As Salton Sea faces ecological collapse, a plan to save it with ocean water is rejected in Congress.
On Friday December 16th, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration released maps showing the Salton Sea, the world’s largest inland sea, to be in a “vulnerable” condition. In other words, the government believes it’s close to turning into a giant saltwater lagoon. “Salton Sea is undergoing unprecedented changes,” NOAA said in an announcement. “In addition, the Salton Sea is under the influence of ocean circulation patterns.”
The Salton Sea is on the western Gulf coast of California and also contains part of the state of Arizona. Scientists think the Salton Sea and its inland watershed contain approximately 15 percent of the world’s freshwater supply. With the loss of its water, Salton Sea water supplies up to 50 percent of the surrounding area, making the area completely dry and “extremely imperiled”. NOAA’s maps also forecast changes in salinity and salinity levels. At present, salinity levels are around 34 parts per thousand and are expected to drop to 16 psf within the next 20 years or so.
Salton Sea is one of the most important freshwater sources for the region, as it draws water from the Colorado River and the Gila River Indian evaporite field.
But what is the plan for saving this iconic landmark? Congress is supposed to vote on an ocean water project to solve this problem. However, in a recent press briefing, an agency spokesman explained why Congress has made a decision not to go along with the plan. “We’ve looked at this for about a year and we’ve been preparing for it for about a year,” said Jeff Masters, NOAA’s assistant director for water. “We did a lot of work with different stakeholders at the local level and in Congress. Congress has decided not to proceed with us.”
Why is Congress no longer interested in this? Well, one of the reasons could be the recent controversy over the federal government’s involvement in the Dakota Access oil pipeline in southern North Dakota. The protest and water protectors faced death threats, along with legal action. They received a final approval for the proposed “Keystone XL” pipeline to cross the