SAN DIEGO, CA â€“Â State Senator Ben Hueso (D-40) and Assemblymember Eduardo Garcia (D-56) announced they will host a tour of Imperial Valleyâ€™s Salton Sea Thursday,Â March 16, Â from 1:00 p.m. â€“ 5:00 p.m.Â Â
Statewide leaders will visit sites and hear from community members, resource managers, and regulators. The objective is for participants to see the Salton Sea first-hand and deepen their understanding of the opportunities to protect public health, enhance the ecology, secure water management, and strengthen the regional economy.
â€œIt is an honor to have California Natural Resources Agency Secretary John Laird, Chair of the Senate Natural Resources and Water Committee Senator Bob Hertzberg, and my colleagues to visit my district to tour the Salton Sea,â€ said Senator Hueso. Â â€œIt is my goal for all of those involved to gain an understanding on what we need to do to restore the Salton Sea and learn more about our renewable sources of energy.â€
Senator Ben Hueso has introduced Senate Bill 615, known as the John J. Benoit Salton Sea Restoration Act, to require the Natural Resources Agency to develop a 10-year plan by January 1, 2018. Â He also has introduced Senate Bill 701 which will advance a state general obligation bond for the 2018 primary or general election ballot to fulfill the stateâ€™s resources settlement obligations in a variety of conflicted areas throughout the state, including Salton Sea restoration and implementation.
Â â€œAddressing the challenges affecting the Salton Sea requires creative solutions and a collaborative effort. Â Todayâ€™s visit by my legislative colleagues proves that this issue is not just aÂ local issue, but statewide. Â The restoration of the Salton Sea has been a top priority for my office and I look forward to working with my colleagues to secure funding to protect this natural habitat,â€ Senator Hueso added.
The Salton Sea poses one of Californiaâ€™s greatest water management challenges. Threats to public health and the environment, if nothing is done, are well documented. Â Yet real potential exists for a management solution that will protect public health, advance the regional economy, and restore environmental habitat.
â€œI have been interested in the Salton Sea for most of my life,â€ stated Senator Hertzberg. Â â€œI visited there as a boy and later worked on the Quantification Settlement Agreement for the Colorado River, which, among other things, committed the state to restoration of the Salton Sea. Â And now, as Chairman of the Senate Natural Resources and Water Committee, I am committed to partnering with Senator Hueso and Assemblymember Garcia on a long-term fix for the Salton Sea.â€
The Salton Sea also represents one of the most abundant and underutilized sources of renewable energy in the state, including the most prolific geothermal capacity in the world. Geothermal power plants supply base load power, electricity that is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
â€œThis is an excellent opportunity for key state leaders to become aware of the Salton Seaâ€™s critical environment and public health issues. Â While it is important to discuss the challenges, it is equally important to highlight the economic and renewable energy potential by showcasing some of the restoration projects that have benefited from legislation like AB 1095. Â Senator Hueso and I hope that this first-hand look will help our colleagues understand why we have been vehemently advocating for the state to prioritize restoration resources and count on their support moving forward,” Â State Assemblymember Garcia added.
Strong leadership and vision will be required to command the resources and planning necessary to solve the Salton Seaâ€™s problems. Beginning next year, significantly less water will flow into the Sea, compounding a public health and environmental catastrophe if bold action is not taken.Â