Salton Sea Report Evaluates Restoration Options

The U.S. Interior Department's Bureau of Reclamation has released a draft report summarizing the bureau's recent efforts to determine a preferred alternative for restoring the Salton Sea.

The bureau was directed to conduct the study and provide Congress a report on a preferred alternative for Salton Sea restoration by Public Law 108-361. This report partially fulfills that requirement, officials said. A final summary report is anticipated by late spring.

The draft, announced on Feb. 2, discusses the problems and challenges facing the Salton Sea, such as increasing salinity, air quality concerns, selenium and eutrophication (enrichment of lakes by nutrients, typically nitrogen and phosphorus). The document also describes and evaluates the physical, biological and engineering aspects of five potential project alternatives: a mid-sea dam with a north marine lake; a mid-sea barrier with south marine lake; concentric lakes; north-sea dam with marine lake; and habitat enhancement without marine lake. A no-project alternative also is evaluated.

The bureau coordinated its studies with the California Department of Water Resources and the Salton Sea Authority. The federal government's alternatives are conceptually similar to those presented by those entities, but there are differences in design and cost estimates between the alternatives. The bureau applied its own internal design criteria and guidelines, resulting in a different level of consideration given to design, as well as its own internal study methods and data assumptions.

The draft has been posted at http://www.usbr.gov/lc/region/programs/saltonsea.html. It will be available for review until March 5.

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