Bad Tech

Saving the Salton Sea

I sometimes worry about my mental health.  I’m lying in bed and I get these manic ideas on social research about spatial awareness or even how to save the world. You know bullshit theories.

This is a good one.

The Salton Sea, is salty, but it’s not a sea. It’s a “rift lake.”   Meaning it flooded in 1905 when the irrigation gate couldn’t handle two wet years in a row from the Colorado River.   Oops.  That’s the kind of shit that used to happen before we had all those “gov’ment bureaucrats” to keep freedom loving entrepreneurs from wasting millions of gallons of freshwater.

That mistake left a mud flat that gets about 5-feet deep.

Water runs off the shit-fueled agriculture in the central Valley spilling more toxic goo into the salty “sea.”  A few desert rivers feed a meager stream of dirty brown water.

But it’s one one of the hottest and driest places on earth. “The sea” has been evaporating ever since 1907. Every year the water gets lower, saltier and shittier.


Stole the image from the Sierra Club. Didn’t read the article – tree-hugging… blah, blah, blah…

It’s actually 236 feet below sea level.  The San Andreas fault runs under the water and is pulling the ground apart. It’s getting lower and lower.

There’s a 60-foot “mound” that prevents the Gulf of California from flowing downhill and flooding most of that rift valley.

I’m sure I read about it somewhere before but couldn’t find the link.  Here’s ‘my” bullshit theory for killing two birds with one stone:

Climate change is raising sea levels.  The Salton Sea is below sea level.  Let’s bulldoze that little mound and flood that rift valley — win-win.

A small canal running about 120 miles would do.  There are 3 canals within 10 miles of my house in Gilbert that have a combined length of 120 miles. The Hohokams in Arizona dug twice that many canals with stone tools in 500 AD… Not that hard to dig with a couple of D-9 dozers.

Of course it’s just a drop in the bucket for sea change.  Of course, the Salton Sea is hardly worth saving… But here’s the kicker.


We could line that canal with solar panels and create a molten salt solar power plant.  We use the sun to super heat the salt.  The salt holds in the heat for days and weeks at a time.

We run the sea water over the molten salt to make steam.  Steam makes electricity — especially when the sun doesn’t shine.

The steam cools into fresh water.  We pump the fresh water to the Colorado River system which already feeds the farms, towns and cities in the thirsty southwest.  Win-win-win.

Leftover sea water drains into the Salton Sea and lifts its level. The salt supply keeps coming in with every new batch of sea water in the canal.

I’ve mentioned this idea at dinner parties before. People look at me like I’ve lost my mind. I’m sure it’s the same looks they gave Galileo, and Edison.

That’s what happens when an idea makes perfect sense to me, but no one else can see.

I don’t have the capital, the energy or the expertise to actually make it work.  Hell, I couldn’t even market this idea to this bullshit audience…

I’m just the idea guy.  So it’s never going to happen.

But in those quiet moments early in the morning, I still think saving the Salton Sea with a few canals and a couple of solar panels is a fucking good idea.

7 replies »

  1. It’s a fascinating idea. But don’t forget, the nearby city of Indio, population 90,000, is about 50 feet below sea level. That canal would drown that city, if it brings water levels up to sea level. But if you’ve ever been to Indio, you might conclude that would be a good thing. Towns like El Centro and Brawley would also drown. Again, maybe a good thing.
    I understand there are Native American legends about great earthquakes in the distant past, that were followed by water rushing in from the Sea of Cortez and flooding out the Imperial and Coachella valleys. So your idea does seem plausible, in my view.

    Liked by 2 people

    • thanks… Not thinking of flooding out the entire valley — just bringing Salton Sea back to 1950’s levels… It’s the fresh water that would be the most valuable part of the whole plan.

      Liked by 2 people

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