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.
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
(Read this excerpt from the May/June 2015 issue along with
the editor’s note. Click here to
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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
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
Southern California’s Imperial Valley is home to California’s
drainage success story, one that converted a desert landscape
to an agricultural one, but at the same time created far reaching
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