by Sheryl Hamlin
The Salton Sea Management Program (SSMP) released its Fatal Flaws Report, where three submissions were deemed to exhibit no fatal flaws.
To download the Fatal Flaws report, click here which is the University of Santa Cruz website. The university was hired by the State of California to evaluate water importation possibilities for the Salton Sea.
To read the bios of the Independent Review Panel, click here.
The recording of the most recent meeting (July 20, 2022) will be posted at this url: video
Fatal Flaw Webinar Meeting
The webinar was driven by Brett Haddad who is the PI (Principal Investigator) for the SSMP. Mr. Haddad is a professor at UC Santa Cruz who wrote this article in the LA Times in 2002, where he appears to be resigned to the death of the Salton Sea.
Mr. Alexis Soto of the Desert Review summarized the technical aspects of the July 20, 2022 Fatal Flaws webinar. Read the excellent summary here.
Q&A Raise More Questions
During the Question and Answer session of the webinar, several important questions revealed unstated subtext to the entire process.
Someone asked about the next steps. Mr. Haddad said there would be a detailed feasibility study including cost/benefits and timelines. He said that the panel’s end product is a “recommendation to the State” and that “the panel has no authority”.
Sheryl Hamlin asked if lithium mining and a restored Salton Sea could coexist? Mr. Haddad said he would respond to this himself. He said in the fatal flaw analysis there was nothing related to lithium but the panel is aware of discussion and is taking this into consideration.
However, the US Government said this about coexistence with lithium mining: Possible conflicts exist between the Proposed Project and future developments including for geothermal and lithium. The opportunity areas east of the New River are located in the Salton Sea Known Geothermal Resource Area (KGRA). The California Energy Commission (CEC) has convened the Lithium Valley Commission, which is charged with reviewing, investigating, and analyzing certain issues and potential incentives regarding lithium extraction and use in California. Modifications to aquatic habitat and dust suppression projects and associated environmental permitting to accommodate future projects including geothermal and lithium development would be the responsibility of the geothermal and lithium developers. Therefore, an analysis of such development is outside the scope of this assessment. Source: pdf page 67 in this document
When asked about Tetratech, Mr Haddad said the relationship between the panel and Tetratech is separate. They maintain a wall. The panel is independent. Tetratech has been consulting to the State of California for fifteen years, according to their website, on issues relating to the Salton Sea.
There was also important discussion about intellectual property submitted in the proposals, particularly in those rejected.
Annette Morales Roe from On-line Land Planning, said that California law and politics will kill the three proposals. CNRA will judge, she said.
Significant, but Not Discussed at Webinar
Senator Feinstein is trying to get support for the Salton Sea. Read the press release here.
There appear to be two incompatible streams of thought on the Salton Sea:
1) restore the area’s ecological balance, prevent future degradation and health impairment due to dust and water contamination and develop a usable habitat area for animals, homes and recreation, or
2) Allow the water to disappear and create a massive open pit mine surrounded by multi-storied power production facilities such as the one shown in this rendering: https://www.cthermal.com/latest-news/ctr-commences-drill-program-at-hells-kitchen-lithium-and-power
We know these two outcomes are incompatible based on logic and the statements of the CEO of Controlled Thermal Resources. CEO Colwell indicates a preference for solution number 2 because it provides more land for lithium and energy:
“Colwell keeps track of the Salton Sea’s water levels because as it evaporates, more land becomes available for Controlled Thermal Resources, the Australia-based lithium mining and geothermal power company where he is CEO. On this “blank canvas” of exposed land, he imagines a grid filled with huge, steam-emitting facilities, a cathode manufacturing plant for batteries and solar panels, and rows of crops to remediate the salty white soils.”
Salton Sea Authority
The Salton Sea Authority (SSA) has posted numerous conceptual solutions, none of which shows mining or energy physically on the conceptual drawings, but there is mention of the geothermal as a potential source of funding for the Salton Sea. https://saltonsea.com/get-informed/proposed-solutions/
The SSA is considering water import solutions, geothermal expansion and lithium mining with a smaller sea area which is described in this comprehensive consultant’s report: report download
Previous Articles on the Salton Sea
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