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Agreement Could Hold State Accountable For Completing Projects On Shrinking Salton Sea

Bruce Wilcox, assistant secretary of Salton Sea policy for the California Nat...

Photo by Brooke Ruth

Above: Bruce Wilcox, assistant secretary of Salton Sea policy for the California Natural Resources Agency, speaks with an attendee of a tour of the Salton Sea, March 16, 2017.

Agreement Could Hold California Accountable For Completing Projects On Shrinking Salton Sea

GUEST:

Bruce Wilcox, assistant secretary for Salton Sea policy, California Natural Resources Agency

Transcript

A tentative agreement with state officials that would hold California accountable for completing projects detailed in the 10-year Salton Sea management plan will be discussed at a meeting Thursday in Sacramento.

The Salton Sea is the state's largest lake and is located in Imperial and Riverside counties. The lake is shrinking and thus exposing playa or lakebed, which becomes airborne dust when the wind blows. The sea will shrink more rapidly in the future because mitigation water that was being put in the sea as part of a water transfer agreement will end at the end of the year.

Bruce Wilcox, assistant secretary for Salton Sea policy at the California Natural Resources Agency, said that with the end of mitigation water "we can probably anticipate roughly a doubling of the amount of decline we see in the Salton Sea over the next few years."

"I think the Salton Sea is kind of a linchpin in this water transfer and probably future water transfers. We've got to be able to show we can do these sort of things without significant impacts, or if there are significant impacts that we can deal with them," Wilcox said.

The 10-year Salton Sea management plan lays out a timeline for building habitat on exposed playa and for dust suppression projects. The plan has a price tag of $383 million. Thus far $80.5 million has been funded.

The state legislature is looking at including money for Salton Sea restoration in a park bond measure that would go to voters in a general election.

RELATED: A Shrinking Salton Sea Raises Health Concerns

The State Water Resources Control Board will discuss the tentative agreement that would hold the state accountable for the Salton Sea management plan Thursday and will vote on the plan at its next meeting. If it approves the agreement it would become part of the water transfer agreement.

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