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To Sea or not to Sea?

Updated: Oct 1


Salton Sea, CA – For those interested in the ongoing mystery of whether anything meaningful will be done to Save Our Sea, the answer is – probably not. On June 5, California voters decided to approve a bond dedicating a measly $200M to the Sea when billions are needed to address what environmentalists call an ecological Chernobyl. State Water Board 3/20/18 Agenda Hope rather than action remains the State of California’s #1 strategy. See CURE’s recent comments to the State Water Resources Control Board lamblasting a “feel good” process that will accomplish nothing over the next 10 years but divert money and attention away from solving the real problem.

Parties supporting the International Canal Project submitted responses on March 9, 2018 to the Resources Agency’s Request for Information on developing an international canal linking the Salton Sea to the Sea of Cortes (potentially by renovating and expanding the existing Coyote Canal) which many acknowledge is the only feasible engineering option to preserve or restore the Sea.
Coyote Canal, Mexico. Black Moon Productions Photo

A number of firms presented:

AECOM
GEI Consultants & Michael Clinton
Jennings & Johnson – Sea to Sea Water Import
These 11 total proposals were all listed at: http://www.resources.ca.gov/salton-sea
but have been hidden while the state contemplates dry dust mitigation similar to the failed Owens Lake.

In the meantime, Imperial Irrigation District (IID) promotes a smaller sustainable sea which its own attorney sarcastically described as a “duck pond” at recent hearings. All water agencies continue to tout the unfunded “10 year plan” which could restore about 15,000 acres of wetlands for a whopping $385,000,000 subject to voter bond approval. CURE views the 10-year plan as a diversion and waste of taxpayer money. Moreover, it falls far short of the State of California’s obligation to mitigate all impacts resulting from the landmark 2003 Quantification Settlement Agreement and ag to urban water transfer, as some of the most important habitat in the State continues to go hyper-saline. For this amount of money, a larger restoration, and regional water sustainability for generations could at least have a good start.

Finally, IID continues to participate in discussions with the Colorado River Basin States to store yet another additional 300,000 afy of water in Lake Mead as part of the Drought Contingency Plan. IID’s hope (as with the QSA) is that the environmental community will capitulate and sign onto this additional diversion with little or no objection. Brenda Burman the recently appointed Commissioner of the Bureau of Reclamation visited the IID in El Centro in May, urging IID to “fast track” an agreement so that the DCP would be enacted this year without any additional environmental review. If history is prologue, they’ll get the green light to further reduce the Salton Sea.



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Citizens United for Resources and the Environment (CURE) is a nonprofit, tax-exempt charitable organization (tax identification number 95-4830802 under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code and founded in 1997. Donations are tax-deductible as allowed by law.