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Hell’s Kitchen Lithium Production & Clean Power Project

Hell's Kitchen Lithium Production & Clean Power Project

Salton Sea, CA

Great Ecology is providing a broad suite of environmental consulting services for CTR. The integrated lithium extraction and geothermal power project is based in Imperial County, CA, adjacent to the Salton Sea. It is planned to include a clean lithium production facility and a renewable geothermal energy plant, ultimately creating hundreds of jobs in Imperial County and deriving a critical component for electric vehicles. The lithium will be extracted with an extremely low carbon footprint, making the project highly sustainable, and bringing the USA closer to energy independence.
The project is initially envisioned in a portion of the Salton Sea that contains wetland resources, and as a result will require an onsite mitigation project. This will convert open desert playa to wetlands that will provide habitat for a broad suite of species, including migratory birds, threatened and endangered species such as Yuma Ridgway's Rail and pupfish.
Great Ecology has provided support to the project for a broad suite of ecological services over the past three years. These services include permitting of wetland impacts, extensive on the ground assessments, drone surveys and reconnaissance, desktop modeling and mapping, data analysis, substantial and significant regulatory documentation, stakeholder outreach, master planning of a future campus, and the design and the implementation of the wetland mitigation project.

Understanding Site History

The Salton Sea is a vast, compelling habitat that was originally created through a breach in a dam, adjacent to the Colorado River, that flooded a low-lying basin over 100 years ago. Today, the area is a robust agricultural valley and an important habitat for migratory birds as they move across the desert habitat of the Pacific Flyway.
About 20 years ago, a significant portion of Colorado River water was diverted to San Diego to provide drinking water, with the result being a dramatic recession of the Salton Sea. This led to both a higher salinity water body and receding shoreline exposing playa dust, creating a human health challenge, and increasing the importance of the ever-reduced wetlands that ring the Salton Sea.  

Transforming Playa to Wetland

CTR, through their Hell's Kitchen Geothermal project, will undertake a landmark mitigation project to turn open desert playa habitat into a thriving wetland ecosystem.
Great Ecology, in collaboration with a robust regulatory community and our client, designed and planned a 160-acre wetland that will be hydrated by water from the Colorado River. This water will move across the system and eventually exit into the Salton Sea, helping to ensure that the sea retains as much of its biological character as possible.
The system itself is planned to have a variety of habitat types including:
  • Cattail Bulrush Marsh
  • Desert Willow Scrub Thickets
  • Sonoran Desert upland
  • Open water
The site will ultimately fit into the existing Imperial Wildlife Area Wister Unit complex – a series of adjacent managed marshes – and provide substantial regional value and ecosystem services to this critical bird and native plant habitat.
Great Ecology’s design includes public access features, based on comments and feedback from stakeholders, that allow for the public to visit the wetlands and learn about the habitat creation process, the local ecology, and the benefits of mitigation.
This project will serve as a cornerstone of the environmental and sustainability commitment that CTR has made to the Imperial Valley.

More than Mitigation

Great Ecology is working with CTR to develop a campus master plan to allow for future additional development in the Lithium Valley, a 50,000-acre region within Imperial County that will have other geothermal and lithium extraction facilities.
In keeping with the theme of sustainability, CTR seeks to continue to be carbon neutral to the extent possible, environmentally sensitive, focused on ESG goals, and in constant collaboration with regulators and stakeholders for all environmental related issues and opportunities.

Developing Sustainable Lithium Production

The Great Ecology team is integrated tightly with CTR to realize the company’s goal of implementing this groundbreaking, sustainable lithium and geothermal energy facility.
We bring considerable knowledge of the region's ecology and recently opened an office in the Imperial Valley. Our local staff are available to support the CTR project, as well as other projects in the region.