Salton Sea projects could raise more than $4 billion for the State of California over the next 30 years. A study conducted by the Imperial Irrigation District suggests development of green technology in the region could generate enough revenue to begin restoration of the threatened sea.
The inland sea was formed in 1905 as the result of heavy flooding. As the Colorado River breached several flood gates, the water eventually pooled in the Salton Trough. The water flowed into the trough for nearly two years. By 1907, the inland sea covered nearly 900 square miles.
As reported by the California Department of Parks and Recreation, the sea is a popular destination for camping, boating, fishing, and hiking. Unfortunately, in recent years, the sea has begun to recede.
As the water recedes, the salt levels are rising. Environmentalists are concerned that the dust blowing off the exposed bed could be toxic. They are also concerned that the fish will not be able to tolerate the rising levels of salt.
IID manager Bruce Wilcox said the environmental program will provide funding to “build habitat and renewable energy in the same area.” Although complete restoration of the Salton Sea could cost up to $9 billion, Wilcox said the funding will “jump-start” the restoration.
The report outlines several sources of revenue from the project. My Desert reports an estimated $2 billion is expected from geothermal plants, which would provide nearly 2,000 megawatts of electricity. Minerals extracted from the brine, including lithium, are expected to generate nearly $1.5 billion.
The projected revenue also includes profits from the installation of solar panels and the development of algae farms.
The Salton Sea project is expected to make a positive impact on California’s environment and economy. However, maintaining the required equipment may be difficult. The brine in the Salton Sea is incredibly corrosive. Therefore, the equipment would need to specifically developed to resist and combat corrosion.
Dust and salt mist, which are common in the area, could collect on the solar panels. The dust could significantly reduce the performance of the mirrored panels.
Although there may be some issues, the IID is confident that the project will create enough revenue to begin a restoration program and positively impact the environment.
[Image via Wikimedia]