“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.
Looking at the current reservoir conditions from the California Data Exchange Center, it is clear to see that the conditions in California are much different than from a year ago. Nine of the state’s major reservoirs that serve both the Central Valley and State Water Projects have over 100% of their historic averages for this date. The state’s two largest reservoirs, Lake Shasta and Lake Oroville are at 96% and 84% full respectively. The San Francisco Chronicle published a series of before and after photos of reservoirs in the state to show the stunning change in hydrologic conditions in just one year. For example, in August 2016, the San Luis Reservoir outside of Los Banos was at 10% of capacity. Fast forward to today, and the reservoir is completely full. The much-improved hydrologic conditions prompted Governor Jerry Brown on April 7th to issue an executive order that lifts the drought emergency in all California counties except Kings, Tulare, Fresno and Tuolumne. The drought emergency he rescinded had been in place since April 25, 2014. Continue reading
Hydrowonk gratefully received an invitation to attend the Salton Sea Tour sponsored by the Water Education Foundation on March 16th, the day the Natural Resources Agency released a 10-Year Plan for habitat and dust suppression projects in the Salton Sea. The tour was hosted by Assemblyman Eduardo Garcia, State Senator Ben Hueso and Resources Secretary John Laird. After assembling at the Imperial County Airport, the entourage went to two venues.
Why Field Visits are Always a Good Idea
The first stop was the Red Hill Marina. Presentations included the observation that, in 2004, the Salton Sea shoreline was where tents were installed for a brown bag lunch. I looked west to find the Salton Sea shoreline miles away. I was stunned at the decline in the Salton Sea elevation with the attendant increase in the amount of exposed playa laced with residues of toxic/unhealthful chemicals and organics.
In my last post, I wrote about how Apple Valley, a community in San Bernardino County began an eminent domain proceeding to take over Apple Valley Ranchos Water Company (AVR), a private water utility in the town. At the time of the passage of the resolutions of necessity in November 2015, the town’s citizens seemed ready and willing to embark on a protracted process to gain local control over the water system. A poll that the town conducted around the time of the resolutions of necessity determined that 70% of the population supported a takeover of the water system. The continued cost increases, drought surcharges and the desire for local control seemed to unite the citizens around the need for eminent domain proceedings. Continue reading