Investigative

Averting disaster at the Salton Sea

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Watch: Averting disaster at the Salton S

Salton Sea, Calif. - The State of California now has a 10-year plan to manage the shrinking Salton Sea.

The stakes are very high, with tens of thousands of acres of lake bed about to be exposed over the next decade.

We took a tour of the south end of the Salton Sea by airboat with Imperial Irrigation District General Manager Kevin Kelley.

 

He pointed out that much of the area we were boating on would soon be the first lake bed exposed.

It's an issue that's been years in the making.

The 2003 Quantification Settlement Agreement set the stage for water transfers to San Diego and the Coachella Valley Water District.

Next year, the agreement calls for an end to the mitigation water that's been going to the Salton Sea which will expose tens of thousands of acres over the next 10 years.

Problems are already appearing in communities along the Salton Sea's eastern shore.

In Desert Shores, the once full canals are nearly empty.

Homeowners who once had access to the sea for boating and reaction no longer do.

Loretta Boyer of the Desert Shores Property Owners Association says, "This is becoming a very volatile situation now!"

 

Bruce Wilcox is the man appointed to carry out the plan as California's assistant secretary of Salton Sea Policy.

The 10-year plan has a price tag of about $383 million and only $80 million of that has been allocated.

He says the plan will include wildlife habitat construction along with dust mitigation.

"This is realistic," Wilcox says.

One of the components will be geothermal energy.

 

Additional power plants will eventually occupy areas that could have been emissive lake bed.

Imperial Irrigation likes the plan but wants more assurances and asked for a hearing by July 17.

So far, a date hasn't been set as discussions continue.

You can find more information and resources from the IID and California Natural Resources Agency.


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