6 salinity control projects get $20.9M to keep Colorado River healthy

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  • $20.9 million will be used to fund six projects to reduce salinity in the Colorado River.
  • This will prevent 11,661 tons of salt from entering the river each year.
  • The projects will benefit farmers and reduce water treatment costs.
  • They were chosen based on competitive process.

February 15, 2024 — The Colorado River is a vital source of water for millions of people in the western United States. However, the river is becoming increasingly salty, which can harm crops and damage infrastructure. These new projects, announced by the Bureau of ReclamationOpens in a new tab., will help to keep the river healthy for future generations.

Six salinity control projects in Colorado and Utah were selected through a competitive process, open to the public.

According to Reclamation, this funding will prevent approximately 11,661 tons of salt each year from entering the Colorado River. Quantified economic damages due to salinity in Colorado River water is currently about $332 million per year in the United States. It is estimated that damages would increase to $631 million per year without the Colorado River Basin Salinity Control Program.

What they’re saying:

“These awards will make improvements to off-farm irrigation systems like ditches and laterals in the Upper Basin States and prevent economic damages to downstream users by improving Colorado River water quality,” said Clarence Fullard, program manager for Reclamation’s Colorado River Basin Salinity Control Program.

More on this:

Salinity is a major problem in the Colorado River Basin. Salinity levels increase as the river flows south, primarily due to natural sources. These natural sources of salt were deposited as marine sediments millions of years ago. Additionally, irrigation and other human activities can add to salinity levels. High salinity levels impact agricultural production by causing lower yields and reducing the types of crops that can be grown. Salty water can also cause problems for municipalities and industries and reduce available drinking water supplies.

To learn more, visit the Colorado River Basin Salinity Control Program at http://www.usbr.gov/uc/progact/salinityOpens in a new tab..

Image: Ashley Upper and Highline Canal rehabilitation under the Colorado River Basin Salinity Control Program, via Bureau of Reclamation press releaseOpens in a new tab..


Since 1995, Deborah has owned and operated LegalTech LLC with a focus on water rights. Before moving to Arizona in 1986, she worked as a quality control analyst for Honeywell and in commercial real estate, both in Texas. She learned about Arizona's water rights from the late and great attorney Michael Brophy of Ryley, Carlock & Applewhite. Her side interests are writing (and reading), Wordpress programming and much more.

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