SALTON SEA, Calif. -

We may finally see some progress on saving Salton Sea.  For the first time, the President included money for it in the federal budget.

Friday Congressman Raul Ruiz and the Assistant Interior Secretary hosted a forum about projects ready to start.  While there is progress, it's just the beginning of a very long road to restoring the Salton Sea.
 
"The cost of not doing anything is devastating," said Ruiz.

Nearly fifty people met at the Salton Sea; lawmakers, biologists and environmentalists, from as far away as Nevada.

"There are things that we can do together that we can't do by ourselves."said Interior Assistant Secretary Anne Castle.

The problem is the sea is evaporating faster than water is coming in.  If nothing is done, it will eventually dry up and become a giant dust bowl.

"It's going to be a public health emergency, it's going to be an economic disaster, and it's going to affect our eco-system in ways that we can not let that happen," said Ruiz.

However, restoring the entire the 7.5 million acre sea will cost billions of dollars.

"The dollars aren't there.  We can't get a big chunk, $5 billion, all at once," said Juan DeLara, president of the Salton Sea Action Committee.  

Instead, the Department of the Interior will focus on smaller manageable projects.

"We are doing it at a piece at a time and that is really the best way to do it," said DeLara.
     
The Red Hill Bay restoration project already received $1.7 million in grant money from the state of California and President Obama included funds in his 2014 budget.

"This was the first time any President has done that, and it's an act of good faith," said Ruiz.

But, that's all it may ever be if Congress doesn't pass the President's budget.

If these efforts are not funded, Ruiz says the Valley economy would dry up right along with the sea.

"People aren't going to want to live here because of the stink of the Salton Sea which we experienced in previous summers that can go all the way to Los Angeles," said Ruiz.

A solution won't happen overnight, and it won't happen with taxpayers money alone, but Ruiz says now more than ever, people are committed to try.