January 2022 White Paper
Global Water Farms Inc.
The US southwest needs “new” water because all of the west’s existing water has already been allocated. Even in “good water” years, the Colorado River cannot supply the demand on its waters. At the end of its journey from the Rocky Mountains, the Colorado River is a trickle when and if it gets to Mexico and the Sea of Cortez. There is an ongoing mega drought exacerbated by climate change and the “actions” being taken are the equivalent of rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic. In the simplest terms – we are in crisis.
The lack of water in the western US is an issue affecting everyone in both red and blue leaning states – fostering more uncertainty in already troubled times. By leveraging water as a “common cause” across all layers of society, we have the best chance we have ever had to fix this problem. Creating “new” water will lead to unimagined growth and opportunity for America and it will cement her place as the leader of mankind’s transition to healing the Earth and assuring its future.
A lack of action will lead to a massive migration of Americans as people leave the Southwestern US. The effect on the economy will be cataclysmic. The last census showed the first ever migration out of California. The main reasons for the exodus are falling economic prospects in agriculture, industry and development. The people who have decided to leave the southwest are the raindrops, a deluge awaits us if we fail to act.
As of the writing of this paper, Glen Canyon Dam is at 27% capacity and just 35ft above the level at which Lake Powell has enough water to generate electricity. The Hoover Dam and Lake Mead are in similarly dire straits at just 34% capacity and 15ft above the point where older generators will stop working. Losing hydropower from these dams means 6.5 million people in Arizona, Nevada, and California will be without electricity.
Because of the magnitude of the drought, it is no longer possible to alleviate water shortages by implementing individual small-scale solutions that only deal with “symptoms” – these are band-aid solutions. What is needed is an additional two million acre feet of water a year. We believe a comprehensive solution that addresses stakeholders’ concerns is possible and we think the looming crisis is the best opportunity our country has ever been given to start America’s next great mission.
The US needs to develop a “New Water Strategy” and grow a new water supply that is on par with the effort required to build the interstate highway system, to win the space race, for victory in World War Two, to dominate the industrial revolution and then the digital revolution. This is the next great challenge, and it can unite all Americans in a great quest to build a sustainable model that teaches the world how to develop the infrastructure of tomorrow.
The West needs a massive infusion of “new” water. Every drop of water that is available in the western United States is already allocated and Americans have been fighting over it for more than one hundred years. We have channeled it, conserved it, reused it, and now, we need to farm and cultivate it on a scale that will deliver the exact type of water needed to every user. A “new” freshwater source sustainably produced with renewable energy and supplied by the Earth’s most abundant resource, ocean water.
The development of “new” water can now be achieved without a huge reliance on carbon based energy and without harmful effluents that discharge back into our rivers and oceans. Solar thermal powered desalination with Zero Liquid Discharge will create “green” industries that will further reduce emissions by replacing a large portion of the concrete in our construction industry with a salt- based product. The development of large scale distilled water resources is also the foundation of manufacturing in the electronics, pharmaceutical and food industries.
GWF wants to share our concept for a plan with a built-in delivery system that can produce “new” distilled water for the American Southwest. Our site is on the east side of the Salton Sea, adjacent to the Coachella Canal which can connect and deliver our “new” water to coastal city water users. In fact, the adoption of this plan will put in motion the solution to one of the largest under-addressed environmental disasters in our country at the Salton Sea. Our concept transforms the shrinking Salton Sea from a Superfund disaster into a sustainable ocean water resource that is constantly recharged with fresh seawater. This inland reservoir will be vibrant, stable and constantly renewed by importing seawater from the Sea of Cortez to the Salton Sea. Global Water Farms will withdraw a balanced volume of salt water from the Salton Sea, desalinate it and deliver the water into the Coachella Canal for transit to coastal Southern California.
GWF is creating distilled water which will automatically “sweeten” or improve the quality of any water with which it’s mixed. This will allow water managers to blend water specifically tailored for consumers, industry, and agriculture. High salinity water will cease to be a concern for farmers who have had to fallow hundreds of thousands of acres of farmland in the Central and Imperial valleys.
Water agencies serving Southern California will be able to blend water that meets EPA drinking water standards – unattainable now because river water is currently flowing at twice the 500ppm TDS limit. Sustainable long term sources of “new” ultra-pure (distilled) water will attract high tech companies dependent on that water for their manufacturing processes and cooling requirements.
There are a unique set of circumstances at this moment in time; the mega drought, the Salton Sea environmental disaster, the renewal of the Colorado River Compact and a paramount need to reunite our people with common purpose.
These circumstances have spotlighted a nexus of opportunity in a location that could not be better suited to the task. The Salton Sea is -223ft below sea level when full to its optimum level. The Sea of Cortez/Gulf of California is around 100 miles from the Salton Sea. A pipeline will bring salt water to the Salton Sea making it a reservoir. GWF desalination will convert the salt water to distilled water. A series of canals exist that will link the Salton Sea, to the Colorado River Aqueduct and southern California cities. There is enough vertical drop from the Sea of Cortez to the Salton Sea to allow for the generation of hydroelectric power for the area.
The effect of “new” water produced in the Salton Sea Basin will be felt by cities as far away as Denver, Reno, Sacramento, Phoenix, Tucson, Las Vegas, and St. George. Water produced by this project can be traded for upstream water in the Colorado, or water in the Truckee, Sacramento, or other rivers of the west. This will allow water managers to shift the burden of water infrastructure development to its rightful end user. For example, when a developer in Tucson wants to build a new development, he can execute a water purchase agreement to make water at the Salton Sea. That water is delivered to LA and LA will then release a like amount of its river water into the Arizona Project to deliver for the development. The use of water purchase agreements will allow the construction price tag to shift from government to Public/Private Partnerships.
Mexico will become a true partner in a plan that would finally assure the availability of an unlimited supply of water to a parched impoverished area of their country that has all the agricultural potential of the Coachella and Imperial Valleys. Mexico has long been promised their fair share of the waters of the Colorado River, but the promise has not always been kept and Mexico harbors suspicions that should American cities run short of water, Mexican cities will suffer. Mexico will be the source of the ocean water for the project which will make them a full partner at the table, and it will ensure that they receive a share of both the “new” water and a share of the Colorado River that they can count on forever. In fact, the most logical evolution of this project will be the development of an economic free trade zone that straddles the border and removes national barriers on business within the zone. This zone would attract immense investment in the area to the benefit of both countries.
The spinoff technologies of the project will create new industries and create new jobs that will benefit the environment. Our inert salt waste stream will supply the raw materials for hydraulically compacted construction blocks that will replace cement cinderblocks. They will be stronger, faster to build with, and will create carbon credits instead of carbon emissions. Power produced by our CSP/TES solar thermal storage systems will power our water farms but can also be designed to provide an integrated solution that could deliver water and electricity to individual communities.
The Salton Sea sits atop one of the largest single deposits of Lithium on Earth. It is estimated to hold nearly ~40% of the world’s reserves. GWF’s technology will be used to extract Lithium from dissolved deposits. Lithium is the single most critical component of the coming electric powered conversion of our transportation fleet. The Lithium is in a dissolved state in an aquifer ~8000 feet below the surface. It can be separated from the brine water using the same desalination process as water from the reservoir.
Aquifer recharge can be balanced by injecting seawater at the south end of the aquifer while removing brine from the north end so that the lithium concentration is not diluted by reinjecting water that has been mined for the Lithium. In fact, the brine water will be distilled and used to supply the needs of the American Southwest.
The planning and implementation of this project will require the balancing of many organizations, agencies, and people. It is important to note that these are groups that are currently competing for a share of a shrinking pool of water. They are people that want more control of their futures. They are people who want to protect their own positions or jobs. Some are people who oppose change or are unable to comprehend the magnitude of the water crisis. In short, they are America. They will each have a me-me point of view, and this is the lever point that must be considered and even enhanced by the project. Let’s consider everybody’s wish list and look at how to fulfill it, we need to make each competing interest a willing partner.
Inland cities need a source of water for their own development. The project will bring them to the table by creating a path that would allow them to access more of the water they have in their region instead of losing it to fulfil a water right held somewhere else.
Environmentalists and local stakeholders need to bring their concerns to the table now to discuss how solving one issue may lead to new insights and opportunities to solve others.
A comprehensive plan will be in place that will encourage the water agencies to develop an integrated joint operating agreement that will redefine their relationship and will benefit all the parties.
Irrigation districts will grow into even more complex water managers as they learn how to deliver a new product to the farmers they serve, a water that is blended to enhance the health of the soil and the crops that they grow. It will come at a cost but the long-term benefit will justify the additional expense.
Government agencies will be asked to manage a more complex water storage system that will be able to withstand a much higher level of stress to the system, but which will also redefine the exercise of the authority of these agencies.
The leadership of the southwest states must coordinate and align stakeholders, as well as set policy. This leadership is needed before lower-level bureaucrats tie a commonsense solution into a Gordian Knot. At a time when the country desperately needs speed to market and bold vision, agency politics should facilitate and not hinder this crucial endeavor.
We believe that a coalition of western Senators and Governors must create a wave of urgency that will displace timidity and inaction as well as foster a movement towards a sustainable water future.
Most of the funding can and should be provided by private capital and not by the government. The role of government should be the development of a framework for the project and the removal of any roadblocks that will slow it down.
If the country started to build this project tomorrow, it would take 4-6 years to come on-line and begin to have an effect on the supply of water.
We are almost out of time; we must act now. Some people will consider this a Chicken Little message and say that the sky is not falling. They should note that the rain and snow are not falling either.