Saving the Salton Sea
Photo: Video by kmir6.com
CREATED Apr. 26, 2013
The huge lake in our backyard is getting smaller, and saltier.
That spells trouble for wildlife and people alike.
Just what to do about the Salton Sea was the focus of a meeting Friday with those who live in the area, and the lawmakers who are trying to fix it.
In 2017, the amount of water flowing into the Salton Sea will drop dramatically.
Instead, it'll likely be headed to San Diego.
Meantime the lake gets saltier, and more dusty lakebed is exposed as the water levels drop.
So lawmakers are working on several projects to help save the sea.
For some, it's been a life-long love affair with the sea.
"I love the area, I've been fascinated with the Salton Sea since I was a little kid," said Desert Hot Springs resident, Mike Lally.
Residents worry what will happen to the wildlife if something isn't done.
"There is nowhere else for the birds to go, they will die, and that cannot happen, if the sea drys up it it is a cataclysmic episode of untold proportions," said Salton City resident, John Kariotis, Jr.
And the air quality across the valley and beyond could get worse, all because of the lake.
Congressman Raul Ruiz said, "Catastrophic risks of our public health emergency with pulmonary illnesses and the airborne pollution that we will have from the fine particulate matter of the dust and we have to act quickly before that ground and the sulfur stink is more permanent and is far reaching and would ruin our economy."
More and more shoreline continues to be exposed at the Salton Sea, and in 2017, the water levels will be drastically reduced.
"We've got to figure out a way to maintain a sea here, much smaller than the one that was here in the last 100 years because its just too much evaporation and not enough water to do that, we think there are avenues to get there, but they are going to involve bringing the state and the federal government to the table at the Salton Sea Authority and working as a group," said Riverside County Supervisor John Benoit.
There are several projects in the works to help fix the lake.
Lawmakers from here in the desert to Washington are discussing the options.
Al Kalin says whatever they decide, the Salton Sea is vital for his farmland.
"What it once was and now no longer is, it worries me a great deal, but if you look back in history, the Salton Sea has been changing for millions of years," said Kalin of Kalin Farms in Westmorland.
Locals all agree, "The bottom line is the resource has to be conserved, or saved, or expanded," said Lally.
A state plan to clean the water in part of the sea could start as early as the end of this year.
But that's if it doesn't get cut from the state budget, and it's only a small part of the solution.