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Benefits of reducing salinity


Southern California is especially vulnerable to this significant and under-recognized water quality issue. Although natural processes account for much of the salinity in water, salts are continuously being added to surface water and groundwater by agriculture, livestock feeding, household wastewater, industrial and commercial operations, and water recycling.

Salinity affects all water users, water utility facilities, and water distribution systems. By reducing water supply salinity, Southern California water infrastructure suffers less damage, and keeps water less expensive for consumers.


Reducing the salinity of imported water by 100 milligrams per liter (mg/L) results in an economic benefit of $95 million per year. The same salinity reduction in our groundwater creates a $65 million/year economic benefit.

Reducing water supply salinity is beneficial because water salinity has a huge impact on the Southern California economy. The US Bureau of Reclamation and the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California have developed a Salinity Economic Impact Model (SEIM), which estimates damages caused by salinity in the Colorado River. The SEIM estimated that every 100 milligrams per liter of increased salinity in the Colorado river costs the Southern California economy $150M. A UC Davis study suggests that the Central Valley will incur economic impacts of $3B per year due to the annual accumulation of about 7 million tons of salt.

What are those economic benefits?

  • Millions of dollars of reduced damage to pipes, faucets, and appliances.

  • Increased crop yields.

  • Decreased brine disposal costs.

  • Reduced salt buildup in groundwater.

  • Better taste, odor, and color in drinking water.

And, ultimately--lower costs for water utilities and their customers (you!).

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