Decision time for the Salton Sea

Shrinking Salton Sea

In a recent oped, the Audubon Society illustrated the difficult choices facing California at fending off an “ecological disaster” in the area of the Imperial and Coachella Valleys

The state of California has been struggling for years with the consequences of the Salton Sea drying up, including toxic air pollution, loss of bird habitat and myriad health hazards for the thousands of children living in the region.

Audubon’s Salton Sea program director, Frank Ruiz, recently provided a comprehensive update of the issues facing the inland sea, published in several southern California media, including the Riverside Press-Enterprise.

There is some good news to report, noted Ruiz, especially the fact that legislation recently signed by Gov. Jerry Brown would allocate $200 million (out of a statewide package of $4 billion for parks, water, coastal and climate-related projects) to addressing the sea’s ecological crises.

As Ruiz notes, that money is a good start, even though it constitutes about half of the estimated costs ($380 million, in total) for 29,000 acres of air-quality control efforts and habitat projects.

But, he added, money alone “will not avert the looming disaster” at the sea. Political will, he argued, is the difference-maker:

“Ultimately, the question of whether California will act fast enough in 2018 to avoid the worst impacts at the sea depends on leadership from Gov. Brown and California Natural Resources Secretary John Laird,” wrote Ruiz.