Salton Sea Program Director Frank Ruiz delivered a sobering message just before Christmas when he warned, “The projection is that this potentially can be the largest health crisis in the history of North America if nothing is done.”
At 35 feet long and 15 miles wide, the Salton Sea is California’s largest lake. Although it was previously one of California’s celebrated getaways, in recent years it has become a breeding ground for dangerous chemicals and the source of noxious smells.
Although the smell is less than pleasant, Ruiz and other experts are more concerned with the particles being emitted, which are decreasing air quality not only for those in the community, but the natural ecosystem as well.
In light of the lake’s deteriorating condition, there is a management plan in place designed to restore the sea to its former state with a series of projects scheduled to occur over the next ten years. The plan is set, but the funding is not. Restoration efforts are projected to cost nearly $300 million.
To this end, California voters will be asked to approve Senate Bill 5 on the June 6, 2018 ballot. If successful, the measure could add $200 million to the Salton Sea’s restoration efforts. Although it will not provide all the money needed to complete the project, it will move the state closer to a resolution of this environmental concern.
Ruiz offered an additional warning similar to the words of Rachel Carson in her seminal work Silent Spring when he said, “The birds are usually a good sign of how good or bad our environment is. How good or how bad the quality of the air is…when the birds are gone…we will go next.”