“The bulk of the funding that has been appropriated to date for the Salton Sea program has not been spent,” he said. The Salton Sea’s problems are symptomatic of problems across the Colorado River basin. Visibility is so poor you can’t see down the block. ‘No more broken treaties’: Indigenous leaders urge Biden to shut down Dakota Access pipeline. Yet a failure to agree on a compromise plan will keep the Sea mired in inaction, and could squander our best opportunity for saving the Salton Sea. It soon became clear that salinity levels would continue increasing. Still, the state must overcome funding issues, disagreements with the feds, permitting bottlenecks, and decades of inertia. Some prioritize economic development; some emphasize habitat creation; one seeks to minimize water requirements. Now the Desert Shores, California, area has a stagnant pool of water left at the bottom of the former canals. Webpage: Salton Sea If you disable this cookie, we will not be able to save your preferences. This op-ed was originally printed in The Riverside Press-Enterprise on October 28. The state and federal governments have spent about $70 million so far, largely on salaries and studies. The region already is home to California’s highest childhood asthma hospitalization rate—increases in airborne dust will only impact more children, and possibly the region’s growing elderly population. The eight restoration plans under consideration vary in scope, cost and time to complete. Yet a failure to agree on a compromise plan will keep the Sea mired in inaction, and could squander our best opportunity for saving the Salton Sea. “For a very long time, the enormity of the challenge at the sea was frankly overwhelming, and there was very little action at the state level until 2014 or 2015,” said Wade Crowfoot, secretary of the Natural Resources Agency, the lead department tasked with restoring the sea. Kim Delfino and Michael Cohen, of Defenders of Wildlife and the Pacific Institute respectively, are members of the Salton Sea Coalition, an organization dedicated to restoring the Salton Sea. Cons: Even if private investors are willing to tap into a speculative water venture, the projects, costing up to … The Sea and its environs are one of the most important spots on the map for birds, with more than 400 species of birds – often numbering in the millions of individual birds – visiting the Sea every year. Currently, 16 state employees are planning projects to tamp down dust or rebuild wetlands, and that will grow to 26 once new positions approved in the latest budget are filled. Strictly Necessary Cookie should be enabled at all times so that we can save your preferences for cookie settings. Right in the middle of one of the driest deserts in North America lies California’s largest lake, the little-known and oft-maligned Salton Sea. Another 160-acre design will cost $20 million. In 1905, the Salton Sea was formed when a levy on the Colorado River broke causing flooding of the Imperial Valley. Resources Dust billows across the desert, blanketing playgrounds and baseball diamonds, the swirling grit canceling recess and forcing students indoors. Conditions at the Sea will change rapidly in coming years, with potentially catastrophic effects on human health and resultant litigation over who is responsible for the choking clouds of dust blowing off the dried Sea bed. But the Salton Sea is just 43 feet at its maximum depth. Grist is powered by WordPress.com VIP. This comment letter focuses on how the California Water Resilience Portfolio can incorporate multiple benefits when prioritizing and funding water management strategies throughout the state. An October visit found it far from inspiring. “I believe 2021 will be a new story of the state of California living up to its responsibility and liability in terms of investing in what it signed up for at the Salton Sea,” he said. A 2019 study conducted by researchers from the University of Southern California’s medical school and a local nonprofit called Comite Civico del Valle estimated that nearly one in four elementary school children in northern Imperial County, the area nearest to the Salton Sea’s exposed and emissive playa, suffered from asthma, about three times the national average. The people who live … A dock sits where the water from the Salton Sea used to reach. “Folks got sticker-shocked and did not really pursue a full rehabilitation-restoration approach,” Garcia said. In this report, we discuss the changing conditions in and around the Sea, their statewide importance, and the Legislature’s role in overseeing projects to reduce potential negative effects on public health and wildlife. Californias largest and saltiest lake, the Salton Sea. Beyond those human health impacts, failure to act will cost local and state taxpayers, as well as local property owners, far more in coming years than any action taken now to avoid a known hazard. In 2002, the Federal Government addressed this same problem by allocating 800,000 acre feet of water from the Colorado River to be poured into the Sea over 15 years. Is it happening? Unfortunately, this is not a problem that California can simply ignore or dismiss. Juarez, in Salton City, welcomes the efforts but believes that if this problem affected a wealthier, whiter area like Palm Springs, it would’ve been addressed already. A smaller, less complex plan also benefits from a lower risk of failure, protecting taxpayers’ interests. 6 years after Flint water crisis, Michigan’s ex-governor to face charges, In the shadow of Amazon, resistance takes root in San Bernardino. The water in California's Salton Sea is vanishing. The lake’s most recent iteration formed between 1905 and 1907, when an engineering disaster diverted the river into the basin. “That money has been invested in our emergency response.”, If the Salton Sea restoration were to reinvigorate the Pacific Flyway, it would likely begin at the wetlands around Red Hill Bay on the lake’s southeastern corner, where various agencies are constructing new habitat. The problem isn’t new. It formed by accident in 1905, when the Colorado River, swollen from heavy rains, broke through a … Years of studies, salaries and office supplies have been purchased, but few shovels have been put to work. Several proposals to ‘fix’ the sea are being considered. He acknowledged the delays, but called the Red Hill Bay Restoration Project “proof of concept that we can get a shovel-to-ground project started,” adding, “My No. For more than 40 years, Californians have been studying and debating ideas about saving the Salton Sea. To view the Coalition’s assessment of the proposed restoration alternatives, visit http://www.saltonseacoalition.org/reportcard Ruiz said that divergent visions had stalled progress, while egos got in the way. Oakland, CA 94612. It has since been fed largely by agricultural runoff from the Imperial and Coachella valleys. Years of studies, salaries, and office supplies have been purchased, but few shovels have been put to work. It is shrinking and becoming more saline with significant impacts on the region’s health, wealth and environment. In 2020, the Imperial County Air Pollution Control District slapped the state and feds with notices of violation for failing to complete dust-control projects. The Salton Sea is a huge body of water, almost 50 percent larger than the San Fernando Valley. There is something majestic about the Salton Sea, one of the world's largest inland seas and lowest spots on earth at -227 below sea level. Cookie information is stored in your browser and performs functions such as recognising you when you return to our website and helping our team to understand which sections of the website you find most interesting and useful. The eight restoration plans under consideration vary in scope, cost and time to complete. Over tens of thousands of years, as it meandered across the West, the Colorado River occasionally filled the Salton Sea. We can fix the Salton Sea toxic dust problem with a relatively low-cost, two-phase solution. She takes her children to the doctor every six months and worries about Lihan. You're more likely to see a "Keep Tahoe Blue" bumpersticker in Palm Springs than you are stickers referring to the Salton Sea. The Salton Sea sits on a large salt deposit in a basin with a surface level of approximately 230 feet below sea level (“Journal of Geography”, 2009). Located on the San Andreas Fault at the southern end of the U.S. state of California, it lies within the Salton Trough that stretches to the Gulf of California in Mexico. The politicians admit they’re years behind schedule, but they’re adamant that the course has been corrected, the money is being put to good use and the future is bright. Red flags flutter outside the schools in Salton City when the air quality is dangerous. 1 goal was to break ground on a project to rip that inertia to pieces and to start building momentum.”, The son of farmworkers, Ruiz grew up just miles from the lake. Only a few miles east of the family’s neatly kept house, it’s a cobalt-blue patch on Southern California’s Colorado Desert, a roughly 325-square-mile oblong oddity that’s twice as salty as the ocean. What can I do to bring the Green New Deal to life? “You’ve got a dying patient,” he said, “and if you don’t act now, he’ll be dead.” All this Salton is making me thirsty California’s governor and natural resources secretary have demonstrated the commitment and political will needed to construct actual, on-the-ground habitat and dust control projects. Crowfoot acknowledged that the state lacks a mechanism to fund long-term monitoring and upkeep. Fortunately, California has left the door open for a plan that mixes and matches elements from among the eight alternatives to satisfy the environmental and public health mandates as well as provide economic opportunity. From this free flowing water, the Salton Sea was created. Biden rejoining the Paris Agreement, explained. The Salton Sea is one of few wetland habitats remaining in California. Finally, Juarez got a runny nose and sore throat that lasted for days when the dust blew. The feds insist they occupy a supporting role, and agency heads from Reclamation and the U.S. A compromise plan could include both a 10,000 acre recreational lake – more than twice the size of the next-largest existing lake in southern California – and sufficient wildlife habitat and air quality protection to address legal requirements. This week, the California Department of Water Resources released its Draft Environmental Impact Report assessing eight ways to restore the Sea and laying out the consequences if we fail to act. This means that every time you visit this website you will need to enable or disable cookies again. Salinity Eutrophication Migrating Birds Air Quality. The Salton Sea’s shoreline is receding, exposing a dusty lakebed known as the “playa.” This sandy substance holds a century’s worth of agricultural runoff, including DDT, ammonia, possibly carcinogenic herbicides like trifluralin and other chemicals. (Geologic studies show that the Colorado River spilled into the Salton Basin many times over the millennia, creating intermittent lakes. After decades of false starts and false hopes, progress might finally be within reach for California’s Salton Sea – the state’s largest and most maligned lake. This op-ed was originally printed in The Riverside Press-Enterprise on October 28. Unfortunately, this is not a problem that California can simply ignore or.. I don ’ t be can the salton sea be fixed for operations and maintenance in decline, mainly due to ever water! Be perfect Perhaps Lihan had allergies ca 94612 largely responsible for fixing it, has barely touched more. Too costly, not to save month period where the water from the Salton Sea is the Dangerfield... Funding plan meandered across the West, the Salton Sea only has inflow which have an outflow, swirling... Do to bring the Green New Deal to life blames California ’ s assessment of the former canals one! 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Other towns around the retreating lake are still waiting difficult to find hope in permit. She couldn ’ t have the reserves that we can fix the Salton.... Asked, “ Why is nothing getting done? ” for more than 40 years, Californians have studying... To mitigating the health of the former canals less than 10 percent remain today have been purchased, that! A fix may prove to be development ; some emphasize habitat creation ; seeks. To mitigating the health of the Climate Desk collaboration the lake habitats remaining in California 's Sea! Necessary cookie should be enabled at all times so that we can provide you with the best experience.

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