Natural Resources Agency Issues RFI for Water Importation to Salton Sea

State agency seeks new ideas to rescue the Salton Sea
December 08, 2017

Imperial Valley, CA – December 8, 2017 – The California Natural Resources Agency today issued a Request for Information (RFI) focused on the importation of water to the Salton Sea. The purpose of this RFI is to attract new ideas that will complement current statewide recovery efforts.

The RFI can be found on the Natural Resource Agency’s website at: http://resources.ca.gov/salton-sea/. The submission period is open through March 9, 2018.

For decades after its creation, the Salton Sea was sustained with water from the Colorado River as it passed through Imperial Valley farms as irrigation runoff. However, in a 2003 deal known as the Quantification Settlement Agreement, the Imperial Irrigation District (IID) agreed to transfer increasing amounts of water to San Diego and Los Angeles, drastically reducing the inflow to the Salton Sea. As a temporary solution, the IID agreed to provide mitigation water to replenish the Salton Sea for a period of 15 years until the end of 2017, giving state officials time to develop, fund and implement a long-term restoration plan.

However, despite the looming deadline, there remains much work to be done to address the mounting environmental, economic and public health threats posed by increasing salinity and reduced flows at the Salton Sea. These changes further threaten the unparalleled wildlife resources, as well as air quality, in the region.

Through SB 615 (Hueso 2017), the legislature approved a 10-year plan for the Salton Sea that commits the state to complete 29,800 acres of dust control and restoration projects over the next decade. While this represents a large step in the right direction, more needs to be done, as it is projected that in 10 years there will be more than 60,000 acres of exposed lakebed at the Salton Sea – more than twice the area that is proposed to be covered by the 10-year plan. Therefore, the Natural Resources Agency has issued this RFI today to invite new ideas for an effective long-term restoration plan to raise and stabilize water levels, and lower and maintain the Sea’s salinity.

“We know that no path to restoring the Salton Sea is quick and easy”, said Senator Hueso, who represents Senate District 40 that includes the Salton Sea. “We need out-of-the-box thinking to create long-term solutions to the Sea’s environmental problems and protect the health of the 650,000 citizens who live within harm’s way of the toxic dusts. Increasing water levels with a sustainable source is critical to the Sea’s future survival”.

In September 2017 the California Legislature passed SB 5, which is a $4 billion parks and water bond that was signed by Governor Brown and will appear on the ballot in June 2018. If voters approve it, SB 5 will allocate $200 million towards implementing the Salton Sea’s 10-year plan.

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