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 Salton Sea recedes, previously submerged lakebed is being exposed, creating dust that is of concern to local communities.

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 (SSMP), 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.

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.

News

UC Santa Cruz to Conduct Independent Feasibility Assessment of Water Importation Strategies for the Salton Sea

Salton Sea Management Program Update – April 6, 2021

Also: Now in Spanish, the Executive Summary of the SSMP Annual Report; SSMP Seeks Applicants for an Assistant Deputy Director

The Salton Sea Management Program is finalizing a contract with the University of California, Santa Cruz to perform an independent feasibility assessment of water importation strategies for the Salton Sea.

Photo of sign for UCSCUC Santa Cruz will convene an independent expert panel to review 11 water importation concepts submitted to the state in 2018, assess their technical and economic feasibility, and evaluate the overall viability of water importation as a long-term strategy for restoration of the Salton Sea. The panel will be supported by an analytical team led by Dr. Brent Haddad, professor of environmental studies at UC Santa Cruz.

The work is expected to get underway by June 1 of this year and conclude by the summer of 2022.

“UC Santa Cruz has significant experience facilitating independent technical panels, and we are excited with the multidisciplinary approach they will take on this project,” said Arturo Delgado, Assistant Secretary for Salton Sea Policy at the California Natural Resources Agency. “We look forward to getting them officially on board so this work can get underway.”

One of the first tasks for UC Santa Cruz will be to develop a detailed work plan for performing the feasibility assessment. Further details will be available in coming weeks.

The feasibility analysis of water importation concepts will be a key input for the long-range plan the SSMP is required to develop and submit to the State Water Resources Control Board. Public engagement to launch development of the long-range plan will begin—concurrently with the independent review of water importation proposals—in the coming months.

The long-range plan, which is due by the end of 2022, will establish a strategy for long-term restoration of the Salton Sea beyond the SSMP’s Phase I: 10-Year Plan currently being implemented. Options evaluated to inform the long-range plan will include project build-out based on projected future water inflows within the Salton Sea watershed, as well as water importation for a whole-Sea alternative if importation is found to be feasible

Now in Spanish, the Executive Summary of the SSMP Annual Report

Image of sidebar linkThe executive summary of the 2021 Annual Report on the Salton Sea Management Program is now available in Spanish. Find the Informe anual 2021 resumen ejecutivo on the SSMP home page along with other updates and recent documents. A Spanish translation of the full report is expected soon.

SSMP Seeks Applicants for an Assistant Deputy Director

The Department of Water Resources (DWR) is seeking an Assistant Deputy Director for the Salton Sea Restoration Program.

The Assistant Deputy Director will develop and lead the DWR’s Salton Sea team, deliver wetland and dust suppression projects in coordination with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife and the California Natural Resources Agency, coordinate across local, state, and federal agencies to support the state’s legal commitments to Salton Sea restoration.

Find information and instructions for applying at the CalCareer website: https://www.calcareers.ca.gov/CalHrPublic/Jobs/JobPosting.aspx?JobControlId=245144

If you have questions, please contact Myra Galvez of DWR at (916) 653-8735.

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State Water Board Workshop on SSMP Rescheduled to April 7

March 12, 2021

The State Water Resources Control Board has rescheduled its public workshop on the Salton Sea Management Program (SSMP) to April 7. Please see the notice here. The workshop, originally set for March 17, was rescheduled to provide stakeholders additional time to review and provide comments on the California Natural Resources Agency’s SSMP annual report, available at:

https://saltonsea.ca.gov/annual-report-on-the-salton-sea-management-program/

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U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Launches NEPA and Permitting Process for Salton Sea Management Program Phase I: 10-Year Plan

Salton Sea Management Program Update – March 23, 2021

Also: Recruiting for Program Manager

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Los Angeles District (Corps) released a Public Notice today that initiates the Corps’ National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) review process for authorizing projects proposed by the Salton Sea Management Program Phase I: 10-year Plan. The Public Notice provides information on how to submit written comments, and may be viewed in both English and Spanish language versions at the website:

https://www.spl.usace.army.mil/Media/Public-Notices/Article/2540379/spl-2019-00951-kjd-salton-sea-management-program-ssmp-10-year-plan-projects-pro/

The Corps Public Notice describes the draft project description as addressing the 29,800 acres of habitat and dust suppression projects identified in the SSMP Phase I: 10-year Plan, including several proposed projects such as the North Lake Demonstration Project, a larger North Lake concept, the Desert Shores Channel Restoration Project, the Audubon Wetland Restoration Project, as well as a Watershed Plan component, and Dust Suppression Action Plan projects. At least 14,900 acres of SSMP 10-year Plan projects would be aquatic habitat restoration projects that convert exposed lakebed to either pond habitat suitable for fish and wildlife or to wetland habitats. Dust suppression projects would address fugitive dust emissions but may also have habitat benefits.  Many of the projects under consideration would require Federal agency authorizations, including permits from the Corps. 

The Corps is the lead Federal agency for the NEPA review process related to its permitting authority under Section 404 of the Clean Water Act.  The Corps invited other Federal agencies to participate as cooperating agencies in the preparation of an environmental assessment. To provide comments or request additional information, please follow the link above to the Corps public notice for further instructions.

Last fall, the SSMP team hosted three public workshops and a 30-day written comment period to solicit input to inform a revised project description, which was in turn submitted to the Corps to initiate the NEPA process.  Any prior comments received during the State’s public review, along with the current updated draft project description can be found at the SSMP website at https://saltonsea.ca.gov/planning/ssmp-draft-description-project/.

The Corps anticipates releasing its draft NEPA document for public review and comment this summer.

Recruiting Program Manager

The California Natural Resources Agency is seeking a Program Manager II, Deputy Assistant Secretary, Salton Sea Management Program to be located in Riverside County.

The final filing date for the position is March 25, 2021.

Find details about the position at https://www.calcareers.ca.gov/CalHrPublic/Jobs/JobPosting.aspx?JobControlId=225860.

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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.

Please sign up to receive regular email updates about the Salton Sea Management Program.