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Editorial Calls for Drastic Actions to Fix the Salton Sea

A Los Angeles Times editorial board sheds light on the ongoing environmental disaster of the Salton Sea in California, and the lack of action by the state to mitigate the worsening impacts.
April 5, 2019, 1pm PDT | James Brasuell | @CasualBrasuell
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Imperial Valley

"California’s largest internal body of water is steadily drying up, exposing a lake bed that threatens to trigger toxic dust storms and exacerbate already high levels of asthma and other respiratory diseases in Southern California," according to the editorial.

Despite those stakes, the remoteness of the Salton Sea makes it too easy for the state's political leadership to ignore. But it shouldn't be—it's hydrologically connected to the state's freshwater supplies in the north and the south, according to the editorial, and it's a "disaster in the making," felt most acutely by the Imperial Valley region in the state of California. The Colorado River supplied "mitigation water" to the Salton Sea until last year—and a 20-year drought on the watershed is likely to complicate large water deliveries to the Salton Sea (despite promises that the Imperial Valley's concerns will be met by a draft Drought Contingency Plan awaiting Congressional approval).

The editorial raises awareness that the environmental disaster promised by scientists for years started to become a reality this past winter. "As the rain and snow washed away drought and at least temporarily diminished environmental problems in the rest of the state, the contraction of the Salton Sea accelerated. Increasing salinity kept the lake from sustaining even the salt-hardy tilapia. The birds failed to appear."

As for whether California's new political leadership can muster the will to change the state's pattern of neglect regarding the Salton Sea, the editorial does indicate a note of optimism in new Governor Gavin Newsom's previous statements on the subject.

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Published on Friday, March 29, 2019 in Los Angeles Times
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