As Salton Sea faces ecological collapse, a plan to save it with ocean water is rejected
The Salton Sea is the largest, most biologically productive and ecologically diverse body of water in the western United States.
In 1976, it was home to the Great Salton Sea, a lake that was roughly equal in size to Lake Superior and home to millions of gallons of fish and other wildlife.
Its unique ecosystems were destroyed in the 1980’s when Colorado and Mexico dug ditches to divert water into the Sea. The ditch project removed the natural headwaters for two of the largest rivers on the West Coast. In 1987, the Colorado River Aqueduct completed this destruction.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) rejected a plan for the Salton Sea to use an alternative water source.
Salton Sea is a unique body of water surrounded by a man-made barrier that is not expected to be breached for another 90 years. Only 2.8 million acre feet (4%) of the Sea’s total storage capacity is for irrigation. It is a very small portion of its total storage capacity.
The USACE’s rejection of the water plan proposed by the Salton Sea Alliance is a grave mistake that will have catastrophic effects on the Sea’s ecosystems if allowed to stand.
It was not just a technical decision. It has devastating consequences for Salton Sea ecology and, ultimately, the ecology of all of America’s major bodies of water.
The Salton Sea Alliance had the support of the California Water Action Team and the U.S. Forest Service, who had concerns about the project’s environmental impact.
However, the USACE made the decision to reject the water plan.
“We were disappointed to learn that the federal government has decided not to proceed with its ‘land grab’ effort at Salton Sea and its related projects,” said David Grinslick, president of the Alliance.
In his letter to EPA Region