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. For a shallow body of water, the Salton Sea holds a large amount of sunk costs. Years of studies, salaries and office supplies have been purchased, but few shovels have been put to work. 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. 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. “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 They’re racing against the clock. Despite its importance, the Salton Sea is the Rodney Dangerfield of California’s lakes, enduring insult after insult. Another 160-acre design will cost $20 million. California politicians argue the federal government needs to step up because the Bureau of Reclamation owns much of the land underneath the lake. An October visit found it far from inspiring. Red flags flutter outside the schools in Salton City when the air quality is dangerous. Please enable and refresh the page. Years of studies, salaries, and office supplies have been purchased, but few shovels have been put to work. This website uses cookies so that we can provide you with the best user experience possible. The problem isn’t new. Gavin Newsom promised an additional $220 million, but that was predicated on a bond. According to an opinion piece in the Desert Sun, the Salton Sea water loss "poses a growing environmental and economic threat to the Coachella Valley, Imperial County and the state.". By Sara Jerome, @sarmje. 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. Phase 1: Siphon sea water from the Pacific Ocean or … 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. Some prioritize economic development; some emphasize habitat creation; one seeks to minimize water requirements. A flat patch of dirt covered several hundred dry acres, dotted with a few dead trees. Several proposals to ‘fix’ the sea are being considered. In response to competing demands, the 2003 agreement diverted water from the Imperial Valley. Red flags flutter outside the schools in Salton City, California, when the air quality is dangerous. The state and federal governments have spent about $70 million so far, largely on salaries and studies. Now, for the first time, there are concrete plans for restoring the Sea and enough information to make educated decisions. 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. Cons: Even if private investors are willing to tap into a speculative water venture, the projects, costing up to … It’s been almost two decades since an agreement was signed in 2003, committing the Imperial Irrigation District, the Colorado River’s largest user, to conserve water that once flowed from farms into the lake and send it to other districts. Finally, Juarez got a runny nose and sore throat that lasted for days when the dust blew. The Salton Sea is one of few wetland habitats remaining in California. Green groups promised a racial reckoning in 2020. This led to an 18 month period where the water was freely flowing into the Basin. Not surprisingly, the scale and cost of the various restoration plans are also huge and complex. 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. 654 13th Street Years of indecisiveness mixed with land-access and permitting issues have bogged down the process; the state’s own efforts to clean up the ecological disaster got stuck in the compliance process. 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. 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. http://www.saltonseacoalition.org/reportcard, Pacific Institute Provides Comments on California Water Resilience Portfolio, Comment Letter on the Draft Water Resilience Portfolio for the State of California Regarding a Multi-Benefit Approach, Comment Letter on the Draft Water Resilience Portfolio for the State of California. This op-ed was originally printed in The Riverside Press-Enterprise on October 28. Ruiz, who was struck by the high rates of respiratory illnesses in the area, compares the lake to a patient “in need of triage.”. 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. “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. In some places, you can't see the opposite shore because of the earth's curvature. The canal was fixed by 1907, but the Salton Sea had been created. Dust billows across the desert, blanketing playgrounds and baseball diamonds, the swirling grit canceling recess and forcing students indoors. The Salton Sea has gotten a bad rap over the years, most of it unwarranted. Get news from Pacific Institute in your inbox. “The ladies will help you change.”, Get Grist in your inbox It has since been fed largely by agricultural runoff from the Imperial and Coachella valleys. And the reason: The Salton Sea doesn't conform to what we think Nature ought to be. So, she asked, “Why is nothing getting done?”. So, in 2007, the state released a sweeping proposal with an $8.9 billion price tag — unfortunately, just as the Great Recession took hold. This story was originally published by High Country News and the Desert Sun is reproduced here as part of the Climate Desk collaboration. The Hidden, Potentially Deadly, Dangers Of The Salton Sea - Palm Desert, CA - A new UCR report has found the exposed Salton Sea lakebed known as playa can lead to significant health risks. Now the Desert Shores, California, area has a stagnant pool of water left at the bottom of the former canals. Run a high-capacity aqueduct inbound from the Gulf of California which lies to the south. For a shallow body of water, the Salton Sea holds a large amount of sunk costs. 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. 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. This means that unlike most lakes which have an outflow, the Salton Sea only has inflow. Such a compromise plan would be faster and less costly to complete than the existing recreational plans, providing both economic and ecological benefits sooner – and more feasibly – than with any of the eight existing plans. It started forming in 1905 when floods breached a levee on the Colorado River, sending a massive flow roaring downhill into a natural bowl, the Salton Sink, some 230 feet below sea level. Californias largest and saltiest lake, the Salton Sea. Its windborne dust travels across Southern California and into Arizona, but nearby communities — many of them populated by Latino farmworkers — bear the heaviest burden. 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. ‘No more broken treaties’: Indigenous leaders urge Biden to shut down Dakota Access pipeline. The Salton Sea is a huge body of water, almost 50 percent larger than the San Fernando Valley. He returned home to practice medicine after studying at Harvard, and he still wears gym shoes with his suits, as if he’s about to run into the emergency room. This means that every time you visit this website you will need to enable or disable cookies again. 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. Oakland, CA 94612. Some prioritize economic development; some emphasize habitat creation; one seeks to minimize water requirements. In order to “fix” the sea, government agencies, led by the state, will need to flood, plough or plant tens of thousands of acres to control dust, and rebuild habitat. The water in California's Salton Sea is vanishing. The Salton Sea, California's largest lake, will die unless the state throws a staggering amount of resources at it in the next decade or so. 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. 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