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

State Requests Proposals for Water Importation Independent Review Panel

Salton Sea Management Program Update – June 30, 2020

Also: CDFW Seeks Applicants for Environmental Scientist for SSMP; Legislature Approves Budget with 10 New Positions for the SSMP, Funding for North Lake Pilot Project and New River Improvements

The Department of Water Resources is seeking qualified applicants to provide independent third-party evaluation services and a feasibility analysis in support of the state’s long-term planning for the Salton Sea Management Program.

DWR has issued a Request for Proposals (RFP) to enlist and facilitate an independent team or panel to evaluate water importation proposals submitted to the state in 2018. The panel may also develop and implement a process to accept additional water importation proposals.

The objective of the RFP is to conduct a feasibility study of the proposals received in 2018 and to elucidate whether water importation to the Salton Sea is achievable. Interested entities have until July 27 to submit their application to the state.

In late 2017, the state released a call for innovative solutions to address the challenges associated with declining lake levels. Among those proposals received, 11 described various methods to import water to the Sea. In February 2020, the state released a Request for Proposals as a step toward enlisting an independent review panel to evaluate the water importation concepts. No proposals were submitted in that solicitation.

CDFW Seeks Applicants for Environmental Scientist for SSMP

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) is seeking applicants for the Salton Sea program Sr. Environmental Scientist (Specialist) or Environmental Scientist for its Bermuda Dunes office. The final filing date is July 3. The job announcement may be found at https://www.jobs.ca.gov/CalHrPublic/Jobs/JobPosting.aspx?JobControlId=189813.

The position may serve as scientific lead for the CDFW Salton Sea Program and identifies problems, develops courses of action, conducts critical scientific investigations, prepares guidance, policy, planning, and regulatory documents, and legislative proposals and analysis. Desirable candidates will have an understanding of natural resources, conservation, and environmental compliance and permitting laws, with desired knowledge of aquatic ecology, fisheries, water quality, habitat structure affecting fish and bird health and abundance, permitting, and/or environmental justice. The incumbent will work with other local, state and federal agencies, and the public to develop, implement, and monitor Salton Sea habitat projects and related activities.

Interested applicants should carefully read and follow all instructions for submitting their application.

Legislature Approves Budget with 10 New Positions for the SSMP, Funding for North Lake Pilot Project and New River Improvements

The Legislature has approved a 2020-21 state budget that authorizes 10 new positions for the SSMP, including six located at a local Salton Sea office and two at the Department of Fish and Wildlife’s Bermuda Dunes office. The positions would be within the Department of Water Resources, CDFW and the Natural Resources Agency.

The proposed budget also includes $19.3 million in Proposition 68 funding for the Salton Sea Authority to implement the North Lake Pilot Project. The funding would provide the Authority with its full allocation of Proposition 68 funding to continue work to address both habitat restoration and air quality impacts on surrounding communities.

The 156-acre pilot project located near the community of North Shore would create new deep-water habitat to replace the habitat lost as the Salton Sea recedes. It would also create shallow habitat that would suppress dust along over one mile of receding shoreline.

The budget also includes $28 million in funding for the New River Improvement Project, which aims to address pollution exposure challenges, create public health benefits and enhance access to green, healthy spaces for Calexico residents. The funding includes $18 million in one-time General Fund and $10 million from Proposition 68.

Governor Gavin Newsom signed the budget bills on June 29.

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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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