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PARADOX VALLEY, COLO.
Paradox Valley in southwestern Colorado is underlain by a collapsed salt dome known to be 14,000 feet thick. Within the valley, the pure salt source is within 60 to 100 feet of the ground surface. The Dolores River, a tributary of the Colorado, crosses the valley near its midpoint and picks up over 200,000 tons of salt annually from rising ground water entering the river. This area has been under construction as a salinity control project for many years.
The project plan calls for the installation of a field of about eight brine wells, 250 feet deep, that would lower the freshwater-brine interface by pumping, thus preventing the brines from rising to the ground surface and entering the river. The pumped brines would be conveyed about 20 miles from the well field at an elevation of 4,940 feet, through a series of pumping stations where it would be evaporated.
The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation estimated cost of construction, based on 1973 prices, for the brine wells, pumping plants, pipeline, and reservoir, is $16 million, and interest during construction raises the total capital costs to $17,650,000. The annual operation, maintenance, and replacement costs based on the expected life of equipment and a 67s-percent interest rate is $350,000. Total annual costs, including amortization of the capital costs over 100 years at an interest rate of 6 78-percent, would be $1,600,000.
The removal of 180,000 tons per year of salts from the Colorado River system would reduce the river's salinity at Imperial Dam by 20 parts per million in the year 2000. This would result in a reduction in damages to users of $4,600,000 per year, for a benefit/cost ratio of 2.9 to 1.
The soils of this general area are derived from Mancos shale. This marine formation has a very high salt content. Ground water percolating over and through the weathered and cracked upper zone of the shale picks up high concentrates of salt which are transported to the Colorado River through wasteways, ditches, or by natural ground water movement to the river.
The Department of Agriculture estimates that the salt load of the Colorado River is increased by a total of about 700,000 tons per year as the river flows through the valley, with return flows from irrigated agriculture in Grand Valley estimated as contributing about 500,000 tons of the total. Reduction of the salt contribution by irrigated agriculture in Grand Valley would be achieved by reducing the amount of deep percolation of applied agricultural water and the leakage from the conveyance and distribution systems.
The cost of the system improvement portion of the Grand Valley program is estimated to be $59 million for consolidating and lining canals and laterals, and replacing and rehabilitating canal and lateral control structures.
The estimated local share is based upon anticipated savings to local interests in operation and maintenance expenses of the rehabilitated canal and lateral systems. The salt reductions of 200,000 tons to 280,000 tons per year would cause reductions in the river's salinity at Imperial Dam in the year 2000 of 23 to 32 p/m. The resulting reductions in damages to users would range from $5,300,000 to $7,400,000, for benefit/cost ratios of 1.1/1 to 1.6/1.
CRYSTAL GEYSER, UTAH
The Crystal Geyser is an abandoned oil test well, located 3.5 miles south of the town of Green River, Utah, on the east bank of the Green River. Saline water originating from the Navajo sandstone formation, 700 feet deep, rises through the geyser, which erupts at approximately 5-hour intervals. The erupted water has a salt concentration of 11,000 to 14,000 p/m and contributes 3,000 tons of salt annually to the Colorado River.
An idea would be to construct a dike around the points of eruption to capture the erupted water. A portion of the erupted water would return to the geyser, and the remainder would be conveyed by gravity through a pipeline about 3 miles to a 40-acre evaporation pond. The control plan would prevent the entire annual 3,000 tons of salt from entering the river.
The estimated cost of the proposed project would be $490,000, with an annual operation, maintenance, and replacement cost of $3,000. The salinity impact at Imperial Dam of removing 3,000 tons per year of salt by the project would be 0.3 p/m reduction in the year 2000. This is equivalent to a benefit of $70,000 per year or a benefit/cost ratio of 2.3/1.
LAS VEGAS WASH, NEV. Las Vegas Wash is a natural channel which drains from the Las Vegas Valley into the Las Vegas Bay arm of Lake Mead.
The wash adds about 209,000 tons of dissolved solids annually to the Colorado River system. Effluent from sewage treatment plants with secondary treatment and powerplant cooling water blowdown, account for about 20 percent of the total salt load. The remaining 80 percent of the salt load comes from rising ground water, a diffuse source that includes flows from a long established ground water mound beneath industrial waste ponds and other regional ground water discharge flows.
The proposed plan for reducing the contribution of salinity of Las Vegas Wash ground water consists of a ground water interception facility, delivery pipeline, pumping plant, evaporation pond, and surface flow bypass system. This solar evaporation plan is estimated to reduce the salt contribution of the wash by 131,000 tons annually.
The estimated cost of the proposed salinity reduction program is $49.6 million with an annual operation, maintenance and replacement cost of $200,000. Annual costs, based on amortizing the capital costs of 100 years at an interest rate of 676, would be $4 million. The removal of 131,000 tons a year of salt from the river would reduce the river's salinity at Imperial Dam by 13 ppm, which reduction would reduce annual damages to users by $3 million. The benefit/cost ratio attributable to this project would be 0.75/1.
CONTINUING SALINITY CONTROL PROGRAM
In addition to the four projects to be authorized for construction, there are a number of other potential salinity control projects on which planning reports should be completed expeditiously. Previous studies by the Environmental Protection Agency and the Bureau of Reclamation have identified these projects. The projects fall into three categories: point, irrigation, and diffuse source, and are as listed:
Point source control: LaVerkin Springs, Utah; Littlefield Springs, Ariz.; and Glenwood-Dotsero Springs, Colo.
Irrigation source control: Lower Gunnison, Colo.; Uintah Basin, Utah; Colorado River Indian Reservation, Ariz.; Palo Verde Irrigation District, Calif.
Diffuse source control: Price River, Utah; San Rafael River, Utah; Dirty Devil River, Utah; McElmo Creek, Colo.; Big Sandy River, Wyo.
Preliminary estimates of the Bureau of Reclamation indicate that a total salt reduction of approximately 1,130,000 tons annually and a reduction in salt concentration of 100 ppm at Imperial Dam is possible from these 12 sources.
NON-FEDERAL MEASURES TO CONTROL SALINITY
Users of Colorado River water have initiated programs to minimize the damaging impacts of salinity. These programs include the control of effluent from thermal-electric power plants and other industrial users, reappraisal of authorized water development projects, installation of underground drains in agricultural areas, and blending of Colorado River water with a higher quality water in Southern California. This would be effective through improved irrigation management and the lining of canals and laterals.
These are discussed in some detail in the paragraphs that follow. I would now direct your attention to paye 49, bottom of page 49.
FINANCING SALINITY CONTROL PROJECTS
The salinity of the Colorado River has local, State, national, and international aspects. While there are many entities and levels of government concerned with the salinity of the Colorado River, only the Federal Government is involved in all major aspects of the salinity problem. The Federal Government, in minute 242, has the objective of arriving at a permanent and definitive solution to the problem of the salinity of the water delivered to Mexico. Without upsteam salinity control, the problem will not remain solved. Federal lands are the source of most of the naturally-occurring salts in the river. Accordingly, it is believed that the Federal Government is the appropriate unit of Government to initially finance the salinity control project and to bear a major share of the repayment responsibility.
SHARING OF COSTS
In consideration of the factors mentioned above and the Federal Water Pollution Control Act Amendment of 1972, assignment of 75 percent of costs as nonreimbursable is deemed equitable, with the States of the Colorado River Basin responsible for repayment of the remaining 25 percent of project costs.
The Colorado River Basin States conducted extensive discussions among themselves concerning appropriate division of the Basin States' share of costs between the upper and lower basins. After considering
all factors, the States agreed upon the division of costs stated in H.R. 12165 for the four projects to be authorized by that bill.
This negotiated agreement calls on the Secretary to set the cost allocations following analysis of the authorized salinity control projects that consider benefits to each basin, causes of salinity and availability of revenues in the respective basin funds. The Secretary's allocation to the Upper Basin States is not to exceed 15 percent of the total cost of each unit allocated to the Basin States.
REPAYMENT OF ALLOCATED COSTS
Natural causes produce most of the salts in the basin. People have been using Colorado River water and causing salinity increases ever since the west was settled over 120 years ago. Now, there are thousands of farmers and businesses, scores of divisions out of the basin, hundreds of villages, towns, and cities that use Colorado River system water and thereby cause incremental salinity increases. All of these interests could be held responsible for a share of the allocated costs of salinity control, as could those millions of persons who will benefit from control of salinity.
Fortunately, mechanisms are in hand that enable the costs allocated to the basin Štates to be collected in an equitable manner and repaid to the general fund of the treasury without having to develop the complex administrative machinery required to collect charges from each beneficiary within the Colorado River Basin. These mechanisms are the Upper Colorado River Basin Fund and the Lower Colorado River Basin Development Fund.
The revenues to these funds originate from power sales. The power generated is incidential to control and operation of the Colorado River for purposes of maximizing beneficial use of the river's water. Entities purchasing the power pass on to their customers the costs thereof. Thus, through the development funds, the power users, who are generally also those who benefit from the use of Colorado River water would repay the allocated costs of salinity control.
In order to obtain the revenues necessary to repay the general fund of the treasury, the electric power rates will have to be raised slightly in the case of the Upper Colorado River Basin Fund.
The Lower Colorado River Basin Development Fund was established by the Colorado River Basin Project Act of 1968 for the purpose of repaying the costs of any project that may be built to augment the flow of the Colorado River. The problems of the river's salinity are so pressing that the Lower Basin States have concluded that a portion of the power revenues accruing to this fund should be used for repaying allocated costs of salinity control. Again, the power and thereby water) users of the lower basin will be paying charges into the fund that will be directly used to repay the general fund of the treasury.
CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS
The Colorado River, the primary source of water for major portions of seven States and Mexico, has experienced and will continue to experience increases in salinity which adversely affect its water users. In recently negotiated minute 242, the Federal Government agreed to limit the difference in salinity between Imperial Dam and the northerly international boundary as a permanent and definitive solution to the salinity problems with Mexico. Ambassador Brownell in his report of December 28, 1972, to the President recommended “Timely decisions in regard to implementation of specific actions to control salinity increases in the Colorado River Basin.” Without the control of upstream salinity, the United States will be faced with a new salinity problem with Mexico as salinity levels increase with continued development; and water users in the United States will suffer significant economic impacts, with impacts estimated to reach $80 million annually by the year 2000.
The seven Colorado River Basin States, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the Department of the Interior have agreed on the long range salinity objective for the Colorado River of maintaining the salinity of the lower mainstem at or below present levels while the Basin States continue to develop their compact apportioned waters; and on the short-range goal, within this objective, of removing 400,000 tons of salt annually from the river system.
The proposed legislation, H.R. 12165, the “Colorado River Basin Salinity Control Act of 1974,” which you have under consideration, meets this goal and will assist in achieving a permanent solution to the controversy with Mexico over the salinity of the Colorado River.
Accordingly, it is strongly recommended that H.R. 12165, the "Colorado River Basin Salinity Control Act of 1974," be enacted. The committee has had an opportunity to study H.R. 12165 for several weeks now and discuss it with people within our States and within the basin and we have these suggested amendments.
Number 1, on page 3, between lines 14 and 15, add:
Section 101(b) (3). The Secretary is authorized to conduct a saline water research and development program
Mr. DELLENBACK. Mr. Chairman, excuse my interruption, but would it not be well at this stage rather than to deal with the technicalities of these amendments which really requires pulling out of the bill and looking at comparative language, I think the basic points have been covered and may I suggest to the witness that perhaps we can read those specific amendments at the time we deal with the bill. I think the points are made and I would merely suggest that so we might still have some time for the questioning before the noon hour.
Mr. JOHNSON. I want to say that the staff has had these amendments and has made a very careful study of them as they relate to the bill. Our staff will be in position to offer suggestions as to these amendments at the mark-up. I agree with you that the time probably would be better spent in questioning the witness, considering the limited amount of time we have. So if you will just put a handle on these amendments quickly, say how many you have here. I think you have them all numbered. There are 14 amendments that you have made available to the committee. The committee staff has been working on them and we will go into a detailed study of them with many people. So I would say that the gentleman from Oregon raises a very good question at this time.
Mr. STEINER. That is fine, Mr. Chairman.