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The Salton Sea, 2017

Updated: Apr 22, 2021

2017 marks the 15th year of the water transfer from Imperial to San Diego. In 2003, the State Water Resources Control Board required that the Sea remain at its then level for 15 years by purchasing water otherwise intended for farms and putting it into the Sea. In the meantime, the State of California was to develop and being implementing a restoration plan. Mitigation water was not effective and the Sea is three feet lower than anticipated. More critically, mitigation water ceased completely in July 2017. The Salton Sea is drying faster each year, leaving thousands of acres of dust-storm causing playa exposed next to homes, farms and businesses.

Desert Shores Seafront Community Shoreline, Salton Sea

In 2002-03, CURE urged IID to limit the water transfer to 15 rather than 75 years so that the impacts could be reevaluated. That proposal was rejected. CURE continues to advocate that the water transfer be placed on hold until the State of California adopts and funds a meaningful plan. Delaying the QSA is controversial and San Diego Water Authority vigorously rejects this idea.

At this time, the demise of the Salton Sea and its impact on local communities seems inevitable. On November 7, 2017, the State Water Resources Control Board ruled that the Imperial Irrigation District can divert 100,000 acre feet of water from the Salton Sea in return for the Resources Agency building 15,000 wetlands and 15,000 of salt ponds – about two percent of the surface of the Sea.  CURE objected, (SWRCB Submission), along with the West Shores Salton Sea Mayor (Kerry F. Morrison Declaration ) arguing that the cessation of mitigation water is the death knell for the Sea. 

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