The Potash evaporation ponds are the striking blue dots in the middle of a red desert landscape. Such a contrast creates an odd scene but attracts lots of people interested in a peak.
These ponds are managed by Intrepid Potash Inc., the largest producer of potassium chloride in the U.S. They cover a territory of 1.5 square kilometres along the Colorado River, 30 km west of Moab. The ponds are lined with rubber to keep the salts in. The bright blue colour you may see is the result of adding an artificial dye, which protects them from the absorption of sunlight and evaporation. As the sun evaporates the water in the pond, the crystals of potassium and salt remain. The process of evaporation takes about 300 days, and each day these ponds produce between 700 and 1,000 tons of potash.
The potash source is located at a depth of 914 metres under the 300 million-year-old Paradox Basin. To extract the potassium from there, special wells are drilled, and hot water is pumped to dissolve the potassium. Such solar salt water ponds can be used as a source of solar thermal energy for power generation, desalination, and process heating.
Potash Evaporation Ponds are there all year round but evaporation is the most intense in the summer (May to September), so you can see how this natural lab works by yourself.