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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SSMP Annual Report Submitted to State Water Board

Salton Sea Management Program Update – March 5, 2021

Also: Recruiting Program Manager for SSMP; SSMP Team Welcomes a New Team Member

The California Natural Resources Agency has submitted its Annual Report on the Salton Sea Management Program (SSMP) to the State Water Resources Control Board. The report and the status of the SSMP will be the focus of a March 17 public workshop convened by the State Water Board. The workshop begins at 2 p.m.

The report summarizes progress in 2020 toward reducing exposed lakebed and creating habitat at the Salton Sea. Highlights include completing 755 acres of interim dust suppression projects and launching construction of the state’s first large-scale project to create habitat and cover exposed lakebed – the 4,110-acre Species Conservation Habitat (SCH) Project along the south shore of the Salton Sea.

The SCH, enabled by land access and water use agreements with the Imperial Irrigation District, will create a network of ponds with islands and areas of varying water depths to provide important fish and bird habitat and suppress dust emissions to improve regional air quality as the Salton Sea recedes.

The report also looks forward to upcoming projects and milestones, including work to evaluate the feasibility of water importation as a long-term strategy for restoration of the Salton Sea.

Since California is not a significant landowner in the region, collaboration with land-owning entities is critical to future projects. As a result, the SSMP is prioritizing work to secure land access to construct additional projects in strategic locations along the perimeter of the Salton Sea.

Recruiting Program Manager for SSMP

The SSMP is opening the hiring process for another new position. Through the California Department of Water Resources, the SSMP is seeking a program manager to be located at the Salton Sea. Before applying to the upcoming position, interested parties must pass the Program Manager 1 exam by following the instructions included in the exam bulletin. The cut-off date for the exam is March 31 at 4:30 p.m. Please contact Selection Services with any questions, (916) 653-4838.

SSMP Team Welcomes a New Team Member

The SSMP has added a new team member with Jerald Kellum, who will serve as a Fish and Wildlife Technician with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. He is based out of the Imperial Wildlife Area in Imperial County.

Kellum is a Marine Corps veteran, who completed two combat deployments in Iraq.

He worked with Caltrans in the San Diego and Imperial Valley desert region as a highway worker and equipment operator for more than a decade.

Kellum holds a bachelor’s degree in human services and is currently working on a master’s degree.

With expanded staffing, and the expected addition of more positions in 2021, the SSMP team is building capacity to meet the growing demands of existing projects and those planned for the future.

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Construction Begins on Key Salton Sea Habitat and Air Quality Project

Salton Sea Management Program Update – January 14, 2021

Also: Salton Sea Management Program Welcomes New Team Member; State Completes Additional Surface Roughening Work; Work Continues on SSMP Phase I: 10-Year Plan Environmental Assessment

In a key step to improve conditions at the Salton Sea, construction began this week on the state’s first large-scale project to create habitat and reduce exposed lakebed around the Sea.

Heavy equipmentThe Species Conservation Habitat (SCH) project, located at the southern end of the Sea on both sides of the New River, will create a network of ponds and wetlands to provide important fish and bird habitat and suppress dust emissions to improve regional air quality as the Salton Sea recedes. The SCH project will cover approximately 4,110 acres, an increase over the previously estimated 3,770 acres due to an updated design. Construction is expected to continue through the end of 2023.

Following initial onsite work in late fall, the state’s design-build contractor, Kiewit Infrastructure West Co., this week began clearing vegetation and constructing an interception ditch to drain the site. The contractor also began construction of a southern habitat berm.

“Beginning actual construction on this large project represents important progress,” California Secretary for Natural Resources Wade Crowfoot said. “It is only possible thanks to strong coordination with our local, state and federal partners, including Imperial Irrigation District, Imperial County, the Imperial County Air Pollution Control District, the Colorado River Regional Water Quality Control Board, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Obviously, much more work lies ahead. We need to continue to deliver projects on the ground that improve conditions at the Salton Sea for residents as well as for wildlife.”

Heavy EquipmentThe SCH project anchors phase one of the state’s Salton Sea Management Program, which centers on constructing wetlands and other projects to limit exposed lakebed, reduce airborne dust and restore environmental habitat on 30,000 acres around the Sea. The SCH is a $206.5 million investment in Imperial County that will create as many as 3,000 jobs.

After obtaining site access to the SCH area in May 2019, the state team launched the contracting process and executed a design-build contract to Kiewit in September. This design-build process, which expedites delivery of the project, was made possible through 2016 legislation supported by Assemblymember Eduardo Garcia and Senator Ben Hueso. State agencies also executed a water use agreement with Imperial Irrigation District to enable the project.

Though the construction site is not open to the public due to COVID-19 restrictions, the state team will share images of the project as construction advances on the state’s Salton Sea Management Program website.

Salton Sea Management Program Welcomes New Team Member

Tonya MarshallThe California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) is pleased to announce the return of Tonya Marshall to the department as a senior environmental scientist (supervisory) for the SSMP. Marshall has over 12 years’ experience working for state agencies, including almost six years as a supervisor for CDFW’s Regional Habitat Conservation Planning and Renewable Energy programs for the Inland Deserts Region. She started on January 4 and is based in Riverside County.

Marshall graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Biology (Conservation) from the University of California, Riverside, and holds a Professional Certification in Environmental Leadership from California State University of San Marcos at the Temecula campus. Her work has involved permitting, surveying, managing watershed and large-scale renewable energy projects, and conducting biological analysis in support of environmental compliance. Her background in biology and environmental compliance will be a strong asset to the program.

Additionally, the Department of Water Resources will soon advertise for a Career Executive Appointment position in Sacramento and five engineering and science positions that will be located in Imperial and Riverside counties. The advertisement will occur during the first quarter of 2021 and more information will follow soon. The California Natural Resources Agency also is the hiring process for a Program Manager II and Information Officer. CDFW is in the hiring process for a Fish and Wildlife Technician to be located in Imperial County.

State Completes Additional Surface Roughening Work

The SSMP team completed approximately 700 acres of temporary surface roughening projects at the southern end of the Salton Sea in 2020 as an interim proactive measure to treat areas of exposed lakebed with emissivity potential due to dropping sea levels. Work completed included the 112-acre Bruchard Road Dust Suppression Project (January 2020), the 306-acre New River East Project (November 2020) and the 280-acre New River West Project (December 2020). The three temporary surface roughening projects were located within the footprint of the SCH project and will be inundated with water upon the completion of the SCH project.

Work Continues on SSMP Phase I: 10-Year Plan Environmental Assessment

The SSMP team expects to begin the formal scoping process for the Phase I: 10-Year Plan under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). Incorporating input received at three September community workshops and written comments from the public, the team is completing an application package to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) for permitting under the Clean Water Act and environmental compliance under NEPA.

The Corps will be the lead agency for NEPA. The draft Environmental Assessment, targeted for release this spring, will analyze approximately 30,000 acres of aquatic habitat and dust suppression projects proposed under the plan, such as  the proposed North Lake Demonstration Project (in partnership with the Salton Sea Authority and the County of Riverside), the Desert Shores Channel Restoration Project (in partnership with the Imperial County Air Pollution Control District), and Audubon’s Bombay Beach Wetland Restoration Project.

A final Environmental Assessment is targeted for fall 2021.

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Secretary Crowfoot, State Water Board Chair Esquivel Testify at Congressional Hearing on Federal Support for Salton Sea Projects

Salton Sea Management Program Update – September 29, 2020

Also: Salton Sea Management Program Seeks Applicants for Five Positions in Riverside and Imperial Counties

Natural Resources Secretary Wade Crowfoot and State Water Resources Control Board Chair Joaquin Esquivel testified before the U.S. House Natural Resources Committee’s Subcommittee on Water, Oceans and Wildlife at a virtual hearing September 24 on federal and state efforts to improve conditions at the Salton Sea.

The hearing focused on ways the federal government can partner with California to invest resources and advance efforts to address air quality impacts and loss of habitat as the Salton Sea recedes and lakebed continues to be exposed.

In his testimony, Secretary Crowfoot emphasized that the federal government – as a major landowner at the Sea – has a critical partnership role to play and urged federal agencies to expand investments at the Sea and support the state’s efforts by expediting permit reviews and approvals for state-led projects.

Chair Esquivel recounted some events and commitments since signing of the 2003 Quantification Settlement Agreement regarding California’s use of Colorado River water and outlined some recommended steps the federal government can take to help aid California’s efforts in improving conditions at the Sea.

Thomas Tortez, Jr., tribal council chairman for the Torres Martinez Desert Cahuilla and Salton Sea Authority director, also testified at the hearing.

Written testimony and a video recording of the hearing can be found at this link https://naturalresources.house.gov/hearings/federal-and-state-efforts-to-restore-the-salton-sea.

Salton Sea Management Program Seeks Applicants for Five Positions in Riverside and Imperial Counties

The Salton Sea Management Program (SSMP) team is currently recruiting candidates to fill four new positions and one existing vacancy located near the Salton Sea in Riverside and Imperial Counties. The four new posts are among 10 new full-time staff positions for the SSMP authorized in the 2020-21 state budget. The positions are housed within the California Natural Resources Agency (CNRA), the Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) and the Department of Water Resources (DWR).

Within CNRA, applicants are being sought for a new Deputy Assistant Secretary (Program Manager II) position, based in Riverside County, that will provide leadership and coordination on the SSMP and represent CNRA and Administration policies with the public and stakeholder groups and interface with federal, state and local agencies, boards, elected officials and tribal governments. The final filing date is October 5. The job announcement may be found at https://jobs.ca.gov/CalHrPublic/Jobs/JobPosting.aspx?JobControlId=217501.

CNRA also is seeking candidates for a new Public Information Officer II position that will be based in Imperial County and lead a new SSMP Office of Outreach and Communication in close coordination with DWR and DFW. Community engagement and outreach will be a key focus. The final filing date is October 5, and the announcement may be found at https://jobs.ca.gov/CalHrPublic/Jobs/JobPosting.aspx?JobControlId=217898.

CDFW is seeking applicants for two new positions with the Salton Sea program. A Senior Environmental Scientist (Supervisory) position, based in Riverside County, will supervise SSMP staff and help implement the SSMP Phase 1: 10-Year Plan, including the Species Conservation Habitat (SCH) project and dust suppression and habitat creation activities. The final filing date is October 15, and the job announcement may be found at https://www.jobs.ca.gov/CalHrPublic/Jobs/JobPosting.aspx?JobControlId=217728.

CDFW also is recruiting for a Fish and Wildlife Technician position to be based in Imperial County. The position is responsible for day-to-day workings of the program including vehicle and equipment operation and maintenance, and assisting with fish and wildlife surveying. The final filing date is October 18, and the job announcement may be found at https://www.jobs.ca.gov/CalHrPublic/Jobs/JobPosting.aspx?JobControlId=217599.

DWR is seeking applicants for an existing Program Manager I position to be based in Riverside County. The position may serve as Program Manager lead for the DWR Salton Sea Program and will support implementation of SSMP projects at the Salton Sea. The final filing date is October 2, and the job announcement may be found at https://www.jobs.ca.gov/CalHrPublic/Jobs/JobPosting.aspx?JobControlId=212861.

Interested applicants are encouraged to carefully read and follow all instructions for submitting their application.

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DWR Executes Design-Build Contract with Kiewit for SCH Project

Salton Sea Management Program Update – September 14, 2020

Also: Save the Date: Next SSMP Engagement Committee Meeting Set for September 30; Community Input Sought for SSMP Projects; Virtual Public Workshops Set for September 22, 23 and 24

In a key step for the Salton Sea Management Program (SSMP), the Department of Water Resources last week finalized the design-build contract with Kiewit Infrastructure West Co. for the Species Conservation Habitat (SCH) project. Design and construction of the SCH Project is expected to begin in fall 2020.

“We are pleased to see this critical project take a major step forward with the signing of this contract,” said Arturo Delgado, Assistant Secretary for Salton Sea Policy at the California Natural Resources Agency. “The state team is eager to get projects on the ground that will improve conditions at the Salton Sea for residents of surrounding communities as well as for wildlife.”

Located at the southern end of the Sea along both sides of the New River, the 3,770-acre SCH project is aimed at creating habitat and suppressing dust to prevent further degradation of air quality.

The SCH anchors phase one of the SSMP, which focuses on constructing wetlands and other projects to reduce exposed lakebed and health hazards posed by airborne dust from exposed lakebed.

Save the Date: Next SSMP Engagement Committee Meeting Set for September 30

The Salton Sea Management Program’s Engagement Committee will hold a virtual meeting from 2:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Wednesday, September 30, via Zoom. Registration information, meeting agenda and materials will be available soon at  http://saltonsea.ca.gov/.

The Engagement Committee is co-chaired by Rebecca Terrazas-Baxter, intergovernmental relations director for Imperial County, and Silvia Paz, executive director of Alianza Coachella Valley.

Community Input Sought for SSMP Projects; Virtual Public Workshops Set for September 22, 23 and 24

The SSMP team will hold a series of three virtual public workshops this month to seek community input on the draft Project Description for the SSMP Phase I: 10-Year Plan. The draft Project Description identifies habitat restoration and dust suppression projects around the Sea to revitalize the environment and protect public health.

The workshops will solicit input on the draft Project Description goals and objectives as well as the sizes, locations and types of projects being proposed and anticipated impacts. The State is also seeking feedback on how the public would like to access the Sea and what compatible community amenities should be prioritized. The input acquired will help inform the development of a range of alternatives for approximately 30,000 acres of projects that will be part of a forthcoming larger Environmental Assessment in accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).

The public workshops will be hosted via Zoom online and by phone on three different dates:

Tuesday, Sept. 22
1 p.m. – 3 p.m.

Zoom Link: https://ca-water-gov.zoom.us/j/98237992567

Teleconference Number for English (Toll-free): 888-278-0296
Access code: 596019
Teleconference Number for Spanish: 888-363-4734
Access Code: 1738252

Wednesday, Sept. 23
6 p.m. – 8 p.m.

Zoom Link: https://ca-water-gov.zoom.us/j/93711314339

Teleconference Number for English (Toll-free): 888-278-0296
Access code: 596019
Teleconference Number for Spanish: 888-363-4734
Access Code: 1738252

Thursday, Sept. 24
6 p.m. – 8 p.m.

Zoom Link: https://ca-water-gov.zoom.us/j/93711314339

Teleconference Number for English (Toll-free): 888-278-0296
Access code: 596019
Teleconference Number for Spanish: 888-363-4734
Access Code: 1738252

The workshops will have simultaneous translation available from English to Spanish and vice-versa. Agenda and meeting materials will be available soon at the Salton Sea website at https://saltonsea.ca.gov/ssmp-draft-description-project/.

In addition to the public workshops, written comments on the Project Description will be accepted through Sept. 30 at cnra-saltonsea@resources.ca.gov.

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Community Input Sought for Habitat Restoration and Dust Suppression Projects at Salton Sea

Virtual Workshops to be Held on Newly Released Draft Project Description to Revitalize Environment and Protect Public Health

SACRAMENTO – The California Natural Resources Agency (CNRA) has released a draft Project Description for the Salton Sea Management Program Phase I: 10-Year Plan and announced a series of three virtual public workshops for community input.

The draft Project Description identifies habitat restoration and dust suppression projects around the Sea to revitalize the environment and protect public health.

The workshops will solicit input on the draft Project Description goals and objectives as well as the sizes, locations, and types of projects being proposed and anticipated impacts. The State is also seeking feedback as to how the public would like to access the Sea and what compatible community amenities should be prioritized.

The input acquired will help inform the development of a range of alternatives for approximately 30,000 acres of projects that will be part of a forthcoming larger Environmental Assessment in accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).

The public workshops will be hosted via Zoom online and by phone on three different dates:

Tuesday, Sept. 22
1 p.m. – 3 p.m.

Wednesday, Sept. 23
6 p.m. – 8 p.m.

Thursday, Sept. 24
6 p.m. – 8 p.m.

The workshops will have simultaneous translation available from English to Spanish and vice-versa. More information, Zoom link and meeting materials will be available soon at the Salton Sea website at https://saltonsea.ca.gov/planning/ssmp-draft-description-project/.

In addition to the public workshops, written comments on the Project Description will be accepted through Sept. 30 at cnra-saltonsea@resources.ca.gov.

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MOU Signed on Desert Shores Project; SSMP Team to Provide Update at August 19 Water Board Workshop

Salton Sea Management Program Update – August 18, 2020

MOU Signed on Desert Shores Project

The California Natural Resources Agency (CNRA) and the Imperial County Air Pollution Control District (ICAPCD) have signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) documenting their intent to coordinate and collaborate on the Desert Shores Channel Restoration Project.

The project aims to improve air quality by refilling channels located between residences on the Salton Sea shoreline in the disadvantaged community of Desert Shores. ICAPCD will lead efforts to plan the project. It will also lead outreach and communication efforts, in coordination with CNRA.

Under the MOU, CNRA will analyze and document the project’s public benefits as part of a National Environmental Policy Act environmental analysis for the Salton Sea Management Program (SSMP) Phase 1: 10-Year Plan and as required for funding under the SSMP.

If CNRA determines the project is not eligible for funding under the SSMP, CNRA will assist the ICAPCD in identifying potential alternative funding sources, if requested by the ICAPCD.

The MOU is available on the state’s Salton Sea website.

SSMP Team to Provide Update at August 19 Water Board Workshop

The SSMP team will provide an update on the status of program implementation at an August 19 workshop of the State Water Resources Control Board. The annual workshop, originally scheduled for March 18 in El Centro, was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The August 19 workshop will be held virtually with remote participation from the state team. Additional details and information on how interested parties can virtually participate in the workshop can be found on the State Water Board website.

CNRA 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.

A recent letter with additional activities since the report’s release can be found on the SSMP website.

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DWR Selects Design-Build Contractor for SCH Project

Salton Sea Management Program Update – August 5, 2020

Also: Updated Dust Suppression Action Plan Released; Projects to Get Underway Later this Summer

The Department of Water Resources has completed the evaluation of proposals for the Species Conservation Habitat (SCH) project and Kiewit Infrastructure West Co. has been selected as the best-value design-build entity. Kiewit Infrastructure West Co. and DWR are in the process of finalizing the contract.

Design and construction of the SCH Project is expected to begin in Fall 2020.
“Kiewit is proud to be selected as the contractor for the Salton Sea project,” said Jamie Wisenbaker, Senior Vice President for Kiewit Infrastructure West Co. “This critical project will improve the Salton Sea environment for wildlife, the residents of the area and the State of California.”

Located at the southern end of the sea along both sides of the New River, the 3,770-acre SCH project is aimed at creating habitat and suppressing dust to prevent further degradation of air quality.

The SCH anchors phase one of the SSMP, which focuses on constructing wetlands and other projects to reduce exposed lakebed and health hazards posed by airborne dust from exposed lakebed.

Updated Dust Suppression Action Plan Released; Projects to Get Underway Later this Summer

Cover of DSAPThe Salton Sea Management Program (SSMP) team has issued an updated Dust Suppression Action Plan to guide expedited implementation of dust suppression and associated habitat projects around the sea.

The proposed projects are intended to meet the goals of the SSMP and specific annual acreage targets outlined in State Water Resources Control Board Order WR 2017-0134.

The DSAP is a flexible working plan that outlines the actions the SSMP proposes to take to develop and implement dust suppression projects across nine project areas around the perimeter of the Salton Sea, to be constructed between 2020 and 2022. These projects will improve public health and respond to the COVID-19 emergency by improving air quality in the region.

The DSAP identifies and prioritizes a planning area of approximately 9,800 acres based on the best available scientific data, proximity to populated areas, ease of securing landowner access and environmental permitting, sites with potential availability of short- and long-term water supplies, and information obtained through public input.

The SSMP team held public meetings in February and March in Westmorland, Bombay Beach and Torres Martinez Reservation to gather community input on the initial draft DSAP. Public meetings held in December 2019 in Mecca and Salton City also provided input on how dust affects local residents and the potential locations and methods for dust suppression projects. The community meetings were held in some of the communities closest to the project areas identified in the draft DSAP and resulted in additional feedback for the SSMP planning team. Written comments from the public were accepted through March 27.

The SSMP team also completed tribal consultation on an administrative draft plan on July 24.

The plan outlines the steps needed to transition from concept to on-the-ground implementation starting in 2020. Some projects are proposed to be located on federal lands, and additional tribal consultation is expected to occur at the project level for those locations through the National Environmental Policy Act compliance process.

The first project sites are located within the footprint of the Species Conservation Habitat project. The SSMP is proactively implementing temporary dust control measures at this site prior to the start of construction of the habitat ponds due to the potential for emissivity within portions of the project area. This project is proposed to cover up to 1,900 acres and is planned to start upon final regulatory approval.

The updated plan 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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