The inevitable is upon us. Channeling Hydrowonk’s favorite Chicagoan theologian, “the curtailments have come home to roost.”
Many are not surprised. The early 20th century was a period of historically high natural flows on the Colorado River when the 1922 Colorado River Compact was negotiated. The 1944 Treaty with the Republic of Mexico was, at least partly, a national security exercise during World War II against Nazi incursion south of our border. Were interested parties inside and outside state and federal governments engaged in long-term comprehensive risk assessment over the past seventy years? Based on Hydrowonk’s four decades plus experience, nope (with a few exceptions). Neglect is always a prelude to catastrophe.
On July 14, 2022, Hydrowonk was interviewed by KUSI News Anchor Logan Byrnes on Good Evening San Diego about current efforts to restore the Salton Sea. The interview included why it’s important to restore the Salton Sea, an overview of Sea-to-Sea Bi-National Canal Company’s plan to bring 1 million acre-feet per year from the Sea of Cortez, why there’s been a delay in restoration efforts at the state level, and next steps.
Over two years ago, a Los Angeles Times Editorial stated: “The Salton Sea is a disaster in the making. California isn’t doing anything about it.”
The State of California has finally commissioned this summer (2021) a review of proposals submitted over three years earlier (March 2018). What is the state’s schedule for addressing the rapidly deteriorating conditions at the Salton Sea? The current plan is for the review to be completed by December 2022. And then?
“The Salton Sea is a disaster in the making. California isn’t doing anything about it,” states a Los Angeles Times Editorial. The announcement of California’s 10-Year Plan was made with great fanfare in 2017. Two years later, one-fifth into the 10-year plan, planned projects have not started. Nothing has happened. The environmental and public health tab from continued inaction compounds.
The long-term, sustained decline of the Salton Sea is a conundrum. Under the terms of the historic long-term water conservation and transfer agreement between the Imperial Irrigation District and the San Diego County Water Authority, the impact of the transfer through 2017 was fully mitigated. As I reported in my earlier blog post, no one in the Salton Sea crowd has an explanation for the precipitous decline in the elevation of the Salton Sea.