SSMP e-Newsletter – June 2023

SSMP Community Engagement

High School Students Visit Project at the Salton Sea

Group of Students at Causeway at the SCH Project

Young leaders from the Youth Environmental Health Internship (YEHI), a program led by Comité Cívico del Valle, visited the Species Conservation Habitat Project (SCH). Students from different high schools toured the project site to learn how it helps protect public health by suppressing dust from the 4,100-acres project area. Salton Sea Management Program staff shared SCH project features that will mix water from the Salton Sea and New River and then spread it over exposed lakebed to suppress dust and provide habitat for the Desert Pupfish and migratory birds on the Pacific Flyway.

“I genuinely wish we knew more about this in our education system, because it impacts our health in the here and now,” said Terry Partida Rodriguez, a 12th grade student (recent graduate) from Brawley Union High School. “I think this was a great opportunity to learn more about the Salton Sea Management Program and to really see what they’re doing. I hope more people get the opportunity to get involved with the environment just like us!”

Group listening to details about the SCH Project

“I found the project fascinating and as an eye-opening experience because many people in the Imperial Valley don’t realize how much diversity we have,” said Fernanda Cruz, a YEHI intern and 10th grade student from Calexico High School. “The Imperial Valley can be perceived as a place with low biodiversity where we hardly see any species, however, that’s not the case. The SCH plans to recreate a large ecosystem for multiple species found in the area by combining water from the New River with water from the Salton Sea.”

Public Affairs Officer going over details about the New River Diversion structure

On schedule for completion in 2023, the 4,100-acre SCH is the first of many projects the SSMP team is implementing as part of the SSMP Phase 1: 10-Year Plan.

Recap on 2023 State Water Board Salton Sea Workshop

The State Water Resources Control Board held its Annual Salton Sea Workshop on May 16 and May 17 at Imperial Valley College. A remote viewing location at the North Shore Beach and Yacht Club and a virtual viewing option were also provided. The public workshop included presentations and updates from multiple agencies and organizations working towards improving conditions at the Sea. Presentations included an overview of the Water Board’s role, an update from the SSMP, an overview of the Monitoring Implementation Plan, an overview of the Community Needs Strategy, a recap of the Salton Sea Long-Range Plan, and an overview of the Salton Sea Feasibility Study being led by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. To enrich the conversations, the workshop also included panels with experts in different realms. The panels included discussions on hydrology and the Colorado River drought, habitat and wildlife, air quality and public health, water quality, and community voices and projects.

SSMP Team presenting at Water Board meetingThe SSMP team appreciates feedback received from meeting participants, presenters, and attendees. The SSMP would especially like to thank the Water Board for providing an opportunity to report on major milestones achieved in 2022, share more about upcoming projects, address relevant challenges for project delivery, and reiterate the State’s commitment to meeting the acreage goals to suppress dust emissions and improve ecological conditions at the Sea.

Water Board members and the public provided important feedback and recommendations to the SSMP team during the public workshop. Recommendations included providing more clarity to tables and graphics to report on progress achieved, updating the SSMP website to create a better user experience, and including a project visualization tool to find relevant updates for SSMP projects. The SSMP team has taken plenty of notes and will work to deliver on the recommendations to help contribute to the transparency and the clarity of the program.

The meeting recordings are now available at the Water Boards’ Salton Sea website.


Employee Spotlight: Samantha Arthur

Portrait of Samantha ArthurThe 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 Samantha Arthur in the spotlight to share more about her important work, as part of the SSMP Team.

Samantha is the Assistant Secretary for Salton Sea Policy at the California Natural Resources Agency for the for the Salton Sea Management Program. She has been serving in this role since April of 2023.

  • Hi Sam, can you tell us a bit more about your role at the SSMP?

As Assistant Secretary for Salton Sea Policy at the California Natural Resources Agency, I lead the Salton Sea Management Program to address air quality and ecological threats at the Salton Sea. My charge is to carry out the Newsom Administration’s goal to stabilize the Salton Sea and restore nearly 30,000 acres of exposed lakebed to suppress dust and create habitat.

  • What part of your job do you enjoy the most?

I enjoy working with such a wide range of people at the Salton Sea, including local community members, community-based organizations, local elected representatives, water districts, and federal agencies. In my first two months in this role, I’ve been struck by the dedication and passion of community members, agency partners and SSMP staff.

  • What inspired you to seek a career in conservation and ecological restoration?

My most treasured experiences and memories are time spent with family and friends outdoors, whether its sports at a local park or camping in a remote wilderness. I think this must be what drew me to a career at the intersection of people and nature. I’ve continued pursue work in conservation and restoration for the opportunity to improve the wellbeing of people and ecosystems and for the challenge of working across diverse perspectives to develop durable change.  

  • What is your vision for the future of the Salton Sea?

I envision improved air quality, improved habitat for birds and fish, and improved quality of life for folks living in shoreline communities, and Coachella and Imperial Valleys.