Under the direction of Governor Gavin Newsom, California state agencies are advancing projects at the Salton Sea to improve air quality and provide critical environmental habitat for birds along the Pacific Flyway.
Flows into the Salton Sea have declined in recent years, and the result is a shrinking, increasingly saline lake. As the Salton Sea recedes, previously submerged lakebed is being exposed, creating dust that is of concern to local communities.
At the same time, the SSMP team works to establish a long-term pathway for the Salton Sea beyond the next decade, including work to evaluate the feasibility of water importation as a strategy for restoration of the Salton Sea.
Since early 2019, the SSMP team has significantly improved its capacity to deliver projects at the Salton Sea. Informed by constructive input from community members, local leaders and interested groups, the team continues to work with partners to implement projects to improve conditions near the Salton Sea and institutionalize inclusive community engagement within and across SSMP projects.
New River Diversion Structure Under Construction as Part of the Species Conservation Habitat Project
The New River diversion structure (star icon) is a major component of the Species Conservation Habitat Project. Completion of this feature signifies a major milestone for the project.
The Species Conservation Habitat (SCH) Project, spanning the New River at the southern end of the Salton Sea, will create a network of ponds and wetlands to provide important fish and bird habitat while suppressing dust emissions to improve regional air quality as the Salton Sea continues to recede. On schedule for completion in 2023, the 4,100-acre SCH is the first of many projects the Salton Sea Management Program (SSMP) team will implement as part of the SSMP Phase 1: 10-Year Plan.
The New River diversion structure is a major component of the overall SCH Project. It will allow water diversion into the habitat ponds. The East and West Sluiceways will allow the water coming from the New River to flow north into the Salton Sea. The Labyrinth weir will allow the New River water to rise and a portion of it will flow by gravity to the New River West and East Intake Structures. The mixing occurs between the weir and the sedimentation basins at the mixing basins. Saline water from the Salton Sea is pumped in from the Saline Pump Station located at the north end of the Causeway into the mixing basins. The mixed water (from the New River and from the Salton Sea) will then flow by gravity to the sedimentation basins and then to the habitat ponds. The New River diversion structure is also a flood control structure that will allow for water to go through without compromising the integrity of the project.
During the first phase of construction of the diversion structure, material placement and removal was completed for ground improvement. Then followed by excavation and embankment, installation of sheet piles, and the concrete and rebar installation for the weir structure. The New River Diversion Structure is anticipated to be completed by the end of 2022.
Construction of the SCH Project is expected to continue through the end of 2023.
A few weeks ago, SSMP partners from Audubon California published a blog post that narrates their recent experience at the SCH Project site. “We were pleasantly surprised to find ourselves counting thousands upon thousands of Black-necked Stilts, Long-billed Curlews, Least and Western Sandpipers…”
The California Natural Resources Agency, the California Department of Water Resources (DWR), and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife are implementing the Salton Sea Management Program to address air quality and ecological threats at the Salton Sea. These agencies are collectively known as the SSMP team.
In this edition, we are putting Miguel Hernández in the spotlight to share more about his important work, as part of the SSMP Team.
Hernández is the Public Affairs Officer at the California Natural Resources Agency for the for the Salton Sea Management Program. He has been serving in this role since September of 2021.
Hi Miguel, can you tell us a bit more about your role at the SSMP?
Hola, my role is to provide effective public communications for the SSMP program. Leading the Outreach and Communications office to communicate activities, priorities, and progress happening for the SSMP, including its restoration projects. As part of the SSMP leadership, continue prioritizing community involvement so local input can better shape the work of the SSMP. Part of my role is to support the work of the SSMP Community Engagement Committee, in collaboration with the Committee co-chairs to achieve meaningful community engagement and utilize effective outreach strategies to connect with communities. I’ve had the fortune of been a part of the Community Engagement Committee years before joining the SSMP team.
What part of your job do you enjoy the most?
I enjoy engaging with SSMP partners, community-based organization, non-governmental organizations, community members. My job requires that I work in close collaboration with others to advance environmental justice priorities, bringing people together to achieve collective goals and identify effective ways to meet our objectives.
What inspired you to seek a career in communications and public outreach?
I was always part of school extracurricular activities that required significant public interaction. I also served in church programs that allowed me to learn from my community. I believe this is the baseline for my interest in communicating and interacting with folks around me.
Years after graduating, I found an opportunity to work with a grassroots organization in Imperial County. My work here required me to coordinate communications and media relations for the organization, including conducting community outreach for multiple programs. I led the Salton Sea Community Outreach, Education, and Engagement program intending to inform the hard-to-reach communities of the Salton Sea region. This opportunity allowed me to have close conversations with community members, learning that there is a ton of information that is not reaching these communities and that the Salton Sea is another item in a list of the multiple concerns in the area. I joined the State SSMP team inspired to communicate accurately and transparently with the people of my community.
What is your vision for the future of the Salton Sea?
I’m confident that if we continue to work in collaboration, not only the SSMP will achieve its commitments, but we will be able to achieve those collective goals that better serve the communities of the Salton Sea region. There are still significant challenges ahead of us, perhaps uncertainties too, but my vision for the Salton Sea is one with a positive outcome that prioritizes community concerns and preserves habitat value for the Sea.
The State is Recruiting Two Candidates to Join the SSMP Team
The Department of Water Resources is seeking applicants for a Budget Analyst to work with the SSMP.
The Budget Analyst works independently performing a wide variety of challenging and complex analytical and administrative tasks, as well as working closely with program managers on budget planning and tracking and grant contract development and invoicing for the Salton Sea Program.
The California Department of Fish and Wildlife is seeking applicants for Senior Environmental Scientist with the SSMP.
Under the general supervision, the Senior Environmental Scientist serves as scientific and regulatory lead for the CDFW Salton Sea Program and independently identifies problems, develops courses of action, conducts critical scientific investigations, prepares guidance, policy, planning, and regulatory documents, and legislative proposals and analysis. The incumbent requires a broad understanding of natural resources, conservation, and environmental laws, including aquatic ecology, fisheries, and water quality, and habitat structure affecting fish and bird health and abundance. This position is seeking applicants from any of the following counties: Riverside, Imperial, San Bernardino, San Diego, Los Angeles, San Joaquin, or Orange County.
Upcoming SSMP Engagement Opportunities and Salton Sea Events
UPDATE: SSMP Science Committee Meeting Set for December 1
The SSMP Science Committee will meet on December 1 for a virtual meeting on Zoom. The Committee will present a public update on the Monitoring Implementation Plan and provide informational background on the Monitoring and Adaptive Management Plan (MAMP) for the SSMP’s SCH Project.
This meeting will be recorded and uploaded to the SSMP website. Spanish Interpretation will be available. Habrá interpretación en español.
The Science Committee provides scientific review of various plans being developed for resource management at the Salton Sea. The committee is composed of scientists with specialized expertise in key resources (hydrology and water quality, geography, air quality, biological resources, and socioeconomics) related to the Salton Sea and/or experience with the application of scientific data to environmental management.
SSMP Update Community Meeting set for December 7
The SSMP team will provide an informational program update on a hybrid meeting on December 7 at 5:30 p.m. Attendees may participate in person at Calipatria High School Library located at 601 W Main St, Calipatria, CA 92233, or join virtually using the following link: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/81967335579
SSMP Update Community Meeting
When: Dec 7, 2022, 05:30 p.m. -7:30 p.m.
In person location: Calipatria High School Library, 601 W Main St, Calipatria, CA 92233
@CalNatResources Join us for the next Secretary Speaker Series: Strengthening Tribal Partnerships in Our Nature-Based Solutions Work. Secretary @WadeCrowfoot and panelists will discuss recent tribal-state collaborations and projections for future initiatives.
The Salton Sea e-Newsletter Update is issued the second week of each month to deliver up-to-date information on the Salton Sea Management Program. For questions or comments, please contact: Cnraemail@example.com.
To sign up to receive Salton Sea Community Updates, please click here.
California Natural Resources Agency
715 P Street
Sacramento, CA 95814
August 2022 – Bringing you timely and concise updates on the Salton Sea Management Program
Species Conservation Habitat Project is Now 60% Complete
Construction of the Saline Pump Station at the end of the Causeway is ongoing.
Major construction activities continue full steam ahead at the SSMP’s 4,100-acre Species Conservation Habitat (SCH) Project which is located at the southern end of the Salton Sea. The SCH project is the state’s first large-scale habitat restoration project that will create a network of ponds and provide important fish and bird habitat while also suppressing dust emissions to protect regional air quality.
Even as work continues, endangered desert pupfish and a broad range of bird species already are actively using the new habitat created with completion of the interception ditch last year.
The following are key recent accomplishments:
Project design has been completed and construction is 60% complete.
All perimeter berms of the habitat ponds are 90% complete.
Bird nesting and loafing Islands are 75% complete.
Work on the saline intake, northern berm, and New River intake are ongoing.
The project is on schedule and is expected to be completed in 2023
Forward Progress Continues on the Vegetation Enhancement Projects at the Salton Sea
This Iodine Bush seedling was planted last spring at the Clubhouse site. Iodine Bush is one of several plant species being planted to establish native desert vegetation communities.
In partnership with the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, the SSMP continues work on the three vegetation enhancement projects near communities around the Salton Sea. The projects cover approximately 1,700 acres and are located near the communities of Salton City and Bombay Beach. The projects aim to establish and enhance native vegetation on the exposed lakebed to create habitat for desert wildlife and reduce wind-blown dust.
These projects consist of initial physical site modification through placement of grass bales or construction of swales and berms to protect and facilitate plant growth and improve plant survival rates followed by seeding and/or planting of native vegetation. Three vegetation establishment methods will be used including natural recruitment, seeding, and planting.
Construction began in 2021 and initial bale placement and site modifications has been completed at the Clubhouse and West Bombay Beach sites. In addition, planting and seeding on approximately 35 acres was completed last spring at the Clubhouse site. Work at the Tule Wash project site began in July 2022. Planting and seeding are scheduled to restart this fall as the weather cools and will continue until vegetation communities are established across all three sites.
Upcoming SSMP Engagement Opportunities and Events
The SSMP continues to prioritize community involvement and meaningful community engagement in all its projects and processes. The team is coordinating public events to further inform the community about projects around the Salton Sea, transparency in plan development, as well as to create spaces for community members to familiarize themselves with the various processes that are part of the overall SSMP. Links to the meetings and other materials are uploaded to the SSMP website at www.saltonsea.ca.gov.
The SSMP team kindly invites you to join us in the upcoming engagement opportunities:
August 23, 2:30 p.m. Community Engagement Committee Meeting – Join Meeting
September 1, 5:30 p.m. SSMP Long Range Plan Community Workshop- Join Meeting
September 7, 9:30 a.m. Long-Range Plan Committee Meeting – Join Meeting
Salton Sea Independent Review Panel’s Status Update Meeting Set for September 30
The Independent Review Panel studying water importation concepts to restore California’s Salton Sea will be hosting a virtual public meeting on Friday, September 30. This meeting will present the results of the Feasibility Analysis and the Summary Report. Please be on the lookout for additional meeting information and documents.
Also: Upcoming SSMP Engagement Opportunities and Events; SSMP Community Engagement Committee to Meet on August 23; SSMP Community Workshop: Long Range Plan Workshop set for September 1; SSMP Long-Range Plan Committee to Meet on September 7
The SSMP team continues to place a strong focus on meaningful community engagement throughout the program. The team is coordinating public events to further inform the community about projects around the Salton Sea, as well as to create spaces for community members to familiarize themselves with the processes that are part of the SSMP’s Phase I: 10-Year Plan as well as the Long-Range Plan.
The following are upcoming SSMP engagement opportunities planned over the coming weeks.
SSMP Community Engagement Committee to Meet on August 23
The SSMP Community Engagement Committee will hold a virtual meeting on August 23 at 2:30 p.m.
SSMP Community Workshop: Long Range Plan Workshop set for September 1
The SSMP invites community members, and all interested parties to participate in a virtual Community Workshop on September 1. The team will provide updates on the Long-Range Plan and would like to receive your comments to help develop the Long-Range Plan.
Salton Sea Management Program Update – July 6, 2022
The Independent Review Panel evaluating proposals for water importation to the Salton Sea will provide an update and present its latest report on July 20, from 5:30 to 7:00 p.m. in a virtual Zoom meeting. The report summarizes de Panel’s fatal flaw analysis for the 13 submissions on water importation still under review.
The meeting will cover:
the Panel’s overall activities and where the fatal flaw analysis fits in;
the potential fatal flaws the Panel looked for in each submission;
Spanish interpretation will be available. Habrá interpretación en español.
The Salton Sea Management Program contracted the University of California, Santa Cruz to establish the Panel and provide research and analytical support. The Panel is tasked with studying submissions to determine whether water importation to the Salton Sea is feasible as part of a long-range plan for the Sea.
The Long Range Plan Committee will meet on Wednesday, July 6, from 9:30 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. for a virtual meeting on Zoom to discuss updates and get feedback on the development of the Long-Range Plan. This meeting will be open to the public and are encouraged to participate during the public comment period.
As the federal lead agency, the Corps has prepared the Draft EA to analyze and disclose the effects of implementing the SSMP’s 10-Year Plan, pursuant to the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). The SSMP 10-Year Plan proposes to implement a total of 29,800 acres of dust suppression and aquatic habitat restoration projects around the perimeter of the Salton Sea. At least 50 percent of the project acreage will be created as habitat for fish and wildlife that depend on the Salton Sea ecosystem and the remainder will be projects to suppress dust. Additionally, the Draft EA includes and evaluates actions by several federal agencies.
Public comments can be submitted on the Draft EA and proposed Letter of Permission procedures electronically to: firstname.lastname@example.org until 5:00pm (PST) on July 21, 2022.
In addition, the Corps will host three virtual public meetings to receive comments on the Draft EA and the Letter of Permission Procedures on the following dates and times:
July 7: 1 to 3 p.m. and 6 to 8 p.m.
July 12: 6 to 8 p.m.
Each of the three meetings will be the same and allow community members and stakeholders to provide input and official comments that will help shape the federal decision as to which projects are implemented, what community amenities are included, how potential environmental effects are addressed, and the proposed alternatives to be considered.
This vitally important comment period is your opportunity to help shape the projects coming to the Salton Sea as part of the SSMP’s 10-year Plan.
Spanish interpretation will be provided. Habrá interpretación al español.
The committee meets regularly to coordinate outreach and engagement strategies for upcoming public community meetings. The state’s Salton Sea team collaborates with the Community Engagement Committee to ensure that proper and effective outreach methods are intentionally used to reach and engage the frontline communities of the Salton Sea region.
The Salton Sea Management Program team will host a public workshop to provide an overview of the Long-Range Plan process, the initial suit of restoration concepts, and the evaluation criteria that will be used to help guide the development of the Long-Range Plan.
Message from Wade Crowfoot, Secretary, Natural Resources Agency
The California Natural Resources Agency is committed to improving conditions for the people who live near the Salton Sea. We are working with our federal, state and local partners to accelerate progress on the Salton Sea Management Program’s 10-year plan. We support a transparent process with clearly defined goals and measurable objectives aligned with available fiscal and hydrological resources. Progress made by the program is overseen by the State Water Resources Control Board and the California Air Resources Board.
Please sign up to receive regular email updates about the Salton Sea Management Program.