Posts tagged ‘Salton Sea’

Next They Will Be Campaigning to Save the Oil Residue on Alaskan Beaches

I thought this was really funny -- from an email I got today:

With water supplies drying up in the next 10 years, the Salton Sea poses an economic and ecological threat to the Coachella Valley and large portions of Riverside and Imperial counties. And while plans to restore the Salton Sea exist, government funding and determination to tackle this potential multi-billion disaster have not materialized.

Why is this funny?  Because the Salton Sea is the result of a man-made environmental disaster about a century ago.  The lake formed when floodwaters from the Colorado River roared down a man-made canal, breached a dike, and formed the lake.  Since then, this record "spill" which dwarfs the sum total volume of every oil spill of all time has been slowly drying up like a puddle on the garage floor.  I suppose I am OK retaining it if people have gotten used to it, but I find it funny that the natural reversal of a man-made ecological disaster is itself an ecological threat.

The following, by the way, has to be the dumbest idea of all time from an economic and energy balance perspective:

The Imperial County Board of Supervisors and Imperial Irrigation District have voted to explore the Sea to Sea Plan, which not only brings water to the sea, but generates hydroelectric energy that will be used for desalinization of water that can then be sold to water users throughout the Southwestern United States and Mexico. This new, reliable water supply will generate funds for further Salton Sea restoration.

So we pay money to pump water out of the Sea of Cortez, but then somehow have this generate electricity that pays for desalinization to then pump the water back out of the Salton Sea for irrigation.  Sorry folks, but I think the second law of thermodynamics says this won't work.

Update: OK, from here, one source says the water generates energy via hydroelectric plants, which seems odd (pumping water up and then harvesting the energy going down never balances, though this is used in certain California lakes as a method of energy storage) while one source says the power is geothermal.  Hmm, does "half-baked" come to mind reading this?

Update #2:  Shouldn't desalinization occur as close as possible to the source?  Otherwise you are paying to pump tons of salt you are going to eventually remove.

Environmental Preservation of a Man-Made Lake

Environmentalists are working to preserve another priceless natural treasure, one that has been on this earth supporting its habitat for, uh, decades.  From the Save the Salton Sea web site:

proposed transfer of water from the Imperial Valley to San Diego as
part of the reduction of California's Colorado River use, the possible
reclamation of New River water by Mexico, and the increased evaporation
from the Sea's restoration all threaten to reduce lake levels.  The
proposed transfer of the 300,000 acre feet alone, if inflows are not
replaced, is estimated to drop lake levels by over 16 feet, exposing
almost 70 square miles of sediments.  The result could be potential air
quality problems caused by blowing dust, seaside homes stranded far
from the Sea, and greatly accelerated concentrations of salts and

Of course its freaking drying up.  In a sense, this lake represents the United States' largest industrial spill, as early in the 20th century a couple of Colorado River aqueducts broke and poured water into the Salton basin, creating a brand new sea.  By usual environmentalist arguments, this lake is supposed to dry up, having been an artificial creation of man.  (By the way, as an extra credit task, I challenge you to find anywhere in the web site linked above where they mention that the lake is a man-made accident that is barely 100 years old).

HT:  Maggies Farm