Salton Sea Authority, Partners complete the first State-Funded Project at the Salton Sea

By on May 5, 2018
Funding Salton Sea Restoration

The Salton Sea Authority (SSA), the Torres Martinez Tribe and numerous other partners gathered recently for a Water Flowing Ceremony to celebrate the first state-funded project to be completed at the Salton Sea. The ceremony, held at the Torres Martinez Wetlands adjacent to the Whitewater storm channel and the Salton Sea, celebrated the fully functioning project which consists of a system of ponds, pumps, and solar arrays capable of pumping water to 46 acres designed to cover the Salton Sea’s dusty playa while providing habitat for migratory birds.

“As Board President of the Salton Sea Authority and resident of the Coachella Valley, I am pleased to see the first phase completed for this wetlands project on tribal land,” stated SSA Board President Patrick G. O’Dowd. “This progress is reason for hope at the Salton Sea. Not only is this the first state‐funded project to be completed at the Salton Sea, the project itself was driven by the leadership of the Salton Sea Authority and its member agencies.”

The Wetlands Project is a precursor to the Salton Sea Management Plan designed to restore health to the Salton Sea. The Salton Sea has no outlet and is growing saltier but is California’s largest lake and a major stopover on the Pacific Flyway. The relatively freshwater wetlands on Torres Martinez tribal lands can help offset loss of wildlife habitat.

For generations, the Salton Sea has sustained one of the nation’s largest and most diverse populations of migratory waterfowl as a nesting ground of vital importance to the Pacific Flyway. But water transfers brokered by the state, along with drought and conservation measures, have reduced flows to the Salton Sea, resulting in negative impacts to wildlife habitat and exposure of dusty lakebed. Wetlands projects like the one at Torres Martinez are intended to help maintain this wildlife presence at the sea and protect public health from air quality deterioration.

By joining forces, the SSA and the Torres Martinez Tribe have been able to initiate the first test case of this approach using state funds provided through the California Natural Resources Agency. California law requires the California Natural Resources Agency to develop the plan in cooperation and consultation with the SSA.

“The SSA partnership with the Tribe and the State on this project is a prime example of what can be done when those partners cooperate to accomplish the greater good,” said Phil Rosentrater, GM/Executive Director for the SSA. “We have all come a long way in the past couple of years. We must remain committed to build momentum so that we can create a healthier and more prosperous future for the Salton Sea.”

Rosentrater continued saying, “Successful completion of the first phase of this wetlands project demonstrates that genuine progress is being achieved on the ground at the Salton Sea. This is a direct result of the 2 interagency cooperation among the partners and stakeholders at the Sea.”