High Country News had an interesting feature in its most recent edition that’s worth a look. The newsmagazine turns its focus to the Salton Sea, its proposed restoration and the personalities living there.

The inland sea is fed by agricultural runoff that will increasingly satiate San Diegans’ thirst. The San Diego County Water Authority signed a landmark agreement in 2003 to buy some of that water from the Imperial Irrigation District in a pact known as the Quantification Settlement Agreement.

The diversion of water from the sea threatens its future. As that agricultural runoff decreases, the sea will shrink and get saltier. HCN has previously reported on the QSA and gets right to the sea’s character and future in its latest piece, saying:

This bizarre body of water isn’t really a sea at all; it’s a land-locked agricultural drainage sump 35 miles long and 15 miles wide and up to 50 feet deep in places. It sits in the Salton Sink, a below-sea-level trough embedded in one of the hottest deserts in North America. For thousands of years, the dry Salton Sink periodically morphed into a lake whenever the flooding Colorado River silted its own channel, jumped its banks, and careened crazily into the Sink. Because the Salton Sink has no outlet, the floodwater eventually evaporated, and the Sink reverted to a dry lakebed.

Then man stepped in.

The HCN story follows on the heels of a recent Los Angeles Times story looking at a small — and successful — restoration effort happening at the sea. While state plans to preserve habitat haven’t begun, Debi Livesay, a former North County Times reporter, has launched her own project.

The Times says:

Scientists predict that, without drastic action, by 2015 the last of the sport fish will have died off. The 400 species of birds that nest there, including endangered species such as the Reservation California least tern and Yuma clapper rail, will leave soon after.

But while the state’s plan is still on the drawing board, Livesay’s is up and running.


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