EL CENTRO - GEI Consultants, a group of consulting engineers and scientists, was one of several businesses who submitted a project proposal for the restoration of the Salton Sea along with several other applicants.
Among 11 total submittals, only three were considered complete enough to continue with the selection process, officials said. At the Salton Sea Management Program public workshop October 4, GEI presented a proposal to give the public a better understanding of what their idea of the project entails.
According to the presentation, GEI Consultants, Inc. (GEI) is a nationally- recognized engineering firm founded in 1970. They have worked on several projects, including the Oroville Dam, Coachella Canal Lining, and the All-American Canal Lining, company representatives said.
GEI’s proposition to restore the Salton Sea includes importing water from the Gulf of California, desalinating the water, and exchange of the desalinated water. GEI said this plan would restore the sea to seawater quality and benefit all seven basin states and Mexico.
Michael Clinton, principal engineer for Michael Clinton Consulting, estimated the evaporative and seepage losses at about 100,000 acre/feet per year through their project.
“There’s a structural deficit of over a million acre feet in the lower basin. It’s kind of like a bathtub. If you don’t have a control on the stopper, pretty soon the bathtub is going to go empty,” said Clinton.
According to Clinton, water from the gulf could be piped to the Salton Sea, passing through a pumping plant that will raise the water 100 feet to allow gravity to pull the water through to its final destination.
When the water reaches the Mexican border, it will go through a four-mile tunnel. At the head of the tunnel, the water would be scrubbed to clean out fish and a disinfectant is added into the tunnel. The water then would make it to the fore bay before being surged into the Salton Sea through the power plant, according to Clinton.
GEI’s proposed project also includes a desalination facility that would be able to desalinate up to 2,000,000 acre/feet per year to be distributed to IID, Coachella Valley Water District, and Mexico. According to their reports, Mexico is anticipated to buy 100,000 acre/feet per year through their project.
With the desalination of the water, Clinton listed several different routes that need to be further investigated regarding the salt and minerals that will be leftover. He mentioned the possibility of conveying it to the Gulf of California, using brine to cover the playa, or possibly using the recovered minerals in commercial markets.
“When we desalinate this water, we’re going to have millions of tons of salt and that’s a challenge. We don’t quite know where to go with it yet. There are several possibilities, but we’ll need to do more research,” said Clinton.
The plan proposed by GEI Consultants is one of three plans being considered for restoration of the Salton Sea. Research, evaluations, and further discussions by the evaluation committee members needs to be done before a decision can be made and restoration on the Salton Sea can begin, officials said.