The Colorado River Basin Salinity Control Program (Program) is a cooperative, basin-wide effort between several federal agencies and the seven Basin states designated to meet national, international and state water quality objectives. Impacts of increased salinity levels in the Colorado River have long been of concern in both the United States and Mexico, resulting in economic damages to agricultural, municipal and industrial water users. Agricultural users suffer reduced crop yields and incur higher labor costs for irrigation management, chemical treatment, and increased drainage requirements. Urban users often see a reduced serviceable lifespan of their plumbing and water-using appliances. Similarly, industrial water users and water treatment facilities experience reductions in the useful life of system facilities and equipment. Economic damages in the United States are estimated at millions of dollars per year, and those damages in Mexico, although unquantified, remain a significant concern.
Through its Salinity Control Forum, the Program developed salinity standards throughout the Lower Basin as well as a basin-wide plan of implementation. Approved by the EPA and adopted by the Colorado River basin states, these standards establish a flow-weighted average annual salinity threshold that must be maintained on the lower Colorado River at three locations: Below Hoover Dam (to Parker Dam); below Parker Dam (to Imperial Dam); and at Imperial Dam. Implementation of the salinity control plan has ensured compliance with these standards, while the Basin states continue to develop their respective Colorado River Compact water allocations. For more information regarding salinity control, visit the United States Bureau of Reclamation and Colorado River Basin Salinity Control Forum websites.