The mission of Salton Sea Sense is to promote thoughtful conversations that lead to an improved understanding of the ecological, economical, and cultural value of the Salton Sea. We aim to elevate the Salton Sea, and the issues surrounding it, in the minds of community members, policymakers, and industry leaders, while providing a resource for informed decision-making regarding the future of the Sea and its effects in Southern California and beyond.

Contributors include the following University of California, Riverside doctoral students who are a part of the National Science Foundation WaterSENSE IGERT program. Information on the program can be found at


BioPhoto_Stacia Stacia Dudley received her B.S. in biology from Florida State University where she conducted research on the 2010 Deep Horizon oil spill. Currently she is a graduate student at UCR in Environmental Toxicology working in Dr. Jay Gan’s laboratory. Her primary research interests are uptake and metabolism of pharmaceuticals and personal care products in plant tissues that have been introduced to the environment through waste water and biosolids. In her spare time she loves to hike, travel, and cuddle with her German short hair puppy. She is passionate about protecting the Salton Sea because of her concern for the habitat, temperate microclimate and valuable economic resources it provides.

BioPhoto_MiguelMiguel Garcia was born and raised in Mexico. He is a Ph.D. student in the Environmental Sciences Department at UCR. He received a B.S. in Chemistry with a minor in Environmental Science in 2014 also from UCR. Miguel is currently working with Dr. Michael Anderson with research focused on the fate and transport of emerging contaminants in lakes and rivers that receive treated wastewater discharge. During his free time, Miguel enjoys hiking, fishing, reading, and listening to heavy metal. He is greatly interested in the role that the Salton Sea plays in the water allocations of Colorado River water.


BioPhoto_CarolineCaroline Kim is currently pursuing her Ph.D. at UCR in Chemical Engineering. She received her M.S. degree in Chemical Engineering at University of California, Davis and a B.S. degree in Chemical engineering and with a minor in Chemistry at University of Washington. Her research project at Davis focused on the mobility of supported lipid bilayer on poly(acrylic acid) cushion. With the skills she has acquired during her Master’s degree, now she is researching on biofilm cleaning procedures for wastewater treatment process. She acknowledges the great impact of the Salton Sea on the community and ecology not just at the Salton Sea, but also more broadly around southern California and beyond.


IMG_4792Currently, Holly Mayton is pursuing her Ph.D. in Chemical and Environmental Engineering at UCR, where she studies the aquatic fate and transport of foodborne illness pathogens in agricultural washing and distribution processes. She is originally from Virginia, where she received her B.S. in Chemical Engineering at the University of Virginia, with a minor in Global Sustainability. As an undergraduate, Holly worked on interdisciplinary water projects in rural Nicaragua as a part of Engineering Students Without Borders, which inspired her interest in the similarly complex challenges surrounding the Salton Sea and the need for sustainable solutions. In her free time, she enjoys exploring local farmer’s markets and taking road trips.


Screen Shot 2015-04-04 at 9.01.17 AMMelissa Morgan is a graduate student in the Department of Chemistry at UCR. She received a B.A. in Chemistry in 2013 from The College of Wooster where she also played varsity volleyball. During her undergraduate studies she developed materials that capture and recycle nutrients from fertilizer run off. Currently, Melissa is studying the effects of sublethal levels of pesticides on the metabolism of aquatic organisms. Melissa cares about the Salton Sea because she loves spending time outdoors (playing volleyball, biking, swimming, hiking), and is therefore interested in efforts to prevent the Sea from drying up. Even though we live 100 miles away, losing the Salton Sea will have a far reaching impact on air quality.


BioPhoto_KatherineKatherine Muller is a Ph.D. graduate student in the Department of Chemical and Environmental Engineering at the University of California, Riverside. She has a B.S. in Chemistry from Harvey Mudd College. In her undergraduate research, she studied the effects of pollution and aerosol particles on fog, clouds, and the climate. Currently, she works with Dr. David Jassby designing new water filtration systems to remove fertilizers, heavy metals, and other contaminants from polluted water sources. Her motivation to study and educate people about the Salton Sea comes from research into the serious health, environmental, and economic effects of drying lakes, both in California and in Central Asia.


Screen Shot 2015-04-04 at 9.03.22 AMSamuel Patton studies environmental toxicology with a focus on the mobility of aqueous contaminants. He was born and raised Nashville Tennessee and considers himself a curious scholar and an excitable educator. He spent his undergraduate career at Tennessee State University studying inorganic chemistry and photoreactions of tungsten and molybdenum carbonyls. He is currently working on understanding how metals can be mobilized in groundwater systems and water distribution systems. He cares about the Salton Sea because it is a beautiful place that carries meaning for the community and presents an interesting, multi­-faceted problem that demands a long term solution.


Screen Shot 2015-04-04 at 9.01.44 AMJaben Richards is from Ft. Sumner, New Mexico. He received a B.S. in environmental science and an M.S. in soil science from Oklahoma State University. He then worked as a hydrologist for the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food, and Forestry for almost three years before coming to UCR to pursue his Ph.D. His current research has a focus on the fate and transport of pesticides in urban environments in order to mitigate pesticide runoff. Specifically, he is conducting studies to understand the role of urban dust particles in pesticide off‐site movement and estimation of pesticide runoff loads. In his free time, he enjoys playing disc golf, reading, fishing, and spending time with his wife.



BioPhoto_DrewOriginally from White Oak, Texas, Drew Story received his B.S. in Physical Sciences Education in 2011 from LeTourneau University and has a physical science teaching license for grades 8-12. Drew is now a member of Dr. Sharon Walker’s research group and studies the fate and transport of nanomaterials in aquatic systems. He plans to graduate in the summer of 2018 and wants to continue performing research that has direct implications for environmental policy making. In his free time, Drew enjoys playing basketball and football, riding his motorcycle in the mountains, exploring new places, and meeting new people. Drew is fascinated by the complexity of the Salton Sea and its issues, and is excited to be a part of the UCR WaterSENSE IGERT team that is working for the good of the Sea and all which it impacts.


Other Contributors:

BioPhoto_ToddBorn and raised in California’s Inland Empire, Todd Luce has spent his life hiking, fishing, and camping throughout this great state (including childhood romps around the Salton Sea). Having grown up breathing some of the unhealthiest air in the nation (where a level three smog alert meant no recess time), he recognizes the dire effects that letting the Salton Sea dry up and blow away will have on the region’s inhabitants, especially those whose economic or cultural ties make it impossible to move away from the impending disaster. He received his B.A. in English at UCR and is currently pursuing his doctoral degree in History at the same institution. His research explores the intersection of disaster (widely construed), infrastructure, and society in Southern California. In his free time, he enjoys cooking for his wife, drinking good ale, playing with their dog Wilson, and finding the time to watch Chinatown or There Will Be Blood, arguably the two best movies about exploitation and infrastructure in So Cal, ever made.

BioPhoto_GustavoGustavo Mellior received a B.A. in International Politics at the Ecole des Hautes Etudes Internationales in Paris, France and a M.Sc. in Economics and Finance from the University of Kent in England. He also worked as a financial journalist at and for Citibank’s and Morgan Stanley’s joint venture in managing stock options for their corporate clients. His interests include macroeconomics, finance and public policy, although he mainly focuses on the issues surrounding the economics of water. Gustavo’s current research deals with finding optimal dynamic water pricing paths that reflect the true cost of production and that can promote conservation and equity concerns. He believes that multifaceted challenges such as those of the Salton Sea is what might lie ahead in many other parts of the world as climate changes and growing economies put more pressure on finite resources.

8 thoughts on “Blog”

  1. My company’s new technology can contribute to the stabilization of the Salton Sea, but we would like to partners with a local community-based, Hispanic organization, in doing so. Please refer me to some candidate organizations?


    1. Hi Mr. James, Drew Story here. Thank you for reaching out to us! Please share with us more about your company and technology. I imagine that could better help us help one another. Looking forward to your reply,

      Liked by 1 person

  2. You guys are having a good time. The subject is serious. President Obama can prevent the ruination of the Coachella Valley and nearby areas by simple executive order canceling the water transfer to San Diego, etc. Much of the “dust” is sewage from Mexicali, 100% of which goes into the Salton Sea. 2017 is very close but the problems already exist. Skip the sweet senators and contact President Obama.


    1. Hello Edward,
      I will address your points in the order your wrote them.
      – We relish the opportunity to share and engage with people about the Salton Sea. We believe it is a valuable ecological resource worth preserving, and that the human health costs alone associated with inaction are motivation enough to do something. So by engaging people regarding the Sea, I suppose you could say we are having a great time!
      – We agree the subject of the Salton Sea is serious, and anyone who thinks otherwise is fooling themselves.
      – Are you familiar with any other instance of the federal government stepping in to restore an ecosystem to prevent human health damages? The Salton Sea and the QSA are under California’s purview. We believe that local governments are much more knowledgeable of, invested in, and capable of acting on the Salton Sea’s issues. See our latest post (published today) about some of the bills signed by Governor Brown that address environmental health and environmental justice. The ink from his signature is probably still wet. That being said, we would never discourage someone from writing to President Obama. If you feel strongly that is what you should do, we applaud your efforts.
      – Only 7.4% of the Sea’s annual inflows come from Mexicali; 80+% come from agricultural irrigation runoff in Imperial Valley, 8.6% from agricultural irrigation runoff in Coachella Valley, and the final 4% from precipitation. AB 965, a bill authored by Eduardo Garcia and signed by Governor Jerry Brown in early October, sets aside funds for cleaning up the New River waterways, and Baja California Norte is currently implementing infrastructure improvements to clean up the Rio Nuevo south of the border.
      – The senators and congressmen that represent the area surrounding the Sea are aware of the impending threat of it drying. We want to show our support for their efforts, and encourage them to be champions of the Sea amongst their peers at the state and federal level.

      There is a playa-breaking ceremony tomorrow morning to celebrate the beginning of the Red Hill Bay Restoration Project. US Congressman Raul Ruiz will be there to participate. We encourage you to attend and see that local action is being taken. Thank you for caring about the Salton Sea!
      Drew Story


  3. Thank You For This Article. I wonder if you all are aware of our group on Facebook: The Salton Sea? A recent proposal by Mr Coulter Stewart to gain River water from the Geothermal Electricity Industrial Park ( they use many acre feet in connection with fracking) by using Salton Sea water instead.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. As a scientist, I’ve studied the sea for over 20 years now, and I still can’t figure out why anyone would want to “save” an agricultural sump. The fish are NOT native, and the other wildlife utilize less than 10% of the overall sea, and even then it’s only out of convenience that the birds use it. People are too emotional nowadays, overly reactive, and it clouds their judgement and their ability to reason intelligently. The sea is an unnatural, useless body of hypersaline and contaminated water. So is the underlying aquifer. I’ve written numerous articles in the Desert Sun trying to point out the fallacy in “saving” Salton Sea, and some have actually gotten the message- others not so much. For those of you thinking that you’re going to attain a sea that rivals Lake Tahoe, well, good luck with that. I’m actually very fond of the Sea myself, even if I don’t share your sentiment to “save” the sea, but I know better than to try and turn a Chihuahua into a Great Dane. Even if you shell out the money and dump cleaner water into it, it’s not sustainable. Apart from water, you also have to understand what’s in the sediments, and what continues to flow into the sea. Anyway, I’m happy to answer any questions you might have. You guys can email me. Thanks.


    1. Hi Jeff,

      We have published several blog posts over the past 6 months that address some of the issues you mention here, including:
      – The misconception that the Sea is not “natural” (
      – The importance of the Sea to bird populations (
      – The socioeconomic status of the region that leads many people to disregard the necessity of Salton Sea restoration (

      We hope that you will have a chance to take a look at some of these posts! As a group of nine scientists, we too are aware of the facts and fallacies at the Salton Sea, and agree that comparing the Sea to Lake Tahoe is not reasonable. However, this should not take away from the other restoration needs for a sustainable Sea in the future.

      Thanks for your interest in the Salton Sea, and we would be happy to engage in further conversation about the science of the Salton Sea anytime!


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