Meetings on reducing salt in Colorado, Dolores rivers set

colorado river from fisher towers
The Colorado River meanders through Professor Valley in this image taken from Fisher Towers. Photo by Doug McMurdo

The Bureau of Reclamation seeks public input on alternatives to reduce salinity in the Colorado River from sources in the Paradox Valley in western Colorado. Currently, the Paradox Valley Unit in Montrose County, Colorado, is intercepting naturally occurring brine and injecting it 16,000 feet underground via a deep injection well.

The unit began operating in 1996 and is nearing the end of its useful life. The United States has a water quality obligation to control salt in the Colorado River, in compliance with the Colorado River Basin Salinity Control Act, the Clean Water Act, and a 1944 treaty with Mexico.

“The Paradox Valley Unit is a cost-effective salinity control project in the Colorado River Basin as it prevents 95,000 tons of salt annually from reaching the Dolores River and eventually the Colorado River. That’s approximately 7 percent of total salinity control occurring in the basin,” said Ed Warner, manager for the Reclamation department’s Western Colorado area office. “Reducing salt in the rivers improves water quality, crop production and wildlife habitat in the basin.”

The Reclamation agency is preparing an environmental impact statement and has released a draft for public review and comment. Alternatives analyzed in the draft EIS include a new injection well, evaporation ponds, zero liquid discharge technology, and no action, which would result in no salinity control in the Paradox Valley.

The public is invited to attend public meetings to learn more, ask questions and provide comments. Two public meetings will be held. The first is at 5 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 14, in Paradox, at the Paradox Valley Charter School, 21501 6 Mile Road. The second meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 15 in Montrose at the Holiday Inn Express & Suites, 1391 S. Townsend Ave.

The draft EIS is available online, or a copy can be requested by contacting the Reclamation agency.

The department will consider all comments received by 11:59 p.m. on Feb. 4. Those interested can submit comments by email to [email protected] or to Ed Warner, area manager, Bureau of Reclamation, 445 West Gunnison Ave, Suite 221, Grand Junction, CO, 81501.