FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
(SALTON SEA, Calif. - Nov. 28, 2022) A proposed agreement between the state of California, two Southern California water districts and the federal government announced today would provide $250 million for projects to create habitat and suppress harmful, windblown dust at the beleaguered Salton Sea.
The accord between the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, the California Natural Resource Agency, the Imperial Irrigation District (IID) and the Coachella Valley Water District (CVWD), would expedite projects already part of the state’s 10-year Salton Sea Management Plan (SSMP). Under the agreement, Reclamation is directing $250 million from the Inflation Reduction Act to support remediation efforts at the Salton Sea, in addition to the $583 million already committed by California under the SSMP. In response to the drought crisis, California has agreed to voluntarily conserve 400,000 acre-feet of water it draws from the Colorado River annually for the next four years, including commitments of 250,000 acre-feet from IID and 35,000 acre-feet from CVWD.
“The Salton Sea presents a mushrooming crisis of human health and loss of critical habitat,” said Frank Ruiz, Salton Sea program director for Audubon California, a member of the Salton Sea Partnership, a statewide coalition of environmental, community, and public health advocacy organizations. “The federal government’s investment is a major step forward in investing in projects to safeguard residents and the environment. We look forward to federal partners continuing to work with the state, water agencies, and local communities to ensure that the Salton Sea remains a major priority as part of the complex water challenges facing the Western US.”
In August, the seven states comprising the Colorado River Compact missed a federal deadline to commit to two million acre feet in voluntary water-use reductions or face federally imposed restrictions. The largest share of water from the Colorado River, overtapped and shrunken from drought, goes to California.
The Salton Sea, California’s largest lake, has been shrinking rapidly due to water transfers to urban areas and climate change. The retreating waterline has exposed tens of thousands of acres of dry lakebed, or playa, which sends clouds of noxious dust into nearby communities. Surrounding towns, some of California’s most marginalized, suffer from high rates of asthma, COPD and other respiratory ailments. The lake’s shrinking size and increasing salinity also imperil habitat for some 400 bird species, as well as a globally important stop for millions of birds migrating along the Pacific Flyway.
The agreement is subject to approval by the IID board of directors at its Nov. 29 meeting.
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Jason Howe, email@example.com; 415-595-9245
About the Salton Sea Partnership
The Salton Sea Partnership is a group of policy, community and environmental non-profit organizations working with government agencies towards a healthy, vibrant Salton Sea.