California's Plan to Save the Salton Sea

The Salton Sea is drying up, and California is poised to spend $383 million to keep that from happening. At stake are Colorado River water negotiations between California, Arizona, and Nevada.

1 minute read

March 20, 2017, 9:00 AM PDT

By Philip Rojc @PhilipRojc

Salton Sea

Akos Kokai / Flickr

Ian James covers a last-ditch effort to save the shrinking Salton Sea. The plan, which still needs approval from the state legislature, calls for "constructing a patchwork of ponds that will spread out along the lake's north and south shores during the next 10 years." Tetra Tech Inc. will oversee construction, which is slated to begin next year. 

It's not at all certain that the plan will fully succeed. "The construction projects will lag behind the pace of the sea's decline, covering up only a portion of the vast expanses of lakebed that will be left dry and exposed to the desert winds." Further complicating matters, "the flows of water into the Salton Sea will decrease under a water transfer deal and the lake's level will begin to decline more rapidly."

Preserving the sea is an environmental priority, but it's also a factor in state-level resource negotiations. "Last year, the lack of a state plan for the Salton Sea emerged as a sticking point in negotiations between California, Arizona and Nevada on a deal to temporarily use less water from the heavily tapped Colorado River."

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