14 Apr 2009

Whose Money for the Salton Sea?

In this post where I say that the Salton Sea Toilet does NOT need to be saved, someone left this comment:
So what is your solution David? Let the sea dry up and then find a way to deal with the toxic dust storms that would result? How would you deal with those?
Here's my reply:
Here's how I see it. Either
  1. We keep the sea from drying up to make sure that the toxics do not blow away or
  2. we dry it up and clean up the toxics.
There's no middle ground.

If IID drainwater continues to provide water faster than it evaporates, then we get (1). If IID runoff is reduced (for whatever reason), then we get (2).

I think that IID should pay for the clean up, as it is IID toxics that are in the Toilet, but I was informed by IID folks [here, I think] that it's the State's problem. In fact, I can't find any information on WHO is responsible for PAYING for the restoration.
So... who is going to pay for the $9 billion project? I can see some state money being allocated, but that's for "studies." When Joe Tagg told me about a cheaper plan (an ingenious series of rings of varying salinity, each lower then the one outside as the rings get smaller), I got the feeling that IID was going to have to pay. (I am not saying Tagg was offering to pay! Perhaps he was only talking about a neat idea.)

Bottom Line: Help! I am lost in the Salton madness!


  1. Who cares? The Salton Sea sucks and should go back to its "natural" state.

  2. DZ,

    Help...? If you are serious... Solutions cost time or money, or both. It would take a bit of time to formulate a plan that could be part of a bigger plan to supply fresh water to the region. However, time is money...

  3. The state agreed to pay for Salton Sea restoration in order to get the QSA signed, because all parties involved were well aware that they could be legally liable for an expensive clean up along the lines of the Owens Lake situation. The QSA had to be signed, California had to live within it's Colorado River apportionment, so the state stepped up to the plate.

    What the state agreed to is to fix the Salton Sea in terms of air quality. What the residents want is a restored sea with recreation potential. What they are going to get is a big question mark.

    Part of the land underneath the sea is part of the reservation for the Torres-Martinez Indian tribe.

    And by the way, IID was granted the right to use the Salton Sea as an agricultural sump in the 1920's, by a signed presidential executive order.

    Also, not all of the toxic stew in the Salton Sea came from IID. A lot of crap - dead animals, raw sewage and what not - flows in from Mexico via the highly polluted New River - the worst polluted river in the country.

    So who pays for that?

    Drying up the Salton Sea will be a disaster for the birds, who used to use the Colorado Delta, which we've dried up to less than a mudflat these days. As bad as it is, it's an important stop on the Pacific Flyway, and the only one they've got left. So, when you dry up the 'toilet' as you say, what would you do with the birds - millions of them - that depend on it?

  4. The Quantification Settlement Agreement that calls for IID to eventually sell 300,000 AF annually to San Diego CWA,
    which was forced on the IID Board by threats that the feds would find its water use wasteful, included clauses committing
    the state of California to put up the money to fix the Salton Sea mess. State Senator Denise Duchaney has introduced
    several Salton Sea rehabilitation funding bills in the legislature over the last 6 years but none of them have been passed.
    There are about six different Salton Sea "solutions" that have been considered by the state and the feds, but none of them
    have gotten any traction to date. The Salton Sea Conservancy, which was created by the QSA, is about to go out of business
    due to a lack of funds.

    From the west shore, the Salton Sea looks like a chemical sump. From the northeast bank at North Shore, it looks much
    better. A whole lot of Pelicans and other birds were hanging out on the east shore when we visited at the beginning of
    the month, so there must be lots of fish for them to eat, even with all the toxic runoff.


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