Build Tesla factory at Salton Sea to use lithium from recycled brine


The inland, saline Salton Sea in California is in desperate condition, filled with dead fish and toxins for agricultural runoffs. If Tesla built their planned battery manufacturing gigafactory there, they could extract lithium from the brine to use in the batteries. Plus, they could create much of their own power from wind and solar. The factory would create 6,000 jobs in an area that really needs them. It’s a bit of a longshot as there is plenty of competition from other areas.

Let’s hope it happens. A big manufacturing plant would revitalize the area, create lots of subsidiary businesses, and help efforts to save the Salton Sea.

Beneath California’s dying Salton Sea is gigawatts of geothermal energy

salton sea

The Salton Sea is shrinking, contaminated by agricultural run-off, reeks in the baking summer, and desperately needs help. Geothermal energy could be the answer. The area has a potential 2.9 GW of geothermal energy ready to be harnessed. That’s more power than all but very few large coal and nuclear plants generate. Developing geothermal energy in the Salton Sea area would boost the economy and provide badly needed funds to clean up the sea.

Not only is there more geothermal generating capacity in the Imperial Valley than anywhere else in the U.S., but geothermal energy can be produced with minimal impact on landscape and habitat,” says the Imperial Irrigation District.

New transmission lines would need to be built. Getting siting permits and battling NIMBYs can take years. (The area is so desolate there might hopefully only be a few NIMBYs.) The alternative, letting the sea die, is far worse. If it completely dries then clouds of toxic dust will blow everywhere. Also, it is currently a crucial migratory route for birds.

Geothermal development will fund Salton Sea cleanup. Wow.

Salton Sea fish kill
Salton Sea fish kill

This is welcome news. The Salton Sea in California, a huge, dying, saline lake, will get desperately needed funding from geothermal development to help in its restoration. Imperial County and the Imperial Irrigation District signed the deal, ending ten years of fighting.

The Salton Sea is bizarre. It’s in a baking desert, is a major migratory place for birds, and has enormous fish kills due to agricultural waste flowing into it. If they let it die, it would dry up, then toxic dust would blow everywhere. So, it is in the best interest of all parties to save it. And now, they have a workable plan for doing just that. Excellent.

Salton Sea headed for the dead pool. Literally


Despite numerous plans to save the Salton Sea, lack of money and water may doom this large saline lake in the southern California desert. The Salton Sea rests directly on the San Andreas Fault in a baking desert, is about 15 miles by 35 miles, and reeks in the summer from dead fish. Toxic agricultural runoff is deliberately dumped into the Salton Sea by farmers.

In the eyes of local farmers, the sea is first and foremost a waste dump. It is as vital to their fortunes as good markets and sunshine because its expansive shores swallow tainted water that if left on the fields would eventually saturate the soil with crop-killing minerals.

“The purpose of the sea is to receive agricultural drainage. That’s what it’s there for,” said John Benson, a second-generation farmer who grows lettuce, cotton and cauliflower on 4,000 acres near Brawley.

It is also a major migratory stop for hundreds of species of birds and it it dries up toxic dust will pollute the air for miles around.

Plans to save it make an instructive microcosm of how just how convoluted water negotiations can be.

Current agreement: Farmers are paid to fallow land. Their unused supply is then sent to the San Diego region and to help refill the sea.

Water authority proposal: Money to pay farmers to idle land would be spent on environmental improvement programs at the sea. A lesser amount of water would flow to the sea.

At this point no one knows which plan will be adopted or if it can save the Salton Sea. The problem is, there just isn’t enough money to restore it or available clean water to fill it.

Salton Sea in imminent danger of drying up, becoming toxic waste dump

Salton Sea fish kill
Salton Sea fish kill

The Salton Sea is a large, saline lake in southern California in a baking desert. It is a primary path for migratory birds who eat the fish there. It regularly has fish die-offs and in the summer it reeks. Seriously. It is definitely a weird place.

It was formed in modern times when an aqueduct failed in 1905, flooding the area. Since the water can not drain, the salinity builds up over time. Worse, agricultural runoff and waste from polluted rivers in Mexico flowing into it causes massive fish kills. In summer when temperatures can easily hit 110 F, there can be a major stench.

It is seriously in peril. Water levels are dropping making the water ever more saline. Even tilapia fish will no longer be able to live in it. If water levels recede as predicted it will, in effect, become a toxic waste dump.

While the sea level is dropping, some 25 to 50 square miles of seabed will become immediately exposed. This area, currently underwater, is essentially toxic because of decades of agricultural, commercial and industrial wastewater finding its way into the sea through the Alamo, New and Whitewater rivers. As the exposed sea bottom dries out, winds will carry minute particles of these toxins to the surrounding populations of the Coachella and Imperial valleys as well as to the large population, well over 1 million people, just across the border in Mexico.

There are a number of ways the Salton Sea could be saved. Doing so will require political will and many millions of dollars. Whether this happens is unknown.