Op-Ed: Restore the Salton Sea not to its former size but to its role in the ecosystem to preserve native species & enhance fish & wildlife
The Salton Sea has been the subject of much attention since a large portion of its waters were covered by the Colorado River six decades ago. In the 1970s, that water lost its value as a source of drinking water because of irrigation diversions which reduced flows in the Colorado River to below those needed to meet the flow requirements of farmers and ranchers. The Salton Sea has since returned to a salinized level so that its waters are the lowest level in the United States at over half a foot higher than in the early 1970s, and with the return of flow, its salinity has been reduced to a level lower than that of Lake Superior.
This is the place where the mighty Colorado River meets with the mighty American River. It connects with a long and narrow stretch of Lake Powell, Lake O’ the Cherokees, and small Lake Elsinore. The Colorado River travels about a 1,200-miles journey to its terminus at Pueblo, Colorado.
The waters of the Salton Sea are shallow bays with a rich history. One of the most important historical events was the Great Flood of 1938. The river floods of this period helped restore the river flow and reduced the salinity of the waters, with the result that the Salton Sea, which is fed by the Colorado River, became one of the most ecologically and culturally important wetlands in the world.
At this same time, efforts by individuals and groups led by scientists, the Army Corps of Engineers, and government agencies increased water conservation on the Colorado River. The result was the return of salinity levels which were below those found in the early 1930s. The water was still too high in salinity, however, to support the fish, marine life, and wildlife that live under the Salton Sea.
The Salton Sea is one of the world’s most biologically diverse ecosystems. The Great Salton Sea is home to about 450 species of marine, freshwater, and terrestrial life. It is one of the most biologically rich bodies of water that covers three states — California, Nevada, and Arizona.
Some of the most spectacular wildlife that lives in the Salton Sea include: fish from the Great Lakes including the Atlantic Salmon, and giant clams; anemone fish; the Mexican