Black & Veatch offers solution to looming environmental crisis on Salton Sea

Black & Veatch Corp., a global engineering and construction company with significant California operations, has recently unveiled a potential solution for fixing the ailing Salton Sea.

Jun 6th, 2003

Irvine, Calif., June 6, 2003 - California's elected officials, local community leaders, environmentalists, water officials and agricultural industry face a great challenge in attempting to save Southern California's Salton Sea, which was created by accident but now firmly rooted as a significant natural estuary for many wildlife.

Recognizing the serious environmental consequences at hand but also the great opportunity to create a new water supply, Black & Veatch Corporation, a global engineering and construction company with significant California operations, has recently unveiled a potential solution for fixing the ailing Salton Sea.

The Salton Sea is the largest inland lake in California, spanning 231,000 acres (35 miles long x 15 miles wide) in Imperial County. The sea, created by an accidental breach in a water canal, is continuously fed by drainage water from surrounding agricultural operations.

However, a looming environmental crisis has emerged, garnering significant federal and state attention, as the lake dries and salt contents increase to intolerable and dangerous levels, jeopardizing local wildlife.

Proposed water transfers contained within the California 4.4 Plan and the accompanying Quantification Settlement Agreement, two complex agreements that seek to resolve disputes over and reallocate California's current use of Colorado River water, further reduce inflows to the lake, exacerbating the sea's existing salinity problems. State and national stakeholders have identified the Salton Sea as a critical ecosystem and have long sought a comprehensive solution and the necessary funding to save the sea.

"When we began our design process, restoring and preserving the Salton Sea ecosystem was obviously a core objective of our efforts," said David Argo, senior vice president for Black & Veatch. "But, recognizing California's overwhelming need for additional new water supplies, Black & Veatch also sought to design a concept that could reclaim and treat agricultural drainage water, thereby producing a new, reliable and cost effective water supply for California."

Black & Veatch's proposal for stabilizing the Salton Sea utilizes evaporation or brine ponds, created by a dike and dredging system and located along a portion of the Sea's perimeter, to lower salinity levels in the sea. In addition, by reducing inflows into the Salton Sea, a supply of agricultural drainage water can now be captured and treated at a proposed treatment plant, creating a new, high quality water supply for Southern California.

That supply can be utilized by local water agencies or transferred into the Colorado River Aqueduct. A shoreline canal would surround the dike system and evaporation/brine ponds to ensure continuity of the existing shoreline for aesthetics and habitat. Black & Veatch's concept maintains a significant portion of the overall sea and its existing shoreline and incorporates less intrusive and less costly construction requirements, utilizing small diking systems vs. large dams or other capital facilities.

By capturing and treating agricultural drainage water, which is typically lost and not utilized, a new reliable supply of water can be produced for California. Facing massive population growth, increasing environmental regulations, new legislative requirements for developments and increasing uncertainty along the major water delivery systems, California's water managers and state officials are aggressively pursuing new opportunities to create alternate water supplies.

Black & Veatch's concept can provide up to 400,000 acre-feet of new water each year. Agricultural drainage water is a cost effective source of new water, with treatment costs running several hundred dollars an acre-foot less than reuse or desalination.

Black & Veatch's Salton Sea concept provides multiple benefits:
* Improves the Salton Sea water quality in perpetuity;
* Preserves the Salton Sea's ecosystem;
* Maintains a significant portion of the existing Salton Sea and its shoreline;
* Produces a new, reliable and cost effective source of water for California; and
* Improves water quality of the Colorado River Aqueduct.

About Black & Veatch

Black & Veatch Corporation is a global engineering, construction and consulting company specializing in infrastructure development in the fields of energy, water and information. Founded in 1915, Black & Veatch serves its clients with conceptual and preliminary engineering services, engineering design, procurement, construction, financial management, asset management, information technology, environmental, security design and consulting, and management consulting services.

The Water Sector provides technology-based solutions to utilities, governments and industries worldwide. Local project managers work with a global team of water and wastewater treatment process experts to address site-specific challenges through a broad range of consulting, study, planning, design, design-build and construction management services.

The employee-owned company has more than 90 offices worldwide and is ranked 78th on the Forbes "500 Largest Private Companies in the U.S." listing for 2002. The company's Web site address is www.bv.com.


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