Final Environmental Assessment
This final Environmental Assessment (EA) analyzes the potential effects of the Lone Pine Canal Salinity Control Project, located in Cortez, Colorado. The federal action being evaluated is whether the Bureau of Reclamation (Reclamation) should authorize the use of federal funds for the salinity control project on approximately 5.9 miles of the Lone Pine Canal.
The Colorado River provides water for more than 23 million people and irrigation for more than 4 million acres of land in the U.S., as well as water for about 2.3 million people and 500,000 irrigated acres in the Republic of Mexico. High salinity levels have adverse consequences for water users throughout the U.S. and Mexico. High salinity levels make it difficult to grow winter vegetables and fruits. In water systems, salt plugs and destroys municipal and household pipes and fixtures. Recent salinity concentrations in the lower portion of the Colorado River are typically 700mg/L, but in the future may range between 600 and 1,200 mg/L depending upon the amount of water in the river system. Salinity damages from the Colorado River Basin in the U.S. range between $500 million to $750 million per year and could exceed $1.5 million per year if future increases in salinity are not controlled.
The primary challenge to controlling salinity levels in the Colorado River is the high number of open channel irrigation canals located throughout the West. Open channel canals are one of the largest annual contributors of salt to the Colorado River. Water that seeps through these canals dissolves salt in the soils and through return flows eventually carries the salts to the Colorado River.
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