Regional Salton Sea stakeholders meet with Gov. Brown to prioritize Salton Sea

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SACRAMENTO — Assemblymember Eduardo Garcia (D-Coachella) organized a meeting Friday between Governor Jerry Brown and members of the Salton Sea Authority in an attempt to increase statewide support for mitigation efforts, according to a press release.

“This meeting between Governor Brown and our local Salton Sea stakeholders is paramount to the success of our mitigation efforts,” Garcia said in the press release. “The clock is ticking away and the fate of the Salton Sea and its surrounding communities weigh in the balance. We urge Governor Brown to make this a priority and I am committed to ensuring that California steps up, and quickly accepts and funds a strategy to save our sea. Imminent public health, and economic ramifications of its exposed playa would surely devastate the entire state.”

“Equally important as illustrating the challenges, is highlighting the extreme economic and renewable energy potential of this region. The area surrounding the Salton Sea is ripe with renewable energy opportunities, the vast expanse of open land lends itself perfectly for geothermal. We must remain innovative and leverage all available resources to support these economic drivers,” Garcia said.

According to the press release, the delegation of Riverside and Imperial County stakeholders included: Riverside County Supervisor V. Manuel Pérez; Imperial County Board of Supervisors Chairman Michael Kelley; Imperial County Supervisor Ryan Kelley; Torres Martinez Desert Cahuilla Indians Tribal Council Chairman Thomas Tortez; Torres Martinez Desert Cahuilla Indians Tribal Council Secretary Altrena Santillanes; Coachella Valley Water District Vice President Castulo Estrada; Imperial Irrigation District Director James Hanks; Imperial Irrigation District General Manager Kevin E. Kelley; and Salton Sea Authority Executive Director Phil Rosentrater.

This coalition traveled to the State Capitol and presented a collective agenda of concerns regarding the 10-year Salton Sea Management Plan, renewable energy prospects, and extended an invitation for Brown to travel down to survey the Sea firsthand, said the release.

“Our meeting today with Governor Brown was productive and we appreciate his leadership on the Salton Sea and the State’s current funding partnership,” said V. Manuel Perez, Riverside County Supervisor, in the press release. “Assemblymember Eduardo Garcia has been a great advocate and put forth meaningful Salton Sea legislation to improve the overall condition at the Salton Sea. As we move forward with implementation of the 10-year plan, I had concerns that this plan is not fully funded and Riverside County would not receive its fair share of the 10-year implementation dollars.

“Governor Brown was committed to working with the Assembly and Senate and Salton Sea Authority to work through legislation that would support funding for the entire Salton Sea,” Perez continued in the release. “He recognized what’s good for the south end of the sea is also good for the north end of the sea, and vice versa. I will continue to work on behalf of the Salton Sea and needed funding for projects to protect the environment and public health of our residents.”

“I was extremely pleased to have the opportunity to talk to the Governor and stress the importance of properly funding Salton Sea restoration efforts, an issue that is critical to the human and environmental health of our community. On behalf of our county and its residents, we appreciate the Governor’s attention to the matter and willingness to take a stand on this important issue,” said Imperial County Board of Supervisors Chairman Michael Kelley in the press release.

Imperial County Supervisor Ryan Kelley, District 4 added, “We hope that the Governor accepts our invitation to visit Imperial County, especially the Salton Sea, so he can see firsthand the impending disaster that faces our community. It will also be a great opportunity for him to witness the potential benefits of geothermal development in the Salton Sea Known Geothermal Resource Area.”

According to the release, this year, Assemblymember Garcia and Senator Ben Hueso (D- Chula Vista) have introduced critical pieces of legislation to establish both funding mechanisms and strategy for Salton Sea mitigation efforts. These bills include:

AB 18, California Clean Water, Climate, Coastal Protection, and Outdoor Access For All Act of 2018

ï‚· Specifically allocates $280 million (formerly 30 million) funding allocation for Salton Sea mitigation.

SB 615, Salton Sea Restoration Plan

 Would codify the California Natural Resources Agency’s 10-year Salton Sea Management Plan.

ï‚· Plan shall address:

(a) Expected lakebed exposure during the 10-year period of the memorandum of understanding

(b) Habitat or air quality projects that will be used to cover the exposed lakebed

(c) Funding needs and availability to implement the plan

SB 701, the Salton Sea Obligations Act of 2018

 $500 million bond to implement the California Natural Resources Agency’s 10 year Salton Sea Management Plan.

SB 5, California Drought, Water, Parks, Climate, Coastal Protection, and Outdoor Access For All Act of 2018

 Additionally, Garcia has worked to secure $280 million in Salton Sea funding in SB 5, Senate President Pro Tem Kevin De León’s (D-Los Angeles) park bond proposal.

The Salton Sea Bill measures will face major legislative hurdles this week, according to the press releae. AB 18, the California park bond proposal, successfully passed both the Senate Committees on Natural Resources and Water and that of Governance and Finance, while SB 615 and SB 701 are set to go before the Assembly Committee on Appropriations.