Health & Environmental Impact

-If We Let Salton Sea Die.

http://www.ecomediacompass.org/Ecomedia_Compass/EcoMediaCompass.org.html

                     Eric Hanscom Photo

IN THE LEGISLATURE:

AB-147 Environment: Salton Sea: dust mitigation.(2013-2014)

“The Imperial and Coachella Valleys, which already fail to meet state and federal ambient air quality standards, are likely to experience devastating impacts related to public health, agricultural production, and the environment.”

“…They confirmed that the rotten egg odor traveled about 150 miles from the Salton Sea to Los Angeles.”

(m)The Third District Court of Appeal, in In Re Quantification Settlement Agreement Cases (2011) 201 Cal.App.4th 758 (QSA decision), ruled that while the state was liable for covering mitigation costs above the first one hundred thirty-three million dollars ($133,000,000), it was entirely up to the Legislature to appropriate the money to pay for those costs pursuant to Article 16 of Section 7 of the California Constitution. The state people and environment would pay dearly to let the Salton Sea dry up. See the Full bill athttp://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/billNavClient.xhtml?bill_id=201320140AB147

 

THE QSA WATER TRANSFER

A 2017 water transfer agreement called the Quantification Settlement Agreement (QSA) will transfer a great deal of Salton Sea’s inflow to other areas of the state.  This would cause water levels to decline at an accelerated rate exposing large areas of dusty “playa” with toxic chemicals to strong desert winds.  The Salton Sea needs a dependable source of water for long term restoration and conservation.

AIR QUALITY HEALTH RISKS

Winds from the area of the Salton Sink blow directly to the heavily populated areas of Los Angeles, Orange County and San Diego. The drying of the sea would cause drastic air quality problems in dust (toxic PM10) and odor for the areas in and surrounding Southern California, Arizona and Baja Mexico. A very productive farming area would be left dry. Millions of animals would no longer survive due to lack of water leading to rising salinity. Regional Property Values Would Plummet.

In 2012 the LA Times reported on this issue when “…they confirmed that the rotten egg odor traveled about 150 miles from the Salton Sea to Los Angeles.”  Thousands of local residents within Riverside and Imperial Counties would be in danger of being engulfed in toxic dust storms and susceptible to increased chances for respiratory illnesses.  The warning signs are obvious when we look at historical examples of very similar cases like Owens Lake, 250 miles north of Salton Sea, and the Aral Sea in Kazakhstan

ON FORMER OWENS LAKE:

This multi-billion dollar mitigation project is what remains of Owen’s Lake.

(e) From 1913 to 1924, inclusive, a similar rural-to-urban water transfer occurred when the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) began exporting water from Owens Lake to Los Angeles. After only 11 years, LADWP had successfully drained all but a fraction of Owens Lake, exposing over 100 square miles of lake bed.

(f) For decades, the winds blowing across the exposed lake bed of Owens Lake eroded fine-grained sediments and salts, lofting them into the air, creating the single largest source of fugitive dust in the United States.

 Since 1998, LADWP has spent close to $3Billion to stem dust pollution in Owens Valley mainly by flooding a 40-square-mile area of exposed lake bed at a cost of 30 billion gallons of water a year.

 

 

ENDANGERING WILDLIFE ECOSYSTEMS

Lack of fresh water would spike salinity levels causing one of the world’s most successful fisheries to quickly die off.  This would directly impact the global bird population that depends on the Salton Sea for resources, like food and nesting grounds, during migration routes along the Pacific Flyway.  The resulting consequences would destroy natural checks and balances that keep an entire desert ecosystem (fish, birds, mammals, reptiles, amphibians, invertebrates, desert and aquatic plants, and humans) thriving.  It is the responsibility of local, state and federal governments to protect natural areas, as a whole, that provide life to listed sensitive, threatened and endangered species.  The video below (collaboration with Pitzer College) touches on how environmentally valuable the Salton Sea is to millions of wildlife.

Lack of fresh water would spike the salt content, likely changing the beautiful waters to blood-red due to salt loving bacteria. Fish would no longer survive and many millions of animals would no longer be able to survive in this important ecosystem.


                      Owen's Lake - Jasmyn Phillips Photo

 

DEGRADING NATIONAL FOOD SUPPLY

The prosperous agriculture industry surrounding the Salton Sea grows over 40 of our local and national crops including citrus, carrots, lettuce, alfalfa and broccoli.  A grand 80 percent of the nation’s winter vegetables are grown here along with a large date fruit industry.  The sea’s thriving ag industry also provides important jobs to local residents.  Receding water levels would only increase crop exposure to toxic dust, stronger winds and a decreased water supply resulting in contaminated produce.

Crop Pic

LOSS OF ECONOMIC & RECREATIONAL VALUE

The Salton Sea still provides homes to thousands of families, local businesses and recreational life. People still boat, swim, hunt, fish, birdwatch, hike, photograph, kayak, bike, off-road, explore and simply enjoy the sea’s natural beauty and Class A REC 1 water (safe for recreational use).  Failing to conserve and improve the current state of the sea would endanger its economic and recreational value resulting in plummeting property values, closed businesses and schools, loss of jobs, and destruction of several communities.

HAZARD’S TOLL, THE COSTS OF INACTION AT THE SALTON SEA:(Pacific Institute Study)

http://pacinst.org/app/uploads/2014/09/PI_HazardsToll_ExSum.pdf

BAD PRESS & MISLEADING INFORMATION

The Salton Sea has had more than its fair share of bad press and misleading information.  From the bad smell (natural wind, water, and algal rhythms), fish die-offs (natural algae blooms depleting the water of oxygen causing fish to suffocate),  mysterious bird deaths (caused by natural avian diseases), post-apocalyptic cities (several thriving cities with friendly people still exist), and whatever else you’ve heard has taken a toll on the sea’s reputation.  As you can see, that’s where we come in! We’re here to give you the facts and the other side of the story.  The side filled with ever-changing sunrises and sunsets, an avian sanctuary, a sense of unexplored adventure, and a stunning landscape as unique as its communities.  Discover why so many people and wildlife love California’s beautiful Salton Sea…

WE WOULD SAVE THE SEA AND HAVE TREMENDOUS OPPORTUNITY IF WE ADD WATER FROM A NEW SOURCE!

Canal Pic