As Salton Sea faces ecological collapse, a plan to save it with ocean water is rejected
The Salton Sea is one of the most vital bodies of water in the West. And if it doesn’t dry up soon, it could be permanently submerged by the Salton Trough that stretches from the San Gabriel Mountains all the way to the Mexican border.
The sea is important to the world economy both as a source of water for farming and drinking and as a tourist attraction.
And this past year, it has become even more precious, as the sea’s freshwater levels have dropped by more than 100 feet and the salt water has risen by nearly 20 feet thanks to an unprecedented storm.
In response, Sea Ranch, a U.S. company that operates a tourist attraction at the sea, has been trying to get the Trump administration to support their plan, which is to pump water out of the sea by drilling two deep wells.
But an environmental group, Save the Salton Sea, has opposed the plan, citing the environmental dangers of potentially polluting water.
This month, a group of senators tried to take up the issue, sending a letter to Secretary of Interior, Ryan Zinke, asking him to delay the project.
“Please be aware that there is no way in the world that drilling a couple of wells in the Salton Sea will provide a permanent solution to the Salton Sea’s ecological crisis,” Sens. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., and Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., wrote on the letter. “It is simply not financially feasible to drill two wells in the Salton Sea that would produce enough water to adequately address both water quality and quantity issues.”
As a result, the idea is dead.
“This is a dead letter,” said Mike Washburn, president of Sea Ranch. He said he has sent two letters and several phone calls to Zinke, but has gotten no response.
“It’s frustrating,” he said. “People ask us why are we still doing this anyway,