Salton Sea

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Salton Sea

Postby KathyW » Sun Sep 23, 2012 6:41 pm

I don't know if anyone has given what is going on at the Salton Sea much thought lately. It's only going to get worse over time - especially after 2018. The Desert Sun has a write-up on it today. Here's some more info for those who are interested:

http://www.aquafornia.com/archives/cate ... alton-sea/

Years ago when they dried up Owens Lake, the blowing dust became a major health hazard - cancer and other lung diseases spiked. The death of the Salton Sea will be a long and painful process.
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Postby phydeux » Mon Sep 24, 2012 6:08 pm

Consider its history: Its was formed by a leaky aquaduct bringing water to the area for agricultural purposes, then opportunistic birds and land animals started using it and adapted to its environment, plus the lake was 'seeded' with fish for recreational purposes. People have tried to make a living off of businsses around it (almost universally failing), and now its considered a landmark, almost a natural lake that must be preserved either for the wildlife or to prevent the air pollution problems from the resulting dusts and gas vapors (it does have some natural volcanic areas around it). Also different than Owens Lake in that Owens was a natural lake recieving the runoff from the Owens River and its tributaries (plus a few other creeks & streams).

Kind of a mixed bag for which there is no good solution - not what politicians want to deal with. Any solution is going to make some group angry.
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Postby Hikin_Jim » Mon Sep 24, 2012 6:22 pm

So, at it's heart, is the problem basically that the lake just isn't getting enough water?

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Postby neverwashasbeen » Mon Sep 24, 2012 6:34 pm

phydeux said "Consider its history... ." The Salton Sea is at the bottom of Ancient Lake Cahuilla, one can see both man made and natural aritfacts along the shores of the ancient sea. In it's current configuration, it was formed by the Colorado River failing it's banks in 1905 and the entire river flowed into the basin for 18 months. It has become a major stopping point on the Great Pacific Flyway. Many argue that the Salton Sea should be allowed to dry up, but what would replace the wetlands along the coast that have been destroyed for development. There doesn't appear to be any viable alternative comparable location. On the other hand, the costs involved to save the sea are so high, that no one in this current economic enviornment who has the power to commit the funds, is willing to do so. So we are left with a real dilemma. Of course if the solution was simple, it wouldn't be worthy of discussion.
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Postby zippetydude » Mon Sep 24, 2012 8:15 pm

Hikin_Jim wrote:So, at it's heart, is the problem basically that the lake just isn't getting enough water?


No, just the opposite. Without an outflow, any body of water will increase in salinity (and the concentration of other minerals as well) because the water coming in, although it's fresh water, has a higher concentration of these substances than does the absolutely pure form of water that leaves through evaporation. Regardless of the amount of water entering the Salton Sea, it will continue to increase in the level of impurity because there is no outflow to establish equilibrium.

Incidentally, the Salton Sea has existed intermittently for thousands of years, but the current form has had much higher levels of complex chemicals like pesticides, fertilizers, etc. than could have ever occurred naturally because the runoff it receives is from agricultural sources. Any solution will be complex and expensive because the problem is so vast in scope. Too much water there to purify, too many pollutants there to let the thing dry up. Gotta wonder, though, if it's not passing on horrible toxic chemicals to the birds that still gather there.

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Postby Hikin_Jim » Tue Sep 25, 2012 6:51 am

From what I'm reading, maybe it's a little bit of both. The lake's size is shrinking due to lack of inflow, but salinity and pollution are increasing because, well, what happens in the Salton, stays in the Salton.

One proposal that sounded quite interesting is to build a sea level canal to the Gulf of California/Sea of Cortez.

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Postby KathyW » Tue Sep 25, 2012 7:52 am

The QSA Water Transfer Agreement will accelerate the death of the Salton Sea as less water will be flowing into the Sea.

http://www.iid.com/index.aspx?page=122
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Postby KathyW » Tue Sep 25, 2012 7:57 am

It is all part of the water wars. We don't have enough water to go around, but people just keep pouring water onto that useless green grass around their houses. I'm all for irrigating that beautiful farmland because we need to eat, but I don't get why people waste water on lawns an golf courses.

Is everyone aware that Borrego Springs/Valley is looking at the potential of being a ghost town someday because groundwater is their only source of water and there is a serious overdraft problem?
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Postby Hikin_Jim » Tue Sep 25, 2012 11:09 am

Yeah, I guess everyone wants their yard to look like they live on the east coast instead dealing with the reality of semi-arid S. Calif. There's a lot that can be done in terms of water conservation, and in particular (as you say) with gardening/landscaping.

Of course a lot of the crops in the Imperial Valley are water intensive, things like cotton. Maybe it doesn't make sense to grow water intensive crops in the desert?

That's not a good thing for Borrego Springs. Even worse, as they deplete the ground water, the water table will lower which may cause natural springs to dry out -- leaving wildlife with nowhere to go. Not good.

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Postby KathyW » Wed Sep 26, 2012 6:39 am

Comments:

What the farmer grows is driven by demand. If you want to see less field crops grown, then consume less of the products they go into. It all starts at the consumer level, and that is something each and everyone of us controls with our wallets. We all need to take responsibility for what is going on and stop pointing fingers.

Owens Lake / Salton Sea - the point isn't how they were created, but what happens when they dry up. The Salton Sea is much larger than Owens Lake was; so there will be a lot more dust flying.
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