Get news from Pacific Institute in your inbox. 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. Now the Desert Shores, California, area has a stagnant pool of water left at the bottom of the former canals. Cleanup along the New River, one of three small waterways flowing into the lake, comes with a $28 million bill. It has since been fed largely by agricultural runoff from the Imperial and Coachella valleys. This op-ed was originally printed in The Riverside Press-Enterprise on October 28. “We don’t have the reserves that we had prior to COVID-19,” Garcia said. Saving the Salton Sea will not be easy, or cheap. “I don’t want to stay here and see my kids sick,” she said. At the beginning of 2020, Gov. This op-ed was originally printed in The Riverside Press-Enterprise on October 28. The plan can be implemented almost immediately with an anticipated long-term solution for the Salton Sea and added benefit to the region in the form of biofuels and feed for cattle. From this free flowing water, the Salton Sea was created. Subscribe to The Beacon to receive daily updates on solutions driving us forward. Dust billows across the desert, blanketing playgrounds and baseball diamonds, the swirling grit canceling recess and forcing students indoors. Since then, millions more people have begun relying on the Colorado River, even as climate change threatens the waterway. 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. No single plan does a very good job of satisfying the primary legal mandate to maximize feasible fish and wildlife habitat while eliminating air quality impacts from the restoration project and protecting water quality. Not surprisingly, the scale and cost of the various restoration plans are also huge and complex. Unfortunately, this is not a problem that California can simply ignore or dismiss. 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. “The bulk of the funding that has been appropriated to date for the Salton Sea program has not been spent,” he said. And the reason: The Salton Sea doesn't conform to what we think Nature ought to be. Within the next 20-30 years, the Sea will be dealt the greatest insult, as the volume of water that sustains this 360-square mile lake will decrease by more than 40 percent, rapidly shrinking the lake and increasing the amount of dust and salt that blows through the Imperial and Coachella valleys. Always free, always fresh, Ask your climate scientist if Grist is right for you. 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. The result of an irrigation accident over 100 years ago, the Salton Sink (below sea level) started filling with water, and having no natural outlet, the water’s getting pretty stagnant, toxic, and just plain yucky. 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. However, after the levy was fixed, there was no longer a flow of water into the lake. The water in California's Salton Sea is vanishing. For a shallow body of water, the Salton Sea holds a large amount of sunk costs. The Salton Sea is one of the world's largest inland seas, once 45 miles long and 25 miles wide. Of course, such compromise will not be perfect. They believe algae, products from which are can produce the raw materials for fuel, can be grown on farmland around the Salton Sea. When the Natural Resources Agency is finally ready for large-scale builds, the budget could get in the way. This means that unlike most lakes which have an outflow, the Salton Sea only has inflow. Resources Since entering Congress in 2013, he has tried to rally local lawmakers and called on the federal government to take a more active role. 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. To view the Coalition’s assessment of the proposed restoration alternatives, visit http://www.saltonseacoalition.org/reportcard. “Frankly, the permitting is probably more expensive right now than the actual projects,” said Tina Shields, water department manager at the Imperial Irrigation District, which, separate from the state, completed about 2,000 acres of dust suppression on its own land around the lake. Californias largest and saltiest lake, the Salton Sea. 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. A dock sits where the water from the Salton Sea used to reach. Of course, such compromise will not be perfect. It’s also toxic — a looming environmental and public health disaster. The Salton Sea is one of few wetland habitats remaining in California. And while California regularly calls on bonds to fund large projects, that money can’t be used for operations and maintenance. The Sea is too important, and ultimately, too costly, not to save. For a shallow body of water, the Salton Sea holds a large amount of sunk costs. The Portfolio was developed in response to Governor Newsom’s Executive Order (N-10-19), which called for a comprehensive strategy to build a climate-resilient water system for the 21st century. But she couldn’t leave her job, harvesting vegetables in the fields that form square oases in the Coachella Valley. The eight restoration plans under consideration vary in scope, cost and time to complete. Yet California, though largely responsible for fixing it, has barely touched the more than 25 square miles of exposed playa. Even if the farmers, environmentalists, tribes, developers, and local communities agreed tomorrow on a compromise plan, it still will be years before construction begins, and many years after that before the project is completed. Meanwhile, the high-water mark has fallen nearly 10 feet, and salinity continues to rise. In some places, you can't see the opposite shore because of the earth's curvature. Run a high-capacity aqueduct inbound from the Gulf of California which lies to the south. Ruiz, who was struck by the high rates of respiratory illnesses in the area, compares the lake to a patient “in need of triage.”. 6 years after Flint water crisis, Michigan’s ex-governor to face charges, In the shadow of Amazon, resistance takes root in San Bernardino. Knowing the lake would recede, the state committed to mitigating the health and environmental impacts. The U.S. Department of Agriculture kicked in about $8 million for dust-suppression projects, and over the past five years, the Bureau of Reclamation spent about $11 million on water-quality monitoring, wetlands projects along polluted rivers that empty into the lake, and studies on the feasibility of using salty water for dust mitigation. Even if the farmers, environmentalists, tribes, developers, and local communities agreed tomorrow on a compromise plan, it still will be years before construction begins, and many years after that before the project is completed. Now the lake gets replenished by irrigation runoff and "municipal and industrial drainage," according to the … 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. Individual construction sites are expensive, with one roughly 4,000-acre project set to break ground in 2021 costing an estimated $200 million. As of late November, state agencies had used about $53 million, most of it going to ledger entries, including “studies and planning activities,” “staffing and other design costs” and “annual surveys to monitor bird and fish populations.” Glaring zeros marked the “expended” column next to several construction budgets. Is it happening? We no longer have the luxury of delay and inaction. It formed by accident in 1905, when the Colorado River, swollen from heavy rains, broke through a … An October visit found it far from inspiring. You're more likely to see a "Keep Tahoe Blue" bumpersticker in Palm Springs than you are stickers referring to the Salton Sea. Dust billows across the desert, blanketing playgrounds and baseball diamonds, the swirling grit canceling recess and forcing students indoors. 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. Full Op-Ed Those days worry Miriam Juarez the most. “Exposing this population to more and more poor air quality — in particular, particulate matter small enough to penetrate the lung-blood barrier that also carries toxins like arsenic, selenium, and pesticides — would be devastating to the public’s health,” Ruiz said. 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. 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. 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