Water Quality:

Information on Salinity Control Projects in the Colorado River Basin

RCED-95-58: Published: Mar 29, 1995. Publicly Released: May 1, 1995.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO provided information on salinity control projects in the Colorado River Basin, focusing on: (1) the projects' cost and status; (2) factors considered in selecting salinity control methods; and (3) the Department of the Interior's measures of program effectiveness.

GAO found that: (1) federal agencies spent about $362 million on salinity control projects through September 1994 and plan to spend an additional $430 million on land management activities; (2) the Bureau of Reclamation (BOR) spent about $266 million on salinity control projects, primarily to line irrigation canals to eliminate water seepage; (3) the Bureau of Land Management spent about $7 million on its salinity control projects which concentrated on reducing the erosion of soil that has a high salt content; (4) the Department of Agriculture spent about $89 million to reduce water seepage through more efficient irrigation methods; (5) the key factors in selecting salinity control methods include effectiveness, cost, feasibility, and effect on the environment; (6) salinity levels have been at or below the Environmental Protection Agency's limits; and (7) BOR expects salinity levels to remain within the established limits beyond 2010 with the addition of new salinity control projects.

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