|Aerial view of Yuma Desalting Plant Complex
The Yuma Desalter is an inland brackish water desalting plant
built by the Bureau of Reclamation and funded in and agreement
with regional water wholesalers Metropolitan Water District of
Southern California, The Colorado River Commission of Nevada,
The Southern Nevada Water Authority (servicing Las Vegas
primarily) and The Central Arizona Water Conservation District.
The Colorado River Basin Salinity Control Act (CRBSCA)
authorized the construction of the Yuma Desalting Plant (YDP) in
1974. Construction began in 1989 in Yuma, AZ but was primarily
completed in 1992 to treat saline agricultural return flows from
the Wellton-Mohawk irrigation and drainage districts. The United
States is obligated through Minute 242 (treaty) to control the
salinity of the Colorado River water delivered to Mexico across the
border. The Cienega wetlands are in direct harm from the lack of
Colorado flow, and output from this desalter was proposed to aid
in maintaining this environment. Ironically, even the untreated
brackish water is helping to enhance the Cienega wetlands, and
redirecting that water for other water supplies would pose greater
harm on this crucial biosphere reserve.
In February 2003, Secretary of the Interior Gale Norton appealed
to Congress to bring the YDP to an operational state. A three
month demonstration run occured in 2007 at 10% capacity.
Another test run has been discussed since 2008, but has not