Recognizing the rapidly increasing salinity concentration in the Lower Colorado River and its impact on water users, the Colorado River Basin States came together in 1973 and organized the Colorado River Basin Salinity Control Forum (Forum). In 1974, in coordination with the Department of the Interior and the U.S. State Department, the Forum worked with Congress in the passage of the Colorado River Basin Salinity Control Act (Act). Title I of the Act deals with the United States’ salinity commitments to Mexico. Title II of the Act creates the Colorado River Basin Salinity Control Program (Program) which focuses on improving the water quality of the Colorado River to U.S. users above Imperial Dam.
Since implementation of the Program, measures have been put in place which now control more than 1.2 million tons of salt annually. The salinity concentration at Imperial Dam has been reduced by about 90 mg/L. However, quantifiable damages to U.S. users presently are approximately $376 million per year. Damages are projected to increase to $577 million per year if the Program does not continue to be aggressively implemented.