Topic: Salton Sea


Salton Sea

Southern California’s Salton Sea—approximately 232 feet (70 m) below sea level— is one of the world’s largest inland seas. It has 130 miles of shoreline and is larger than Lake Tahoe.

The sea was created in 1905 when the Colorado River broke through a series of dikes, flooding a salty basin known as the Salton Sink in the Imperial Valley. The sea is an important stopping point for 1 million migratory waterfowl, and serves as critical habitat for birds moving south to Mexico and Central America. Overall, the Salton Sea harbors more than 270 species of birds including ducks, geese, cormorants and pelicans.

Aquafornia news Inland Valley Daily Bulletin

Rancho Cucamonga man completes 116-mile trek around Salton Sea

It was sheer jubilation as a muddy and sweaty Randy Brown crossed the finish line of his Salton Sea Walk on Sunday in front of the North Shore Beach and Yacht Club Community Center.

Western Water Excerpt

Countdown at the Salton Sea
May/June 2015

The clock is ticking for the Salton Sea.

The shallow, briny inland lake at the southeastern edge of California is slowly evaporating and becoming more saline – threatening the habitat for fish and birds and worsening air quality as dust from the dry lakebed is whipped by the constant winds.

(Read this excerpt from the May/June 2015 issue along with the editor’s note. Click here to subscribe to Western Water and get full access.)

Aquafornia news The Desert Sun

Randy Brown begins 116-mile walk around Salton Sea

Randy Brown set out on a 116-mile trek around the Salton Sea early Tuesday — an effort he hopes will generate more awareness about the plight of the shrinking lake.

Aquafornia news Riverside Press-Enterprise

Salton Sea: Activist taking a long, hot walk to support recovery

Six days, 116 miles: That is Randy Brown’s goal, starting Tuesday, June 9. From June 9 to 14, the Rancho Cucamonga website developer plans a grueling trek around the Salton Sea, on the edge of the desert between Riverside and Imperial counties.

Aquafornia news Associated Press

History of the Salton Sea

For centuries, the Colorado River periodically emptied into a body of water known as Lake Cahuilla on the northern reaches of the Gulf of California.

Aquafornia news Associated Press

California’s largest lake threatened by urban water transfer

An air of decline and strange beauty permeates the Salton Sea: The lake is shrinking – and on the verge of getting much smaller as more water goes to coastal cities.

Aquafornia news The Washington Post

California’s largest lake is slipping away amid an epic drought

The Salton Sea needs more water — but so does just about every other place in California. 

Aquafornia news The Desert Sun

History of Salton Sea solutions tends to repeat itself

Concern about the consequences of a shrinking Salton Sea began almost as soon as the floodwaters of the mighty Colorado River stopped pouring into the Salton Sink in 1907 — 16 months after a breach in a canal inundated entire communities in the Coachella and Imperial valleys and created an accidental lake the size of Delaware.

Aquafornia news The Desert Sun

Salton Sea problems could cut into region’s tourism wave

A diminishing Salton Sea is on course to put a drag on the Coachella Valley’s tourism economy, a recent study advises.

Aquafornia news The Desert Sun

Salton Sea on backburner as California deals with drought

As the historic drought drags on and Californians turn their attention to using less water, the Salton Sea continues to shrink — as do the chances of finding near-term solutions for revitalizing the ailing lake.

Aquafornia news The Desert Sun

Documentaries focus on Salton Sea, California drought

Two new documentaries about California’s struggles with dwindling water supplies will be shown back-to-back at the American Documentary Film Festival this weekend, one focusing on the state’s epic drought and the other examining the looming environmental problems of the shrinking Salton Sea.

Aquafornia news The Desert Sun

Once again, officials urge action on Salton Sea

Representatives from Riverside and Imperial counties met in Sacramento Wednesday to urge state water officials to create — and finally fund — a Salton Sea restoration plan before it is too late.

Aquafornia news Associated Press

California officials set modest plans for vanishing lake

California officials said Wednesday that the drought-stricken state set an unachievable bar to save the Salton Sea and outlined small projects aimed at staving off the demise of the state’s largest lake, disappointing farmers, environmentalists and others.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Water officials hear predictions of looming crisis at Salton Sea

After listening to seven hours of doomsday predictions, state water officials agreed Wednesday to look at one of California’s largest but often ignored environmental problems: the deterioration of the Salton Sea.

Aquafornia news The Desert Sun

Commentary: Tell officials we’re worth solution for water, Salton Sea

What one thing do all our local, state and federal elected officials have in common? All of them, both Republicans and Democrats seem to have given up on the Salton Sea.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Editorial: Saving the Salton Sea is smart environmental policy

They don’t like to hear this kind of talk in the rich agricultural lands of the Imperial Valley, but the Salton Sea was a big mistake.

Aquafornia news Inland Valley Daily Bulletin

Los Angeles filmmaker documents Rancho Cucamonga man’s Salton Sea walk

On a whim, Blake Alexander traveled from his Los Angeles apartment to the Salton Sea last May. It was the first time after a four-year absence of visiting when he discovered what had happened to one of the world’s largest lakes. 

Aquafornia news The Desert Sun

Editorial: Garcia bill a boost to New River, Salton Sea

Assemblyman Eduardo Garcia is pressing the fight to clean up the New River. … The push to clean up the New River should also be seen as a boost to efforts to restore the Salton Sea. 

Aquafornia news The Desert Sun

At Salton Sea, dredging makes way for large boats

Doug Veirs remembers boating on the Salton Sea more than 30 years ago, fishing for corvina and enjoying the calm waters. 

Aquafornia news The Desert Sun

Assemblyman pushes New River cleanup legislation

A new bill from Assemblyman Eduardo Garcia would hasten efforts to clean up the New River, which flows from Mexico into the Salton Sea and has long been known as one of America’s most polluted waterways.

Aquafornia news The Desert Sun

After 12 years, legal dispute over water transfer ends

Imperial County and the Imperial Irrigation District announced a settlement in a long-running legal battle Tuesday, ending 12 years of litigation over a water transfer deal and its effects on the shrinking Salton Sea. The case stems from the 2003 Quantification Settlement Agreement, or QSA, the largest agricultural-to-urban water transfer in U.S. history.

Aquafornia news The Desert Sun

Debate over Salton Sea strategy intensifies

The water districts of the Coachella Valley and the Imperial Valley are sharply at odds over an attempt to press the state to come up with a plan for the deteriorating Salton Sea.

Aquafornia news The Desert Sun

Editorial: Salton Sea neighbors should back restoration

The Imperial Irrigation District is calling on all stakeholders in the 2003 water transfer deal to come together to finally find a solution to the piece of that puzzle that has remained elusive ever since: the promised restoration of the Salton Sea.

Aquafornia news The Desert Sun

Wednesday’s Top of the Scroll: IID presses state to live up to Salton Sea commitment

The Imperial Irrigation District is pressing for the state to take the lead in settling on a plan for the Salton Sea and paying for it as a deadline nears in less than three years for the lake’s decline to accelerate.

Aquafornia news Riverside Press-Enterprise

Salton Sea struggles to survive

It’s hard to imagine that this quiet place once drew more visitors than Yosemite National Park. Back then, the Salton Sea was a boom town, rising out of the desert like a Las Vegas or a Palm Springs. The American Riviera, as it was known, was full of glamour and promise.

Aquafornia news UT San Diego

State urged to avert ‘crisis’ at Salton Sea

Imperial Valley water officials on Tuesday urged the state to help “avert an emerging environmental and public health crisis at the Salton Sea,” or otherwise consider restricting a massive water transfer deal that benefits San Diego.

Aquafornia news The Desert Sun

Brian Nestande says Salton Sea will remain a focus

As he prepares to leave public office, Assemblyman Brian Nestande said he’ll continue to work with other local leaders on a plan to help the shrinking Salton Sea.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Thursday’s Top of the Scroll: Jerry Brown pushes water bond, makes no promises about Salton Sea

Backed by politicians from both parties, California Gov. Jerry Brown brought his whirlwind campaign to San Diego on Wednesday to urge passage of Proposition 1, the $7.5-billion water bond.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Drought, drawdowns and death of the Salton Sea

The Salton Sea, California’s largest lake at 370 square miles, once supported resorts that drew celebrities such as Frank Sinatra and Jerry Lewis.

Aquafornia news The Desert Sun

Promotion begins for Salton Sea license plate

A new campaign is underway to promote the new Salton Sea license plate, with the goal of registering at least 7,500 pre-sales by the end of next year. … Assemblyman Brian Nestande, a Palm Desert Republican, sponsored the legislation to create the plate. Gov. Jerry Brown signed the bill into law in September.

Aquafornia news The Desert Sun

Nestande proposes sales tax hike for Salton Sea

State Assemblyman Brian Nestande on Monday said he is launching a proposal for a quarter-cent sales tax increase in the Coachella Valley to help pay for a restoration project at the Salton Sea.

Aquafornia news The Desert Sun

Receding Salton Sea could make room for geothermal

The shrinking of the Salton Sea might pose a serious public health hazard, but it could also boost renewable energy development in the region, officials said Thursday at the Southern California Energy Summit.

Aquafornia news The Desert Sun

Energy summit focuses on Salton Sea’s looming problems

Michael Cohen has studied the problems of the shrinking Salton Sea for years, and he says one of the biggest challenges is that it’s hard for many people to envision the serious and costly environmental disaster that could be unleashed by the lake’s decline.

Aquafornia news The Desert Sun

Some tout ideas of canals, pipelines to the Salton Sea

During a long congressional career from 1963 to 1999, the late Congressman George E. Brown, Jr., called for solutions to the Salton Sea’s growing problems and once raised the idea of building a canal to connect the salty lake to the Sea of Cortez.

Aquafornia news San Bernardino County Sun

Salton Sea gains notice in new environmental plan

The restoration of the Salton Sea received a boost with the 8,000-page Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan released Tuesday by the federal Department of Interior. … In an interview, [U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell] said that the real fix for the Salton Sea involves water.

Aquafornia news The Desert Sun

Officials planning wetlands projects at Salton Sea

State and federal officials said Tuesday they are moving ahead with plans to build wetlands along portions of the dry shorelines of the Salton Sea, aiming to preserve habitat for fish and birds while also controlling dust.

Aquafornia news Riverside Press-Enterprise

Salton Sea: Fish and Wildlife Service approves restoration plan

Federal officials have approved plans for the restoration of the Salton Sea wetlands over the next 15 years.


Water & the Shaping of California
Published 2000 - Paperback

The story of water is the story of California. And no book tells that story better than Water & the Shaping of California.


Water & the Shaping of California
Published 2000 - hardbound

The story of California is the story of water. And no book tells that story better than Water & the Shaping of California.


A Climate of Change: Water Adaptation Strategies

This 25-minute documentary-style DVD, developed in partnership with the California Department of Water Resources, provides an excellent overview of climate change and how it is already affecting California. The DVD also explains what scientists anticipate in the future related to sea level rise and precipitation/runoff changes and explores the efforts that are underway to plan and adapt to climate.

Maps & Posters

California Water Map, Spanish

Spanish language version of our California Water Map

Versión en español de nuestro mapa de agua de California


Layperson’s Guide to the Colorado River
Updated 2018

Cover page for the Layperson's Guide to the Colorado River .

The Colorado River provides water to 40 million people and 4 million acres of farmland in a region encompassing some 246,000 square miles in the southwestern United States. The 32-page Layperson’s Guide to the Colorado River covers the history of the river’s development; negotiations over division of its water; the items that comprise the Law of the River; and a chronology of significant Colorado River events.

Maps & Posters California Water Bundle

California Water Map
Updated December 2016

A new look for our most popular product! And it’s the perfect gift for the water wonk in your life.

Our 24×36 inch California Water Map is widely known for being the definitive poster that shows the integral role water plays in the state. On this updated version, it is easier to see California’s natural waterways and man-made reservoirs and aqueducts – including federally, state and locally funded projects – the wild and scenic rivers system, and natural lakes. The map features beautiful photos of California’s natural environment, rivers, water projects, wildlife, and urban and agricultural uses and the text focuses on key issues: water supply, water use, water projects, the Delta, wild and scenic rivers and the Colorado River.

Aquapedia background

Salton Sea

Salton Sea

As part of the historic Colorado River Delta, the Salton Sea regularly filled and dried for thousands of years due to its elevation of 237 feet below sea level.

The most recent version of the Salton Sea was formed in 1905 when the Colorado River broke through a series of dikes and flooded the seabed for two years, creating California’s largest inland body of water. The Salton Sea, which is saltier than the Pacific Ocean, includes 130 miles of shoreline and is larger than Lake Tahoe

Aquapedia background California Water Map Layperson's Guide to California Water

Pacific Flyway

The Pacific Flyway is one of four major North American migration routes for birds, especially waterfowl, and extends from Alaska and Canada, through California, to Mexico and South America. Each year, birds follow ancestral patterns as they travel the flyway on their annual north-south migration. Along the way, they need stopover sites such as wetlands with suitable habitat and food supplies. In California, 90 percent of historic wetlands have been lost.

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Imperial Valley

Southern California’s Imperial Valley is home to California’s earliest agricultural drainage success story, one that converted a desert landscape to an agricultural one, but at the same time created far reaching consequences.

Western Water Excerpt Sue McClurgRita Schmidt SudmanGary Pitzer

The California Plan and the Salton Sea
Nov/Dec 2001

Water from the Colorado River transformed the sagebrush and desert sands of the Imperial, Coachella and Palo Verde valleys into lush, green agricultural fields. The growing season is year-round, the water plentiful and the local economies are based almost entirely on farming. As the waters of the Colorado River allowed the deserts to bloom, they allowed southern California cities like Los Angeles and San Diego to boom. Suburbs, jobs and people followed, and the population within the six counties served by Metropolitan Water District of Southern California (MWD) grew from 2.8 million in 1930 to more than 17 million today.