#ColoradoRiver Salinity Control Program Reduces River’s Salt Load #COriver

The Central Arizona Aqueduct delivers water from the Colorado River to underground aquifers in southern Arizona. UT researcher Bridget Scanlon recommends more water storage projects like the aqueduct to help protect against variability in the river’s water supply. U.S. Bureau of Reclamation.
The Central Arizona Aqueduct delivers water from the Colorado River to underground aquifers in southern Arizona. UT researcher Bridget Scanlon recommends more water storage projects like the aqueduct to help protect against variability in the river’s water supply. U.S. Bureau of Reclamation.

Here’s the release from the Central Arizona Project:

To know the quality, you need to visit the source. That’s the case with CAP water – to know the quality, you need to look to the Colorado River. Back in 1975 – more than 40 years ago – the seven Colorado River Basin states adopted an EPA-approved salinity standard for the Colorado River. This standard provides criteria for dissolved solids and a plan designed to keep the average annual salinity concentrations at or below 1972 levels. Salinity control is important because increased salt levels can limit or prohibit agricultural productivity and add costs to municipal and industrial water users. All Colorado River water users benefit from investments in improved water quality, including those in Mexico.

The Colorado River Salinity Control Program is managed by a partnership of federal and state agencies that have worked cooperatively with tribal communities, irrigation companies and individual water users for the past four decades to control the salinity levels of the Colorado River, while allowing development and use of its waters. CAP represents Arizona water users on the Salinity Control Forum along with the Arizona Department of Water Resources and the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality. Through efforts to date, the salt load of the Colorado River has been reduced by about 1.3 million tons annually. The current plan calls for the creation of an additional 67,000 tons of annual salinity control practices over the next three years.

Today, the Colorado River currently meets all applicable water quality standards, but the challenge in an era of drought is to protect and maintain that quality going forward. To meet this challenge, CAP, the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California and Southern Nevada Water Authority joined together in 2011 to form the Lower Colorado River Water Quality Partnership. The Partnership works to identify and implement proactive, collaborative solutions to address Colorado River water quality by identifying the challenges currently facing the River, collaborating on research and policy analysis and developing initiatives and solutions to ensure the River’s future health and sustainability.

The Partnership recognizes the importance of collaborating on current Colorado River water quality issues and participating in ongoing monitoring and clean-up efforts to maintain the integrity of the Colorado River. The Partnership has closely monitored various remediation efforts throughout the Colorado River Basin and advocated for expeditious clean-up. The Partnership has also reviewed and commented, as needed, on project proposals, including regulatory and legislative project developments, to minimize potential threats to water quality in the Colorado River.

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