Oct 1, 2015 | Water Reviews

Water Review: Restoring the Salton Sea

An Ambitious Plan to Restore the Salton Sea

Imperial Irrigation District, County Launch Joint Effort

The September 2015 Family Farm “Water Review” discusses Imperial Irrigation District’s efforts to restore California’s Salton Sea. In taking the next steps to avert the impending demise of the Salton Sea, eventual public health crisis and spur carbon-free energy development for California, the Imperial Irrigation District Board of Directors earlier this year released a framework document that provides a comprehensive vision and specific actions in support of its Salton Sea Restoration and Renewable Energy Initiative.

A joint effort between IID and Imperial County, the initiative is a multi-phased approach to Salton Sea restoration – the first phase being the development of a plan for an incremental restoration approach that will bridge the gap between current conditions and longer-range Salton Sea restoration planning measures.

The initiative includes construction of additional habitat in designated areas as funds become available and construction of an infrastructure backbone that promotes development of renewable energy in areas of exposed dried lakebed, or “playa”. It also addresses habitat requirements for the endangered desert pupfish, provides water, power and access roads for habitat and promotes air quality mitigation land uses around the sea.

The final leg of the initiative includes construction of geothermal development and other renewable energy projects. Projects sited on exposed lakebed will serve a dual purpose: producing renewable energy while doubling as groundcover to mitigate air emissions. Under legislation enacted in 2013, planning and implementing projects at the sea will be driven locally by the Salton Sea Authority, with support from the State of California.

The Initiative will first focus on developing up to 1,700 megawatts of new geothermal energy at the sea – enough to power more than one million homes. Not only is there more geothermal generating capacity in the Imperial Valley than anywhere else in the U.S., but geothermal energy can be produced with minimal impact on landscape and habitat. It also provides a steady, reliable source of energy to the state electricity grid that is not subject to weather or seasonal fluctuations.

Learn more about this initiative by downloading here: