Letter to Governor Brown and the Legislature on the Salton Sea



For this study, the Commission revisited its September 2015 review of Salton Sea environmental mitigation and strategic management, Averting Disaster: Action Now for the Salton Sea. The Commission’s report, citing an impending air quality, public health and ecological crisis at the shrinking inland desert lake that straddles Imperial and Riverside counties, called for the state to take immediate action to begin addressing the anticipated impacts. Specifically, the Commission urged the California Natural Resources Agency to begin implementing shovel-ready projects, and the Governor and the Legislature to immediately begin planning and funding the next phase of Salton Sea projects while developing a long-term plan.

The defining environmental condition at the Salton Sea is lack of fresh water to sustain its size, plus an ever-increasing salinity. Biologists believe the sea is headed for ecological collapse as fish species die out and migrating birds find no food.  Further, the seabed harbors nearly a century’s accumulation of toxins from agricultural runoff. As the sea recedes, desert winds are expected to sweep saline dust and toxins into the air, threatening the air quality for neighboring residents and potentially, much of the Los Angeles region.

The Commission’s report encouraged the newly-appointed assistant secretary for Salton Sea policy at the Natural Resources Agency to immediately begin working with the Governor’s Salton Sea Task Force and stakeholders to expedite construction projects, policy recommendations and funding priorities to meet mitigation and management goals. The Commission, in accordance with its oversight responsibility, also stated that it would hold a hearing in April 2016 to learn the progress the state has made in implementing the currently-permitted projects.

The Commission scheduled a public hearing on Monday, April 25, to follow up on issues raised in its 2015 report and to assess the progress of implementing its Salton Sea recommendations to avert environmental disaster in Southern California.

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