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    California’s Salton Sea spews toxic gas, creating a ghost town

    Frank Lewis, Program Director of the Salton Sea in Audubon, is looking for signs of bird activity on the northeastern shore of Lake Salton. The lake’s once prosperous ecosystem is deteriorating as the coastline recedes and salt increases.

    Emmaneuverer | CNBC

    Imperial County, California. — The vision of Salton City was clear. A bustling resort community along the Crystal Blue waters of the Salton Sea. Residents could enjoy their boat docks and walk along the palm-lined streets to the beach.

    The reality of the city is more severe. Instead of a vacation place, it feels like an apocalyptic ghost town. Most homes were demolished or not built. Palm trees are stumps. And although the sea is beautiful, it is toxic.

    “People here were fishing, swimming and bringing boats,” said Frank Lewis, director of the Salton Sea program in Audubon, about the collapse of the land that once held water. I was standing by the dock. “They have moved from living in paradise to living in hell.”

    Surrounded by vast mountains and deserts, here in the southeastern corner of California, is the state’s largest and most problematic body of water and an almost abandoned community near its coast.

    The shrinking of the Salton Sea has the potential to preview what will happen in other communities in the western United States when climate change makes water supply unpredictable. Years of drought can severely deplete the reservoirs that supply the Colorado River, and the impending water outage can affect millions of people.

    Located on the shores of Lake Salton, Salton City was once planned and developed as a resort community. The area is now a haunted town with mostly vacant lots and destroyed homes.

    Emmaneuverer | CNBC

    The inland lake was created in 1905 by an accidental influx of water from the Colorado River that filled a lowland depression in the desert called the Salton Sink. The lake grew to 400 square miles in just a few years and remained full, primarily due to drainage from Imperial Valley farms.

    Tourism and wildlife flourished in the sea in the mid-1900s. During the 20th century, California lost about 95% of it Wetlands and inland lakes, It has made Salton an important habitat for millions of migratory birds.

    In the 1970s, lakes began to experience pollution due to rising salinity levels and agricultural spills. Today, the lake’s ecosystem is collapsing, and scientists predict that the water will be so salty that only bacteria can survive. 1999, the sea Covers 375 square miles But since then, it has shrunk by more than 45 square miles.

    According to the Audubon Association, many of the more than 400 species of sea-dependent birds have died, and all but one fish have died in major waters of the ocean. The former lake bottom is turning into an exposed playa, poses a public health hazard to more than 650,000 people.

    The North Shore Beach and Yacht Club is located along the northeastern shore of Lake Salton. The pier was closed in the 1980s after it was destroyed by fluctuations in water levels.

    Emmaneuverer | CNBC

    Lakeside homes in Salton City, tourist beaches in the populous Bombay, and yacht clubs that once welcomed celebrities like Frank Sinatra and the Beach Boys are now almost ruined and heavily polluted. ..

    “Fifty years ago, there were restaurants, nightclubs and golf clubs here,” Lewis said of an abandoned yacht club on the northeastern coast of the ocean. The club was closed in the 1980s after the pier was destroyed by fluctuations in water levels. Since then, it has been converted into a museum on the history of the lake.

    “Look at what we have now,” continued Lewis. “The worst environment, health and economic crisis in modern history.”

    Poisonous gas harms poor communities

    The wreckage of a boat burned on Bombay Beach. Bombay was once a popular tourist destination, but the rise and fall of salinity and smoke in the Salton Sea have made it a ghost town full of Bohemian-style art.

    Emmaneuverer | CNBC

    Transaction called Quantified settlement contractWas the largest agricultural-to-city water transfer in US history. To mitigate damage to the Salton Sea, the deal required the Imperial Irrigation District to send additional water to Salton until 2017.

    Farmers in the Imperial Valley continued to grow many of the country’s winter vegetables well, consuming less water. Even after the water transfer, the Imperial Valley uses more than half of California’s total water from the Colorado River, according to data from the US Pioneer Department.

    When the contract expires as planned, the quality and quantity of water inflow from the Imperial Valley to the Salton Sea will accelerate, and the Imperial County Supervisory Board will announce it. Regional state of emergency About air pollution in the sea.

    Progress is slow and the cost of laziness is considerable. The combination of poor air quality, loss of ecosystem habitat, reduced entertainment income and devaluation of assets can cost up to $ 70 billion over 30 years. Reportedly Published in 2014.

    One of California’s poorest counties, the Imperial County, which is predominantly Latin inhabited, is particularly affected by the smell of rotten eggs from hydrogen sulfide, which covers the oxygen-deficient waters of the ocean. It is also exposed to swirling dust from the dry bottom of the lake, which contains toxins such as arsenic and selenium.

    Bombay beach artwork. The almost abandoned area hosts an annual art festival called the Bombay Beach Biennale.

    Emmaneuverer | CNBC

    Imperial is now known for its worst air quality in the country. Children in California have the highest visits to asthma-related emergency rooms, about twice the state average. Studies show It is published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health.

    The ocean is a state environment, as some experts point out that policy delays and negligence are related to the fact that the people who live closest to the ocean are primarily low-income, colored communities. It highlights the crisis of justice.

    “If the ocean was next to Los Angeles, it would have been fixed long ago,” Lewis said. “But it’s next to a poor community — and they have no political influence.”

    “I think things will change as the ocean begins to affect the wealthier communities in Palm Springs,” Lewis added. “More action will be taken as the gated community begins to feel the effects of poor air quality.”

    A spokesman for the Imperial Irrigation District, Robert Shetler, said the district is working on several projects at sea, including small-scale air quality mitigation programs and vegetation establishment, but the solution is state responsibility. Said that.

    “This is a big problem and we need to take immediate action,” says Schettler. “IID understands the interest in seeing the Salton Sea issue get the attention they deserve, and is pleased that more is happening while actions can be delayed. increase.”

    California is far from being fixed

    For years, county officials have urged California to pursue delayed plans to build wetlands along the exposed coastline of the lake.

    In 2018, California launched the Salton Sea Management Program to manage the crisis. The state’s Natural Resources Agency has announced a 10-year plan to build a 30,000-acre habitat and dust control project and is evaluating water imports.

    One possibility is to bring water from the Gulf of California, desalinate it and pump it into the lake, but at a cost. Another idea is to borrow water from agricultural users in Imperial Valley.

    The Species Conservation Habitat Project, which is part of a 10-year plan to address the problem of the Salton Sea in California, includes approximately 3,770 acres of exposed lake bottom. Wildlife such as egrets and stag beetles inhabit this area.

    Emmaneuverer | CNBC

    A geothermal mud jar near the shore of Lake Salton. The mining of lithium, a component of secondary batteries, is seen as an economic and environmental opportunity for the community.

    Emmaneuverer | CNBC

    Michael Cohen, Principal Researcher at the Pacific Institute, has been studying water use and the management of the Salton Sea in the Colorado River basin for over 20 years. Cohen said the crisis was “absolutely” properly addressed and unprioritized by the country.

    “The state is far behind schedule for the restoration of Salton Sea,” Cohen said. “There is a lot of money and a lot of water, but they aren’t staffing fast enough, and there is a lot of bureaucracy, which takes a long time.”

    “The challenges of the Salton Sea are complex and urgent, and further deterioration of the ocean will exacerbate existing problems,” said Arturo Delgado, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Policy for the Salton Sea of ​​the Natural Resources Agency. rice field.

    “Although we recognize that progress has been slow in the past, the state and its partners have shown a firm commitment to carry out the project in the field,” Delgado said. “There have been many delays in the past, but in recent years we have added key staff to gain momentum and expand our capabilities.”

    Salton Sea Beach is located along the west bank of Salton Sea. The sea is not safe for swimming, boating and fishing.

    Emmaneuverer | CNBC

    One of the main economic outlooks is the extraction of lithium. As the ocean coastline recedes, it exposes players that can provide access to electric vehicles and lithium, a component of energy storage.

    The State Energy Commission has funded energy companies to explore lithium with the vision that geothermal development and lithium recovery can provide clean energy and spur local employment growth. bottom.

    The Salton Sea cannot be restored to its former state as California does not have enough water to fill it again and climate change continues to exacerbate the drought.

    However, while progress in tackling the crisis has stagnated, experts argue that it is not too late for California to find and implement amendments.

    “We have a moral obligation to take care of the wildlife and communities affected by the Salton Sea,” says Lewis. “I want to see this lake fill with water, but that’s not realistic. The solution is for communities, bodies of water, and environmental groups to find and protect a common foundation.”

    California’s Salton Sea spews toxic gas, creating a ghost town

    Source link California’s Salton Sea spews toxic gas, creating a ghost town

    The post California’s Salton Sea spews toxic gas, creating a ghost town appeared first on Eminetra.

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