BRAWLEY- The first Imperial Irrigation District Joint Workshop with the federal, state, and local authorities was held at Brawley’s Palmer Auditorium, Monday, in an effort to outreach to the community bring knowledge on the Salton Sea.
Members of the Salton Sea Authority, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, the CA Natural Resources Agency, and the concerned community members from the Imperial and Coachella counties were all present.
Discussion was focused on the problems surrounding the Salton Sea and the Salton Sea Authority’s efforts to save the Sea. The plans being implemented for the betterment of the area such as water restoration, reduction of the salinity, and possible recreational use of the sea where foremost in the discussion. According to Bruce Wilcox, Assistant Secretary of Salton Sea Policy for the CA Natural Resources Agency, the State of California received $8 million to be used in such projects, and plans are to put the money to use for the Salton Sea.
Wilcox stated that by the end of 2016 the plan for the Salton Sea restoration will be drafted and executed by 2018.
The public still showed concern about the presentation. In particular, the air pollution caused by the exposed playa and the apparent lack of action to solve the problem. According to the Air Quality Control, Imperial Valley has the worse rating for air pollution in the country, something that affects asthma numbers and overall quality of life.
“Our unemployment rates in Imperial Valley and Coachella are just as high as the asthma rates, so when you are weighing the dollars you are going to spend, where is the air quality mitigation that we were supposedly going to have out of these transfers?” asked one community member.
Another was hopeful on the plans for economical development.
“If we have a clean body of water, reduce odor events, reduce the stench, people will invest in this area,” said Mark, a Salton Sea investor, “I can’t imagine that the state would ignore this tremendous treasure.”
There was also a concern over a lack of communication, since this was the first one, the outreach committee promised they will be looking into better outlets to get the word out.
“We are being proactive and we are getting out ideas out to the water groups,” said Imperial County Supervisor, Ryan Kelly, “If we wait for Sacramento to move on things, the way they are now, we will be waiting for some time.”
The Salton Sea Management will hold another community workshop on April 13th in Mecca, CA.