This was submitted as an idea to the Politifest 2012 Idea Tournament. VOSD members will vote on the best ideas and on Sept. 19 we’ll announce six contenders (Not a member? Join now to vote). At Politifest on Sept. 29, each of the six finalists will have five minutes to pitch their idea to a panel. The panel rates the ideas and two finalists advance. The crowd at Politifest will vote on a winner. The winner will receive an “idea-inspired” trophy custom-designed by former City Councilwoman Donna Frye. VOSD CEO Scott Lewis will also write about the winner’s idea.

San Diego has an imperiled long-term drinking water supply. Simultaneously, Los Angeles’ Metropolitan Water District has imposed onerous costs on San Diego County Water Authority and its ratepayers. Metropolitan controls San Diego’s imported water infrastructure.

Our alternative supply from the Colorado River directly impacts the viability of the Salton Sea. Fallowing of Imperial farmland reduces the runoff that previously fed the Salton Sea. The current water transfer agreement with Imperial Irrigation District places responsibility on ratepayers to prevent the specter of an Owens Valley-scale air pollution disaster in the Salton Sea basin. This has been an intractable problem, yet there is remedy.

A pipeline from San Diego could be employed to pump sea water from the Pacific Ocean to the Salton Sea, making use of Imperial County’s abundant photovoltaic resources to power the pumps. Replenishing with ocean water would prevent the sea from drying out, as well keep secure decades of dissolved chemicals, fertilizers and selenium from becoming airborne and reducing Imperial County to a status of being nearly uninhabitable. The current salinity of the Salton Sea is almost 25 percent greater than sea water. This seawater pipeline would provide time for California to find a permanent solution, without causing the Salton Sea to reach a state of hyper salinity.

The pipeline would pump seawater inland during summer, drinking water back to San Diego reservoirs in winter. In years of excess, the pipeline would provide San Diego the ability to “bank” water. Pumping costs would be monitored and prorated, along with establishing a two-way pricing mechanism. San Diego would benefit by establishing an alternative continuous supply of drinking water. The Salton Sea would be stabilized and help salvage a crucial wild bird migratory stop. The state of California would be given time to secure additional funding mechanisms to save the sea.

George Courser submitted this idea to the Politifest 2012 Idea Tournament. Join us on Sept. 29!

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