Obama Budget includes $200,000 for Salton Sea Studies

Receding Salton Sea shoreline
Receding Salton Sea shoreline


WASHINGTON – The Obama administration’s fiscal 2015 budget request to Congress seeks a fraction of the $1 million that two Southern California congressmen had sought for the Salton Sea Restoration Project.

President Barack Obama’s spending wish list, unveiled Tuesday, seeks $200,000 for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to continue studying issues with the Salton Sea, California’s largest inland body of water.

Reps. Raul Ruiz and Juan Vargas wrote to Obama last week requesting that the White House include $1 million in the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation’s 2015 budget for the ailing lake.

The reclamation agency requested no funding for the Salton Sea for fiscal 2015, which begins Oct. 1. It had sought $300,000 last year.

The reclamation bureau’s 2015 funding request seeks money from Congress for other California projects like the Central Valley Project ($119 million), California Bay-Delta Restoration ($37 million) and the San Joaquin River Restoration Fund ($32 million to implement a legal settlement).

The Army Corps and the Bureau of Reclamation didn’t respond to requests for comment. Neither did Vargas.

Ruiz issued a statement putting a positive spin on the Army Corp’s funding request, declining to say if he’s disappointed in getting 20 percent of the funding he’d pushed for.

“I am pleased to see continued support for Salton Sea restoration in the president’s budget. This commitment is a step toward preserving the sea and addressing the health, economic, and environmental challenges we face,” the Palm Desert Democrat was quoted as saying.

Ruiz and Vargas, whose districts include the Salton Sea, said in last week’s letter that the lake would be in serious peril beginning in 2017, when agricultural runoff feeding it starts to decline.

Uncle Sam has spent about $51.4 million for a variety of Salton Sea projects since 1985, according to the Congressional Research Service. The reclamation agency’s Salton Sea Research Project has received about $22.7 million since 2000, CRS said.