#California bond issue to include $280 million for the #SaltonSea #ColoradoRiver #COriver

Southern Pacific passenger train crosses to Salton Sea, August 1906. Photo via USBR.

From The Desert Sun (Ian James):

Two bills, AB18 and SB5, both include the funding for projects at the Salton Sea, where state officials are working on the initial stages of a 10-year plan that remains largely unfunded.

“The bills are now being merged and there’s one more vote to be taken,” Assemblymember Eduardo Garcia, D-Coachella, told The Desert Sun. “There is a commitment of both the Assembly and the Senate to fully fund the management plan.”

The funding for the Salton Sea is part of a larger bond measure, which could end up totaling nearly $4 billion and would also free up money for water projects, climate-related projects, coastal protection and parks.

The bond measure is being finalized near the end of the legislative session, which closes on Sept. 15…

In March, California’s Natural Resources Agency released a $383 million plan to control dust and to build thousands of acres of wetlands around the lake’s retreating shorelines over the next 10 years. Only $80.5 million has been approved so far…

The state’s 10-year plan calls for building a total of 29,800 acres of ponds, wetlands and other dust-suppression projects.

People in communities around the lake already suffer from high asthma rates, and the problem is likely to get much worse in the coming years as growing expanses of dry lakebed send bigger clouds of fine dust into the air.

If state agencies fully follow through on the plan, the projects built with the bond money would cover up less than half of the more than 60,000 acres of dry lakebed projected to be left exposed over the next 10 years…

the lake has been shrinking for years as the amounts of water flowing into it have decreased. Rising temperatures are increasing the strains on the overallocated Colorado River, contributing to the factors pushing the lake toward a drier future.

The lake, which has no outlet and is already saltier than the ocean, has been getting progressively saltier and regularly gives off a stench resembling rotten eggs. The remaining fish appear to be disappearing and bird populations have been crashing.

The Salton Sea is about to start shrinking more rapidly next year under the nation’s biggest farmland-to-city water transfer deal, which is sending increasing amounts of water away from the Imperial Valley to urban areas in San Diego County and the Coachella Valley.

The 2003 agreement called for the Imperial Irrigation District to send “mitigation water” from its canals into the sea through 2017 — a period intended to give state agencies time to prepare for dealing with the effects. At the end of this year, that flow of water will be cut off and the lake’s shorelines will retreat more rapidly.

Over the next 30 years, the sea is projected to shrink by a third.

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