublished Working Paper.

Imperial Irrigation District, 1986. Final Impact Report (EIR)-Proposed Water Conservation Program and Initial Water Transter. California Clearinghouse No. 8612903.

James M. Montgomery, Consulting Engineers, 1987. Draft New River Pollution Abatement Report Recommended Projects. A Report for the California Regional Water Qua1ity Contro Board, Colorado River Basin - Region 7. Pasadena.

Levy,. Tom. 1986 The Salton Sea - History and Impact on the Coachella Valley. Testimony before the California Senate Committee on Natural Resources and Wildlife, on behalf of Coachella Valley Water District, Indio, CA. October 20.

Parsons Water Resources, Inc. 1985. Water Requirements and Availability Study. A Report for the Imperial Irrigation District. Pasadena.

United States Bureau of Reclamation, 1972. An Economic Study of Lands Adjacent to the Salton Sea - Past, Present and Projected Values as Influenced by Salinity Control. Phoenix, Arizona.

United States Department of Interior and the Resources Agency of California, 1974. Salton Sea Project California. Sacramento.

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