The issues facing the Salton Sea are diverse and interdisciplinary. Below you will find some of the various topics that our blog posts have covered in one way or another, which all play an important role at the Sea.
The Salton Sea is located in the Imperial Valley, a region of California where the dominant economy is the production of crops. In order to create this farming oasis in the middle of the desert, 917,540 million gallons of water a year must be shunted to the Imperial Valley from the Colorado River. This is the beginning of the story of how an agriculture revolution has created and changed the largest body of water in California.
Environmental economists have found that value can be determined by the prices people are willing to pay to visit a place, or how much they would pay to preserve it (even if they do not intend to visit) and by taking into account how changes in environmental quality affect wildlife, human health and worker productivity. So, what do economists say about the value of the Salton Sea? Read more to find out.
The Salton Sea and its surrounding area is an oasis of biodiversity in the Sonoran Desert. Over 400 different species of birds utilize the sea for some portion of the year, and the tributaries and wetlands surrounding the sea are home to common fish species such as carp, catfish, bass, and the federally endangered Desert Pupfish.
The Salton Sea straddles Riverside and Imperial Counties, where the population is predominantly Hispanic and Latino, and the median household income is around $49,000, compared to California’s median $61,000. It is up to the Sea’s many stakeholders to thoughtfully incorporate these local residents throughout the decision-making process.
Located roughly 160 miles from Los Angeles, the Salton Sea is California’s largest inland body of water. Occurring most recently as the result of a disastrous large-scale irrigation scheme to divert the waters of the Colorado River into the Imperial Valley at the turn of the twentieth-century (1905-1907), the Salton Sea is a cultural, legal, and environmental space that defies easy categorization.
What happens if the Salton Sea dries up? In short, normal sand might give you a bad cough, but little else. In the case of the Salton Sea, its dust can turn into a more serious health hazard and ultimately cost Californians billions of dollars in healthcare costs.
For as long as the Sea has been considered an environmental catastrophe in the making, there have been proposals to counter its demise. However, the many stakeholders have different priorities with regards to the importance of issues such as salinity, dust, and energy development which has made a cohesive restoration plan largely unobtainable.
The Salton Sea’s problems are so large that a single person’s desire to help can seem insignificant. But if you believe the Salton Sea needs help, and you want to see action taken quickly, there are things you can do about it!
It might seem that the key to preventing the Salton Sea from drying up lies in simply increasing the amount of water that goes into the Sea, but where to get the water from? That is a question that is far from simple and one that might not have an easy answer.
Many inland bodies of water, including the Salton Sea, suffer from rising salinity as they are subject to high temperatures and low precipitation. This high level of salinity and other substances from agricultural runoff can harm biota and prevent beneficial water use.