Efforts to save dying sea dry up at state Capitol

Sep 07
Photo by Mark Sigmon
Photo by Mark Sigmon of fish die off at Salton Sea

It’s the most predictable environmental disaster in California’s history.

The Salton Sea is already slowly dying, its constant evaporation shrinking its size and making its water increasingly salty.

The sea is expected to shrink significantly by 2018, when water transfers will reduce agricultural runoff, its primary source of water. Fish and bird habitats would be severely affected, and more exposed dry lake bed could create walls of dust blowing for miles throughout the Coachella and Imperial valleys, impacting multi- billion-dollar agricultural and tourism industries.

An $8.9 billion preferred alternative for sea restoration was chosen by state Resources Secretary Mike Chrisman and submitted to the Legislature in 2007.

It would have created miles of barriers to make the sea one-fifth of its current size, as well as creating shallow saline and marsh habitats. The state’s plan called for almost $900 million to construct small pools, sprinklers and other air quality management tools, plus another $99 million a year to operate them.

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  1. The Salton Sea Authority points a strong finger where it belongs at the State of California-great timing cuz it stinks in L.A. too. If it stinks in the city the State will figure out a way to deal with IT$ problem. Stinking in L.A is very bad for State revenue expansion.

  2. Somehow, perhaps by rural myth over time or by the implication of IID’s responsibility by dumping fresh water into the Salton Sea over the years, the accidental creation of the Salton Sea- which pre dates the IID- has evolved to popularly become perceived to be the IID’s problem and responsibility.

    In 1900, the California Development Company began construction of irrigation canals to divert water from the Colorado River into the Salton Sink, a dry lake bed. After construction of these irrigation canals, the Salton Sink became fertile for a time, allowing farmers to plant crops.

    Within two years, the Imperial Canal became filled with silt from the Colorado River. Engineers tried to alleviate the blockages to no avail. In 1905, heavy rainfall and snowmelt caused the Colorado River to swell, overrunning a set of headgates for the Alamo Canal. The resulting flood poured down the canal and breached an Imperial Valley dike, eroding two watercourses, the New River in the west, and the Alamo River in the east, each about 60 miles (97 km) long. Over a period of approximately two years these two newly created rivers sporadically carried the entire volume of the Colorado River into the Salton Sink.

    The Southern Pacific Railroad attempted to stop the flooding by dumping earth into the canal’s headgates area, but the effort was not fast enough, and as the river eroded deeper and deeper into the dry desert sand of the Imperial Valley, a massive waterfall was created that started to cut rapidly upstream along the path of the Alamo Canal that now was occupied by the Colorado. This waterfall was initially 15 feet (4.6 m) high but grew to a height of 80 feet (24 m) before the flow through the breach was finally stopped. It was originally feared that the waterfall would recede upstream to the true main path of the Colorado, attaining a height of up to 100 to 300 feet (30 to 91 m), from where it would be practically impossible to fix the problem. As the basin filled, the town of Salton, a Southern Pacific Railroad siding, and Torres-Martinez Indian land were submerged. The sudden influx of water and the lack of any drainage from the basin resulted in the formation of the Salton Sea.

    The continuing intermittent flooding of the Imperial Valley from the Colorado River led to the idea of the need for a dam on the Colorado River for flood control. Eventually, the federal government sponsored survey parties in 1922 that explored the Colorado River for a dam site, ultimately leading to the construction of Hoover Dam in Black Canyon, which was constructed beginning in 1929 and completed in 1935. The dam effectively put an end to the flooding episodes in the Imperial Valley.

    Large fish die offs in the Salton Sea have been occurring on and off since 1900 when the Salton Sea was accidentally created. It has nothing to do with the QSA and water tranfers………..believe it.

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