Improving Conditions at California’s Salton Sea

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 Sea recedes, previously submerged lakebed is being exposed, creating dust that can be hazardous as it dries and becomes airborne.

The California Natural Resources Agency, the California Department of Water Resources and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife are focused on implementing the Salton Sea Management Program, which includes a 10-year plan that aims to improve conditions by constructing 30,000 acres of habitat and dust suppression projects around the Sea.

Since early 2019, the State Team has significantly improved its capacity to deliver projects at the Sea. Informed by constructive input from community members, local leaders and interested groups, the team is working with partners to make substantial progress on the ground in 2020 to improve conditions for communities near the Sea. The state team also is working to improve transparency, engage community members in project planning and design, and incorporate local input in the SSMP project planning process.

News

Congressional Members Visit Salton Sea

Salton Sea Management Program Update – March 13, 2020

Also: Proposition 68 Grant Approved for Community-Based Project at Salton Sea State Recreation Area; State Water Board Postpones March 18 Workshop on SSMP Status; March 19 Engagement Committee Meeting Postponed; Revised Community Engagement Plan Available for Comment; Community Members Provide Input on Draft Dust Suppression Action Plan – Comments Accepted through March 27

Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur of Ohio and Congressman Raul Ruiz of California joined state, local and federal agency representatives for a visit to the Salton Sea on March 7.

It was the first visit to the Sea for Kaptur, who chairs the House Appropriations Committee’s Subcommittee on Energy and Water. The day included an overview of the Salton Sea Management Program and projects, including the Bruchard Road Dust Suppression Project completed in January and the 3,770-acre Species Conservation Habitat (SCH) project that will break ground later this year.

Stops included the North Shore Yacht Club, the Salton Sea State Recreation Area, Bombay Beach and the Sonny Bono Salton Sea National Wildlife Refuge.

“I am committed to bringing additional federal resources to the Salton Sea,” Ruiz said. “Last weekend’s meeting focused on working together to break ground on new projects at the Sea to improve the health and lives of people in the area and across Southern California. I’d like to thank Chairwoman Kaptur, California Deputy Secretary Gibson, Assistant Secretary Arturo Delgado and Salton Sea Authority Executive Director Phil Rosentrater for their hard work to make this happen.”

 

Proposition 68 Grant Approved for Community-Based Project at Salton Sea State Recreation Area

The Coachella Valley Mountains Conservancy has approved a Proposition 68 grant to support a community-based design project to refurbish the Salton Sea State Recreation Area. The project, proposed by Kounkuey Design Initiative (KDI) in cooperation with Alianza Coachella Valley, will identify near-term projects and create a vision for the future of the Recreation Area in partnership with California State Parks that provides culturally relevant programming and education and increased opportunity for resident involvement, creating the foundation for future project implementation.

The project, which will be completed over an 18-month period, will help create a more equitable, accessible and active Salton Sea State Recreation Area that extends park, recreation and environmental education options to the surrounding communities.

The Salton Sea Management Program team provided a letter of support for KDI’s grant application, which represents an important step forward in putting community projects on the ground at the Salton Sea. The $236,000 grant was approved at the Conservancy’s March 9 meeting.

 

State Water Board Postpones March 18 Workshop on SSMP Status

The State Water Resources Control Board has postponed the March 18 public workshop on the status of the Salton Sea Management Program (SSMP). Earlier this week, the State Water Board announced the workshop, originally set to take place in El Centro, would be moved to Sacramento in light of challenges associated with the novel coronavirus, also known as COVID-19.

On Friday, March 13, the State Water Board issued a notice saying the workshop will now be postponed to a future date at a location near the Salton Sea.

In advance of the workshop, the California Natural Resources Agency posted its 2020 Annual Report on the Salton Sea Management Program in February. The report provides a summary of recent and planned activities by the SSMP to address air quality and ecological threats at the Sea. It also summarizes planning activities, partnerships and community engagement efforts.

 

March 19 Engagement Committee Meeting Postponed; Revised Community Engagement Plan Available for Comment 

After conferring with Engagement Committee Co-Chairs Silvia Paz and Rebecca Terrazas-Baxter, the SSMP team has decided to postpone the March 19 SSMP Engagement Committee meeting in El Centro due to challenges associated with novel coronavirus, also known as COVID-19. The team hopes to reschedule the meeting in the near future.

In the meantime, a revised draft Community Engagement Plan is available for review and comment here. Any additional comments may be sent to cnra-saltonsea@resources.ca.gov.

The State team looks forward to receiving further input and discussing next steps with the Engagement Committee as soon as the coronavirus allows.

 

Community Members Provide Input on Draft Dust Suppression Action Plan; Comments Accepted through March 27

The Salton Sea Management Program held three public meetings this February and March in Westmorland, Bombay Beach and Thermal to gather community input on the State’s draft Dust Suppression Action Plan (DSAP). As part of the 10-Year Plan, the DSAP aims to identify and prioritize the implementation of approximately 8,200 acres of dust control projects at the sea by the end of 2022. The plan is based on extensive data from Imperial Irrigation District (IID) and will expedite projects through a streamlined planning and permitting process.

As part of this effort, the State has committed to a robust public engagement program to make the DSAP a community-driven plan. Public meetings held in December 2019 in Mecca and Salton City provided input on how dust affects local residents and the potential locations and methods for dust suppression projects. This feedback assisted the State in developing the draft DSAP that proposes to complete 3,800 acres of dust suppression projects by 2020 on lakebed sites that have the potential to be highly emissive. The community meetings were held in some of the communities closest to the proposed projects in the draft DSAP and resulted in additional feedback for the State planning team.

The presentation and handout from the community meetings will be available soon on the new SSMP website www.SaltonSea.ca.gov. Written comments on the draft plan will be accepted through March 27. Comments may be sent to cnra-saltonsea@resources.ca.gov. A final plan will be released by May and will serve as a “living document” that will be refined over time through monitoring and adaptative management, as well as continued engagement with the community.

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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.

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