J. Paul Riley

Document Type


Publication Date



Salinity poses a serious and continuing problem to the full utilization of water resources in many river basins of western U.S. A variety of management measures have been employed to mitigate the damaging effects of salinity on agricultural crops as well as on municipal and industrial uses of water. The Colorado River Basin Salinity Control Act illustrates the logic of addressing the problem on a basin wide basis under a strategy that give priority to those localized sources of salinity that contribute disproportionately large amounts of salt to the system. It remains then to devise control measures specific to each site which are the most cost effective in arresting or revising the progressive degradation of water quality. It is within the above conceptual framework that this study seeks to evaluate the feasibility of combining a particular set of technologies whose joint operation might accomplish the salt reduction while converting certain liabilities into assets and introducing new benefit streams so as to increase the net benefits accruing from the management measures. Specifically, it is the objective of this study to evaluate the feasibility of removing salt from a hydrologic system by using mineral extraction ponds that double as sources of salt gradient solar energy and are also managed to provide habitat for fish or shell fish that grow in marine environments. The solar energy would be used to maintain proper year round water temperatures for aquaculture as well as for enhancement of the mineral extraction process. The approach would be to design a combination aquaculture-energy-mineral extraction system for a specific location near Sigurd, Utah, where the hydrogeochemistry dynamics of the Sevier River and a high salt contributing section have been recently studied by Sepehr (1984) and for which a validated and high resolution computer model is available. Ambient site conditions, actual hydro-salinity information, and current economic and marketing information will be used in determining the feasibility of the joint technologies. If the integrated use of these technologies appears feasible, it can be adapted to other “hot spots” of the Sevier River or other western U.S. rivers where such problems exist. The results of this study are of particular interest to state agencies responsible for water resources planning and management, those concerned with energy use, and those interested in economic development. The study is also of interest to the federal SCS, and the Bureau of Reclamation. Those living in proximity to these salt producing reaches have a keen interest in management options that they might be profitably exploited under private initiatives.