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UCR environmental scientists propose chemical solution to cleaning California's Salton Sea

UC Riverside scientists are able to improve water quality by 90 percent in the rivers flowing into the Salton Sea, the largest lake in California, by using two kinds of water-treatment chemicals that remove phosphorus and silt from the river water.

The researchers investigated the use of alum, a type of salt that has been used to treat phosphorus-rich lakes for decades. They also cleaned water from the rivers flowing into the Salton Sea with polyacrylamide, a new type of polymer used increasingly for reducing sediment loss from agricultural fields.

Results from the study appear in the November/December issue of the Journal of Environmental Quality.

"Removing phosphorus from the inflow reduces algae growth, improves water clarity and decreases the odors common at the lake," said Christopher Amrhein, professor of soil and environmental sciences and the lead author of the paper. "We found that alum and polyacrylamide were highly effective in removing both dissolved phosphorus and suspended sediment in the river waters entering the lake."

Both phosphorus - a fertilizer nutrient that occurs both dissolved in the river water and attached to the sediments suspended in the rivers - and silt contribute to algae growth, odors, low dissolved oxygen and fish-kills in the Salton Sea.

A clean-up of the Salton Sea and consequent development of the surrounding region could help meet the needs of California's growing population, support commercial growth in the neighboring Imperial and Coachella Valleys and achieve high property values in an area that is easily accessible from cities such as Los Angeles, San Diego and Riverside. An improvement of the environmental conditions in the Salton Sea region also could facilitate the region's development as a water-sports recreational area.

Currently, state and federal agencies are working to develop a comprehens
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Source:University of California - Riverside


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