Air quality experts evaluate conditions at Salton Sea

Air quality experts evaluate conditions at Salton Sea

SALTON CITY, Calif. - UPDATE: 5:59 p.m.

Will Lowell and his family decided to check out the Salton Sea Wednesday while visiting from San Francisco. 

"I've heard about it a lot, and I've seen how it used to be a playground in the 1950's for pretty much the rich and famous," Lowell said.

But he said he noticed something unexpected, when he stepped foot on shore. 

"I thought I was walking on sand, but it turned out to be a bunch of fish bones and scales," Lowell said. "So, I mean, [there's] really no sand left."

The valley's well-known body of water has been a topic of environmental concerns as of late, which is why air quality management experts made the trip to look at conditions. 

They said one of their main concerns is dust around the shore, and what it could be carrying in the air. 

"There's been lots of runoff over the years into the Salton Sea," Dr. Philip Fine with South Coast Air Quality Management District said. "Whether it's residual pesticide runoff, or other types of metals that have been put into the Salton Sea. So there may be some concerns about some toxic compounds that could be on that dust."

But experts said more research needs to be done, to help bring more visitors like Lowell to enjoy mother nature. 

"It's a beautiful place out in the middle of nowhere," Lowell said. "It's like you've got this hidden oasis." 

Officials have issued an advisory for the smell, which they say is related to Hydrogen Sulfide coming from the sea. 

Assembly Member Eduardo Garcia addressed state lawmakers Wednesday afternoon in Sacramento about efforts to restore the body of water, after Governor Jerry Brown allocated $80 million in this year's state budget to help fund projects.


ORIGINAL STORY: 3:47 p.m. 

Experts with the South Coast Air Quality Management District (SCAQMD) are making their rounds throughout the Coachella Valley Wednesday. They said some of their main concerns include not just improving the general air quality, but looking at conditions at the Salton Sea.

Officials with SCAQMD said the quality of the air around the Coachella Valley, in general, is down compared to recent years, mainly due to heat and wildfires.

KESQ and CBS Local 2's Zak Dahlheimer spoke to officials to learn exactly what they're looking at and their biggest concerns with air quality and its effects on our valley and the Salton Sea.

We'll have all the details on KESQ News Channel 3 at 5 p.m. and CBS Local 2 at 6:30 p.m.

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