Samantha Arthur Appointed to Serve as Assistant Secretary for Salton Sea Policy
The SSMP is pleased to share that Governor Gavin Newsom has appointed Samantha Arthur to serve as the Assistant Secretary for Salton Sea Policy at the Natural Resources Agency. Arthur has served as Working Lands Director for Audubon California since 2019, and was Conservation Project Director there from 2016-2019 and Conservation Project Manager from 2014-2016. She is also a member of the California Water Commission.
Arthur is expected to officially join the team in late April.
“Samantha brings substantial experience planning and managing complex projects in California, particularly in the Central Valley, through her work with Audubon California. She understands state and federal processes and permitting agencies, and shares our passion and commitment to driving implementation of projects at the Salton Sea,” California Secretary for Natural Resources Wade Crowfoot said. “We look forward to integrating her into our team and continuing our work with partners to deliver on the state’s commitments at the Sea.”
SSMP Annual Report Submitted to State Water Board
The California Natural Resources Agency has submitted its 2023 Annual Report on the Salton Sea Management Program (SSMP) to the State Water Resources Control Board, prepared in compliance with Order WR 2017-0134.
The report summarizes progress in 2022 toward reducing exposed lakebed and creating habitat at the Salton Sea. Highlights include continuous work to deliver on the SSMP’s Phase-1: 10-Year Plan projects and taking steps toward programmatic access agreements with landowners to help accelerate dust suppression and aquatic habitat projects at the Sea. The largest restoration project in the Sea’s history – the Species Conservation Habitat project – completed major milestones in 2022 and remains on track for completion by the end of 2023. The SSMP also made progress on vegetation enhancement work at three sites around the Sea.
The report highlights development of the draft Long-Range Plan (LRP) with the support of Tribal leadership, community-based organizations and state, local, and federal agencies. The draft LRP was submitted as planned to the State Water Board in late 2022. The annual report also describes the cost-share agreement signed by the SSMP, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps), and the Salton Sea Authority to launch a federal feasibility study to identify and recommend projects and actions for the long-term restoration of the Sea. In June, the Corps released for public review and feedback the Draft Environmental Assessment (EA) for the Phase I: 10-Year Plan. The EA provides a broad umbrella for environmental compliance for a variety of SSMP Phase I: 10-year Plan projects, including ponds, wetlands, and dust suppression and vegetation enhancement projects around the Sea. Following receipt of public comments, the EA is being revised and is anticipated to be finalized in Spring 2023.
Through various opportunities, the team strengthened outreach and engagement with local communities so that local input can better shape the work of the SSMP. These opportunities included multiple public-facing meetings of the Community Engagement Committee, the Long-Range Plan Committee, the Science Committee, the Independent Review Panel for water importation proposals led by the University of Santa Cruz, and community-oriented meetings throughout the year. The team also continued working towards identifying community amenities and vital community infrastructure needs by engaging directly and on the ground with residents from the Salton Sea region to help inform a strategy document that will be completed in the coming months.
The annual report and the status of the SSMP will be the focus of a public workshop convened by the State Water Board in May 16 and 17. Workshop details are available on the State Water Board’s Salton Sea program webpage.
In addition, the SSMP team plans to hold a community workshop in advance of the State Water Board’s workshop to provide an overview of the report and answer questions. This meeting will occur on April 20, participants may join in person at Torres Martinez Desert Cahuilla Indians Tameka Gym, 66725 Martinez Road, Thermal, CA 92274; participate virtually by clicking here: http://bit.lySaltonSeaWorkshop; or by dialing (305) 226-1968. More information on this meeting is found below in this edition and the SSMP website.
UPDATED: Request For Qualifications for Salton Sea Management Program Technical Support
The Department of Water Resources (DWR), Division of Regional Assistance, invites qualified firms with extensive background in engineering and environmental services to support DWR in the conceptualization, design, environmental permit acquisition, construction, and monitoring of dust suppression and habitat restoration projects to submit a Statement of Qualifications (SOQ) to support the Salton Sea Management Program. The Contractor will provide expert technical advice and consultation in planning and project management support; environmental permitting and compliance support; agricultural and land use economic analysis; hydrodynamic, air quality, and ecological modeling; engineering design support; and environmental and design support during construction in support of DWR compliance with the California State Water Resources Control Board Order 2017-0134. Estimated Contract Amount $5,000,000 – $10,000,000.
This opportunity opened March 6 and will close on April 13, 2022. The anticipated length of term for this agreement is five years. To learn more about this opportunity visit: https://caleprocure.ca.gov/event/3860/10185861
SSMP Welcomes New Team Members
To continue delivering critical projects around the Salton Sea, the Salton Sea Management Program (SSMP) has filled two key vacancies at the California Department of Fish and Wildlife’s (CDFW) Salton Sea Program.
In March, Maria Davydova-Flores joined the CDFW as the Salton Sea Program’s new Senior Environmental Scientist Specialist, headquartered in the Bermuda Dunes field office.
Maria has a B.S. in Biology: Ecology, Evolution and Behavior from University of Texas at Austin. She has lived and worked here in Coachella Valley for the past ten years, working at the Colorado River Basin Regional Water Quality Control Board. Starting as a scientific aid in 2012 and promoting to environmental scientist two years later, Maria has obtained extensive knowledge of Salton Sea water quality issues and state and federal environmental regulations. Over the past eight years, Maria has gained vast experience working with Salton Sea communities and stakeholders as the Regional Water Board’s environmental justice coordinator, outreach coordinator, Tribal coordinator, and water quality standards planning coordinator.
She has been actively involved in the Salton Sea Management Program Community Engagement Committee since its very early days in 2016, when it was known as the Outreach Committee, where she took a leading role in planning and facilitating 2016 and 2017 community workshops. Maria is very excited to continue her involvement with the Salton Sea in her new role as the Salton Sea Regulatory Specialist.
Upcoming SSMP Engagement Opportunities
SSMP Community Engagement Committee to Meet on April 3
The SSMP Community Engagement Committee will meet on April 3 at 11:00 a.m. for a virtual meeting on Zoom. Spanish Interpretation will be available. Habrá interpretación en español.
SSMP Community Engagement Committee Meeting
Please click the link below to join the webinar: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/88412977625
Or dial: +16694449171
Webinar ID: 884 1297 7625
Join the SSMP Community Workshop on April 20
The SSMP team invites you to participate in its next SSMP Community Workshop on April 20 at 5:30 p.m. Attendees may participate in person or virtually and learn about projects underway and current planning efforts at the Sea; get an in-depth overview of the recently released 2023 SSMP Annual Report; and meet with members of the State’s Salton Sea team to ask questions and learn more about progress made at the Salton Sea during 2022.
Please join us in person at Torres Martinez Desert Cahuilla Indians Tameka Gym, 66725 Martinez Road, Thermal, CA 92274. Doors open at 5:00 p.m.
You may also participate virtually by clicking here: http://bit.ly/SaltonSeaWorkshop or by dialing (305) 226-1968.
Facebook Live in Spanish will also be broadcasted on the “Salton Sea COEE” page.
Spanish Interpretation will be available. Habrá interpretación en español. This meeting will be recorded and uploaded to the SSMP website.
State Water Board Salton Sea Workshop set for May 16 & 17
The State Water Board will be holding its annual workshop on the status of Phase 1 of the Salton Sea Management Program on May 16, 2023, from 12:00 p.m.-4:00 p.m., and May 17, 2023, from 5:00 p.m.-9:00 p.m.
The meeting will take place over two days and will provide live interpretation in Spanish, with multiple options for participation: 1) in-person at Imperial Valley College, 2) remote viewing at the North Shore Beach and Yacht Club, and 3) virtually via Zoom (to provide comment) or webcast (watch-only).
Every year, the California Natural Resources Agency provides an update to the State Water Board and interested parties on the progress that has been made on the Salton Sea Management Program. The workshop is an opportunity for participants to provide input to the State Water Board regarding the status of the Salton Sea Management Program. Input can be provided by submitting written comments in advance or providing oral comments on either day of the workshop.
Read the public notice and learn more about the Salton Sea and how to participate in the workshop at waterboards.ca.gov/saltonsea. For questions about the workshop contact Stephanie Holstege at Stephanie.Holstege@waterboards.ca.gov.