The Little Pacific Project


Escalante-Class Member
And how would they dispose of the residual material that is left after desalination?

In coastal installations, it's reintroduced to the sea, but inland locations present what is essentially a hazmat problem. One might expect huge environmental objections.
Exactly. Along those lines, any location near the head of Lake Mead where brine from treated sea water might be disposed will inevitably end up back in Lake Mead. All it takes is a storm, since runoff flows downhill. And with a salty Lake Mead, that has enormous negative implications for downstream habitat, agriculture and municipal water use.

I like out of the box thinking as much as anyone, but a much more feasible (but still extremely challenging) approach that would do less damage might be to have CA stop using its share of Colorado River water in exchange for the other states in the system paying for sufficient coastal desalination plants to create a new water supply for the benefit of CA. One (of many) tricky aspects of this would be getting some of that water to the primary agricultural beneficiaries in the Imperial Valley far from the coast.

But at least with this kind of approach, you'd preserve more Colorado River water in the two big reservoirs, would avoid building an interstate pipeline subject to a variety of hazards and logistical difficulties, and avoid potential saltwater contamination of Lake Mead.


Active Member
Another thought.

One might also consider evaporative losses, as the expensively moved water sits in one of the hottest spots in the country waiting for further transport.
Last edited:

The Oracle

Active Member
The lack of viability of such a project dictates it will NEVER HAPPEN! These kinds of proposals all come to a dead stop once the scientists and engineers educate the ignorant public, whom then decend upon the "dreamer" politicians en masse. Would be more viable to pump desalinated water from the sea shore than raw water, thus potentially allowing more water to reach the Great Salt Lake of its own accord. Yeah, right, like we'd then start conserving?!?!?!


Active Member
The lack of viability of such a project dictates it will NEVER HAPPEN! These kinds of proposals all come to a dead stop once the scientists and engineers educate the ignorant public, whom then decend upon the "dreamer" politicians en masse.
Well they got a start on the high speed rail? DeSal plants on the coast are a good start. Other than that I think upstream users should just let Calif. wallow in the misery of their own creation.


Active Member
I assume it to be satire. The idea of using prison labor that is then released has all the signs of an emotional trigger for both sides of the political spectrum. I am surprised he did use migrants caught attempting to cross the boarder in exchange for citizenship.

Conceptually it is interesting. The discharge from a desalination plan is ecologically troubling until it is diluted, but it is not really HazMat. In theory you could remove the salt using evaporation and sell it commercially. Salt is recovered this way in many desert areas. The space needed to do so will be huge and the process is not very efficient even if you used solar power to preheat the brine.

Ultimately, I agree that the Little Pacific Project will quickly be proven impractical (if it was even a serious proposal to begin with). But considering that the long term alternative is a mass migration out of AZ, NV, southern UT and most of So Cal, we might find the impractical bar to be much higher than expected.

Unless there is a change in weather patterns over the next several years, areas that depend on the Colorado or are pulling water from underground aquifers that are being depleted, could find gasoline prices cheap compared to the per gallon cost of tap water.


Well-Known Member
This is new to me.

it's nuts. "Hey, let's create another toxic waste dump!"

why build a huge pipeline and import salt water and dump it in a lake and then build yet another long pipeline to move the fresh water when you can just build one pipeline and move fresh water from a coastal desalt plant? the less volume moved is less energy to pump.


Active Member
I can't believe that any hypothetical desalination plan will ever help the Colorado river. Instead, desalinated water would go directly to your local drinking water treatment facilities. Even that idea is little more than science fiction right now. Until water shortages become painful at the tap, there will never be enough political or economic willingness to take on something like that.

Speaking of science fiction, pipeline options to increase levels at Powell and Mead would have to involve untreated water (other than silt removal) from the Missouri, Mississippi, or Texas Gulf coast watersheds. T. Boone Pickens couldn't overcome the politics of moving water within Texas. Imagine the uproar caused by taking water from Texas that may benefit California or Arizona residents. I also suspect the invasive species issues would make the quagga mussel problem look like the good ole days. It is fun to think about and design on a napkin but not very likely to become reality.

While hope is not a strategy, it is the the most likely salvation for Powell and Mead. Namely a return to pre-1990 normal or above normal rainfall and snowpack.