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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Boons or boondoggles: An assessment of the Salton Sea water importation options


Several ways to address the looming ecological disaster that is the Salton Sea have been proposed — including water importation. Here we considered two options: importing ocean water from the Sea of Cortés and leasing water from agricultural users in the Imperial Valley. We estimated the monetary costs for importing Sea of Cortés water to the Salton Sea and compared that with the costs of transferring water from agricultural users to the Salton Sea. We found that leasing water from agriculture would be substantially cheaper than ocean water imports. Additionally, all the infrastructure for leasing water from growers exists, which means water transfers could begin immediately. That is important given the present and increasing environmental and human health damages that are occurring at the Salton Sea.

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