Sustaining the Salton Sea

Three decision-makers will discuss steps to preserve the Salton Sea on Feb. 4

views of the Salton Sea

Policy leaders will discuss how best to preserve the Salton Sea on Feb. 4.

By Robert Parsons

RIVERSIDE, Calif. – Three key decision-makers will discuss local, state and federal water policies needed to preserve the Salton Sea on Thursday, Feb. 4, at 9 a.m. in Bourns College of Engineering A265.

The event is free and open to the public, but seating is limited, so reservations are requested. Parking permits may be purchased at the kiosk on West Campus Drive at the University Avenue entrance to the campus. The panel discussion is sponsored by UCR’s Integrative Graduate Education and Research Traineeship (IGERT), Water SENSE and School of Public Policy, and Salton Sea Sense, an online information resource maintained by UCR doctoral students who are part of the National Science Foundation Water SENSE IGERT program.

The three panelists are Phil Rosentrater, general manager/executive director of the Salton Sea Authority; Valerie E. Simon, Salton Sea program manager for the Bureau of Reclamation’s Lower Colorado Region; and Bruce Wilcox, assistant secretary for Salton Sea policy for the California Department of Natural Resources.

The Salton Sea is drying up as run-off from crop irrigation declines due to farm-to-urban water transfers. The trio will discuss potential environmental impacts of various policies, along with potential public health issues facing residents of the desert region, where the sea is located.

The Salton Sea is California’s biggest lake and supports a number of species that are threatened or endangered. It is one-and-a-half times saltier than the ocean and will only become moreso over time without restoration efforts. This hyper-salinized water could eventually collapse the ecosystem, which is a stopover for two-thirds of bird species in the continental U.S, according to Air quality would diminish because of over-exposed shoreline dust, which could potentially cause a public health emergency. Without preservation efforts, the potential for an environmental catastrophe is substantial, according to researchers.

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