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can the salton sea be fixed

So she began packing fresh clothes for him every day, before COVID-19 halted in-person learning. “In the coming months, we’ll be breaking ground in the southern western part of the sea, on the species habitat conservation plan that’s close to three or four-thousand acres of habitat restoration and air quality mitigation. Biden rejoining the Paris Agreement, explained. Saving the Salton Sea will not be easy, or cheap. The eight restoration plans under consideration vary in scope, cost and time to complete. 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. Several proposals to ‘fix’ the sea are being considered. 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. Still, the state must overcome funding issues, disagreements with the feds, permitting bottlenecks, and decades of inertia. Knowing the lake would recede, the state committed to mitigating the health and environmental impacts. In 1905, these human engineering errors allowed saline water to be carried from a flooded Colorado River into the Salton Sink area, thus creating the present-day Salton Sea. A flat patch of dirt covered several hundred dry acres, dotted with a few dead trees. “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. It soon became clear that salinity levels would continue increasing. Dust billows across the desert, blanketing playgrounds and baseball diamonds, the swirling grit canceling recess and forcing students indoors. For a shallow body of water, the Salton Sea holds a large amount of sunk costs. The Salton Sea, California’s largest lake, is in decline, mainly due to ever decreasing water flows. In the context of shrinking wetland habitats, the Salton Sea has become a critical habitat for migratory birds to stop and rest during their annual journeys. Cleanup along the New River, one of three small waterways flowing into the lake, comes with a $28 million bill. Some prioritize economic development; some emphasize habitat creation; one seeks to minimize water requirements. The Salton Sea is a large body of water (a saline lake) in southern California, falling within both Riverside County and Imperial County. 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. The state and federal governments have spent about $70 million so far, largely on salaries and studies. 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. They believe algae, products from which are can produce the raw materials for fuel, can be grown on farmland around the Salton Sea. The Salton Sea is one of the world's largest inland seas, once 45 miles long and 25 miles wide. 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. It’s a sentiment her elected representatives share. Grist is powered by WordPress.com VIP. But Arturo Delgado, an assistant secretary with the Natural Resources Agency and the state’s Salton Sea czar, pointed out that a portion of the more than $355 million set aside for the lake — 99 percent of it from bonds — needed to be spent sorting out permits and access to a complex checkerboard of state, tribal, federal and private land. The water in California's Salton Sea is vanishing. Get news from Pacific Institute in your inbox. What can I do to bring the Green New Deal to life? But the Salton Sea doesn't command notice among environmentally minded Californians the way those other bodies of water do. We no longer have the luxury of delay and inaction. Unfortunately, this is not a problem that California can simply ignore or dismiss. Then, Juarez’s 17-year-old daughter began suffering headaches and respiratory issues. 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. Webpage: Salton Sea Ruiz, who was struck by the high rates of respiratory illnesses in the area, compares the lake to a patient “in need of triage.”. “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. Phase 1: Siphon sea water from the Pacific Ocean or … Despite its importance, the Salton Sea is the Rodney Dangerfield of California’s lakes, enduring insult after insult. Resources 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. This means that every time you visit this website you will need to enable or disable cookies again. The Salton Sea is a huge body of water, almost 50 percent larger than the San Fernando Valley. Despite its importance, the Salton Sea is the Rodney Dangerfield of California’s lakes, enduring insult after insult. But the fix is easy. You're more likely to see a "Keep Tahoe Blue" bumpersticker in Palm Springs than you are stickers referring to the Salton Sea. It’s also toxic — a looming environmental and public health disaster. Once again a floodgate was omitted. Phil Kiddoo, an air pollution expert who worked to contain a similar problem of the dry Owens Lake, told The Verge in an interview that the Salton Sea should be fixed as soon as possible. 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 comment letter focuses on how the California Water Resilience Portfolio can incorporate multiple benefits when prioritizing and funding water management strategies throughout the state. This means that unlike most lakes which have an outflow, the Salton Sea only has inflow. 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. 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. Crowfoot acknowledged that the state lacks a mechanism to fund long-term monitoring and upkeep. Tractors dug long, straight furrows through the white, sandy playa to catch the windblown dust. But more expensive wetland habitat restoration is needed; the lake has long been an important feeding ground along the Pacific Flyway, a migratory bird route on the Western Seaboard. Of course, such compromise will not be perfect. This comment letter conveys summary comments and suggestions on the draft Water Resilience Portfolio released by California state agencies, drawing on the considerable experience Pacific Institute has around themes of water efficiency, stormwater management, and the Salton Sea. But the Salton Sea is just 43 feet at its maximum depth. It’s difficult to find hope in stepwise permit approvals while dust fights through cracks in her home. Some prioritize economic development; some emphasize habitat creation; one seeks to minimize water requirements. 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. It has since been fed largely by agricultural runoff from the Imperial and Coachella valleys. The potentially dangerous air quality problems aren’t associated with the smell but rather the particulate pollution from a drying sea. 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. She doesn’t want to move away but is finally considering it. 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. 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. In some places, you can't see the opposite shore because of the earth's curvature. 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. Red flags flutter outside the schools in Salton City, California, when the air quality is dangerous. Assembly Member Eduardo Garcia, a Democrat from Coachella, who represents the region surrounding the lake, is optimistic. And while California regularly calls on bonds to fund large projects, that money can’t be used for operations and maintenance. For more than 40 years, Californians have been studying and debating ideas about saving the Salton Sea. So, she asked, “Why is nothing getting done?”. Saving the Salton Sea will not be easy, or cheap. Fish and Wildlife Service refused to attend a September congressional hearing to discuss the government’s role in cleaning up the lake. Full Op-Ed “Folks got sticker-shocked and did not really pursue a full rehabilitation-restoration approach,” Garcia said. 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. The Salton Sea’s problems are symptomatic of problems across the Colorado River basin. Dust billows across the desert, blanketing playgrounds and baseball diamonds, the swirling grit canceling recess and forcing students indoors. 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. It formed by accident in 1905, when the Colorado River, swollen from heavy rains, broke through a … 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. When the pandemic hit, that idea and a parallel measure Garcia introduced in the Legislature both died, although Garcia said he’ll reintroduce his bill in 2021. “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. Green groups promised a racial reckoning in 2020. 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. 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. The lake’s most recent iteration formed between 1905 and 1907, when an engineering disaster diverted the river into the basin. I'm sure it is less enjoyable when the temperature are over 100. A dock sits where the water from the Salton Sea used to reach. 654 13th Street Unfortunately, this is not a problem that California can simply ignore or dismiss. Pacific Institute From this free flowing water, the Salton Sea was created. That one completed site, the Bruchard Road Dust Suppression Project, looks like someone tried to farm the surface of the moon. But she couldn’t leave her job, harvesting vegetables in the fields that form square oases in the Coachella Valley. A compromise plan that does what the law requires—providing quality fish and wildlife habitat and protecting air and water quality—and creates recreational and economic opportunities may be the last, best chance for the Salton Sea. The Salton Sea is a shallow, landlocked body of water that has a high concentration of salts in Riverside and Imperial counties. “I’m nervous, and I’m scared to see my son like that,” Juarez said. 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. TweetShareShare. Now the Desert Shores, California, area has a stagnant pool of water left at the bottom of the former canals. 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.". The Sea is too important, and ultimately, too costly, not to save. Finally, Juarez got a runny nose and sore throat that lasted for days when the dust blew. That meant that the lake’s level was guaranteed to drop. Still, the agreement included 15 years of inflows to temporarily control salinity while the state decided on a plan. 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. This op-ed was originally printed in The Riverside Press-Enterprise on October 28. Visibility is so poor you can’t see down the block. Powered by Create your own unique website with customizable templates. (Geologic studies show that the Colorado River spilled into the Salton Basin many times over the millennia, creating intermittent lakes. 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. 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. “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. The Sea is too important, and ultimately, too costly, not to save. It is shrinking and becoming more saline with significant impacts on the region’s health, wealth and environment. Since entering Congress in 2013, he has tried to rally local lawmakers and called on the federal government to take a more active role. Need a daily dose of good climate news? They’re racing against the clock. Of course, such compromise will not be perfect. The water gushed for 18 months before engineers finally fixed the breach. Not surprisingly, the scale and cost of the various restoration plans are also huge and complex. In 1905, the Salton Sea was formed when a levy on the Colorado River broke causing flooding of the Imperial Valley. “The ladies will help you change.”, Get Grist in your inbox Years of studies, salaries, and office supplies have been purchased, but few shovels have been put to work. At the beginning of 2020, Gov. Salinity Eutrophication Migrating Birds Air Quality. By the end of 2017, much of the water that has traditionally been redirected to the Salton Sea will no longer be available under the terms of the agreement, meaning the rate of exposure will triple to about 4,100 acres per year. ‘No more broken treaties’: Indigenous leaders urge Biden to shut down Dakota Access pipeline. 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