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Salton Sea Priorities Laid Out By Supervisor Perez

As the new president of the Salton Sea Authority board of directors, Riverside County Supervisor V. Manuel Perez says he will guide “continued efforts to advance habitat and dust suppression projects” at the Sea, and he has laid out his priorities.

At the June meeting of the Salton Sea Authority board of directors, Perez was elected by a unanimous vote to a one-year term as board president beginning July 1.

Salton Sea Dust, Air Quality to Get Closer Look in California

California’s shrinking Salton Sea is getting a closer look scientifically with the state, local air districts, and community groups examining air, water, and even dust from the parched shoreline where water was once plentiful.

Salton Sea Habitat Project Breaks Ground Near New River Delta

Construction began this week on a 4,110-acre wetlands project on the Salton Sea’s playa near the mouth of the highly polluted New River, the California Department of Natural Resources announced Wednesday.

Trump Signs Spending Bill That Could Send Millions of Dollars to the Salton Sea

President Donald Trump on Sunday signed a roughly $900 billion stimulus package meant to tackle both COVID-19 relief as well as federal spending. Tucked in the 5,593-page-long law, courtesy of Southern California Democrats, are provisions that hold the potential to unlock millions of dollars of new federal spending to address the Salton Sea.

The bill notably modifies the Water Resources Development Act by authorizing the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to expedite a study on the feasibility of constructing a perimeter lake around the Salton Sea. It’s one of the large-scale plans floated to address the lake’s woes, and this move could speed up the process.

The law also includes more than $150 million for the Army Corps to carry out such studies on water issues at the Salton Sea and elsewhere.

Amid the Wasteland of the Salton Sea, a Miraculous but Challenging Oasis is Born

LOS ANGELES — It came as a bittersweet surprise to biologists and government agencies monitoring the steadily shrinking Salton Sea’s slide toward death by choking dust storms and salt.

Thousands of acres of exposed lake bed have become the unintended beneficiaries of lush marshlands that are homes for endangered birds and fish at the outlets of a agricultural and urban runoff that used to flow directly into the Salton Sea.

Salton Sea Authority Honors Bruce Wilcox for Years of Service

The Salton Sea Authority honored out-going Assistant Secretary of Salton Sea Policy Bruce Wilcox during the Authority’s October 24 board meeting. Wilcox was at the meeting when the Authority’s Board of Directors unanimously passed a resolution recognizing his efforts to improve the Salton Sea.

He was appointed to serve as assistant secretary within the California Natural Resources Agency in 2015 and assigned to work on Salton Sea restoration efforts. His appointment followed the formation of the Salton Sea Task Force.

Bruce Wilcox honored by members of the Salton Sea Authority

Salton Sea Authority Honors Bruce Wilcox for Years of Service

The Salton Sea Authority honored out-going Assistant Secretary of Salton Sea Policy Bruce Wilcox during the Authority’s October 24 board meeting. Wilcox was at the meeting when the Authority’s Board of Directors unanimously passed a resolution recognizing his efforts to improve the Salton Sea.

He was appointed to serve as assistant secretary within the California Natural Resources Agency in 2015 and assigned to work on Salton Sea restoration efforts. His appointment followed the formation of the Salton Sea Task Force.

Under his leadership, Wilcox helped guide the Salton Sea Management Program, the state’s phased approach to restoration at the sea. The program is intended to guide investments to protect public health and improve the ecosystem of the Salton Sea.

Restoration plans include the 3,770 acre Species Conservation Habitat project on the southeastern shore, a wetlands project at Red Hill Bay, also on the southeastern side, and the proposed 3,000-acre North Lake project on the northern end of the sea.

Salton Sea Restoration Program is moving forward with a restoration project to benefit migratory birds.

A major habitat restoration project at the Salton Sea is set to start that would enhance habitat for migratory birds and cover more exposed sea bed. Photo: Water Authority

Bruce Wilcox advances Salton Sea restoration

In accepting the resolution in his honor, Wilcox said there were positive steps forward toward implementing the projects. He also said he hopes to stay involved with the Salton Sea. During his tenure as the first Assistant Secretary for Salton Sea Policy, Wilcox worked tirelessly to advance restoration of the sea.

The California Natural Resources Agency is working to implement the Phase 1 10-year restoration program but is also looking at other mid-term and long-term restoration efforts. Arturo Delgado, who formerly worked on Salton Sea issues under the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, has been appointed as the new assistant secretary assigned to the Salton Sea.

Dust suppression projects planned

During a recent two-day summit on the Salton Sea held at the Palm Desert campus of University of California, Riverside, Delgado announced plans for 9,000 acres of dust suppression projects at the sea, an attempt to meet missed annual targets for addressing exposed playa over the first three years of the restoration program. The first 200 acres of dust suppression projects, to be located near where the New River flows into the sea, could get under way before the end of this year.

The Imperial County Board of Supervisors recently declared a local state of emergency at the Salton Sea. County officials say the move is intended to speed up the permitting process for restoration projects and get additional federal and state funding to improve the health of the sea.

Salton Sea Restoration Program is moving forward with a restoration project to benefit migratory birds.

Major Habitat Restoration Project Set to Move Forward at Salton Sea

The State of California, after resolving key hurdles, is set to move forward on a restoration project at the Salton Sea to improve habitat for migratory birds, while covering more exposed sea bed.

When the State Water Resources Control Board last met to discuss the status of the Salton Sea Management Program (SSMP), Chairman E. Joaquin Esquivel called upon the State to resolve issues causing delays in the State’s lead project at the sea—Species Conservation Habitat.

Resolution was reached on several of the issues in May, and now the state can move forward with a design-build plan for constructing the habitat project. Development of the project is a tangible sign of the Salton Sea Management Plan being implemented.

Wetlands project completed

Smaller-scale restoration projects at the Salton Sea are moving forward. California agencies, the Salton Sea Authority, and the Torres Martinez Desert Cahuilla Tribe completed a 60-acre wetlands project on the northern end of the sea. Additionally, work is advancing on the 500-plus acre Red Hill Marina wetlands project on the southeast side of the sea. Earthwork is complete, pipelines are in place, and pumps have been ordered and are on their way.

But, the Species Conservation Habitat project is the shining piece of phase one of California’s 10-year approach to the Salton Sea Management Program. It is a proof of concept project that would lay the groundwork for projects to come. The habitat project spans nearly 4,000 acres and entails building a series of ponds that would provide a controlled habitat to manage a fish population, which, in return, would provide a food source for migratory birds. Most importantly, it is a habitat project that would cover an expansive area of exposed playa.

Land issues resolved

What makes the Species Conservation Habitat project so critical is that it has already gone through the permitting phase for the entire 4,000 acres and is ready to move forward with construction. Those who follow the Salton Sea issues anticipated SCH would already be moving forward by now in a phased approach that would have seen about 640 acres completed first. However, an easement issue, lack of staff dedicated to the SSMP, and a learning curve associated with a design-build project delivery process – led to delays in the project.

With land issues resolved, the fact that California is increasing its staff dedicated to the Salton Sea and the Salton Sea Management Plan, and state agencies becoming more familiar with the design-build project delivery method, several obstacles impeding progress have been removed. The 4,000-acre project is expected to start this year be completed in 2023.

The State Water Resources Control Board will likely be holding a new workshop on the Salton Sea in the near future. By then, the State is to have a recovery plan as a path forward to prevent future delays in project development.