As Salton Sea faces ecological collapse, a plan to save it with ocean water is rejected by its indigenous people
The Salton Sea is a salty water body lying between California’s two biggest mainland cities, Los Angeles and San Diego.
Its waters, once used for irrigation and domestic water supply, are now a national disaster.
When the water level fell in the 1950s, it flooded homes, destroyed agricultural land and threatened the life of the endangered black rhino.
But the problem is worse than that: the Salton Sea and its environs are now facing their own ecological collapse. The water’s level is falling by a metre every year and is predicted to be completely drained by the end of the century.
The Salton Sea, seen from Santa Monica, is a salty lake that is quickly running dry Read more
All this is happening amid a new wave of environmental activism.
And with the approval of an ambitious plan for the water, the Salton Sea and its residents will face the biggest threat they have faced in recent history. It is being rejected by their traditional ways of life to a man.
On the edge of a dried-up Salton Sea, the indigenous peoples of the area have been invited to enter negotiations with the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and local authorities. Their goal is to try to save the area by extracting water from the lake. But the plan has been thrown into disarray.
“If you have the ability, you have the power to save the Salton Sea. As far as I am concerned, we have the power to save the Salton Sea today and I think it is going to happen. We are going to succeed,” said Frank Dominguez, the director of the Salton Sea Conservancy, a local land-use group.
For more than a century, this area of southern California was the breadbasket of America’s farming industry. A series of droughts and other crises began to turn it into desert in the 1990s.
At the same time, the Salton Sea is now home to a number of endemic species of plants, which are struggling to survive in its salty, nutrient-poor waters.
They include the endangered desert tort