State Water Board Approves Agreement for Long-Term Management of Salton Sea

  • by Emily Allshouse
  • Nov 8, 2017
  • Water News

American white pelicans congregate at Red Hill Bay along the Salton Sea in Calipatria, located in Imperial County.  

The State Water Resources Control Board on Nov. 7 approved a multi-party agreement aimed at protect public health and critical Pacific flyway habitat by restoring and protecting the Salton Sea over the next 10 years.

The state’s Salton Sea Management Plan calls for the constructions of 29,800 acres of ponds, wetlands, and dust-suppression projects on portions of exposed lakebed. It also outlines restoration milestones during phase one and commits the state to creating a plan by 2022 to guide work beyond the initial 10 years.  Agreement on the plan was reached through discussions among the Imperial Irrigation District, Imperial County, San Diego County Water Authority, the California Natural Resources Agency, and other stakeholders.

The State Water Board’s Tuesday action revises a 2002 order requiring water transfer through 2017 in order to mitigate declining water levels in the Salton Sea. In accepting the agreement, the board also outlined its role in monitoring and ensuring progress for the state’s Salton Sea Management Plan, which will include holding a public meeting by March 31 of each year to hear reports on the previous year’s progress.

“Successful management of a smaller but sustainable Salton Sea requires active support and participation from local, state, and federal governing bodies,” said State Water Board Chair Felicia Marcus. “The annual milestones give us a roadmap to pick up the pace, and the annual public meeting will maintain transparency and keep a light shining on this hugely important effort and on all of us.”

The Natural Resources Agency applauded the State Water Board’s approval of the agreement in a statement released Tuesday afternoon.

The Natural Resources Agency estimates it will take $383 to complete the habitat and dust-suppression projects needed over the next decade

Existing funding for Salton Sea restoration efforts currently includes more than $80 million in Proposition 1 funds, a $14 million grant from the California Wildlife Conservation Board, and a $7.5 million U.S. Department of Agriculture grant. An addition $200 million in bond funds could be made available for Salton Sea projects if SB 5 (de León) is approved by voters in June 2018.

For more information on the Salton Sea Management Plan please visit the program website.

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