Newsom proposes $220 million for Salton Sea


Courtesy of The Chaparral

The Salton Sea located in Southern California.

Gov. Gavin Newsom announced on May 10 a $5.1 billion package for water infrastructure and drought response as part of the $100 billion California Comeback Plan. The investment, over four years, is included with the Water Resilience Portfolio for water security against climate change for Californians.

According to the press, Assemblymember Eduardo Garcia, D-Coachella, championed the proposal as the 5.1 billion dollar package includes $220 million for the Salton Sea to maximize habitat outcomes and provide immediate economic relief to the community release put out by his office.

“The Governor’s new water infrastructure proposal brings big news and potentially big dollars for the Salton Sea. Working in active coordination with the Governor and his administration, we are grateful to have the Governor’s support to ramp up Salton Sea mitigation efforts and excited for this opportunity to build on our progress with an additional $220 million state investment,” Garcia said in the release.

Assemblyman Garcia introduced assembly bill 1500, putting $240 million towards projects around the Salton Sea. Garcia Also secured $200 million for the Salton Sea and New River from proposition 68 which helped start construction for the Species Conservation Habitat project at the beginning of the year.

According to the Salton Sea management plan, the species conservation habitat project would create approximately 3,000 jobs. It would be California’s first large-scale project to create a habitat in the Salton Sea and reduce exposed lakebeds.

The New River is considered the most polluted waterway in North America and makes up nearly 35% of the total water entering the Salton Sea. This poses a large environmental issue as the Salton Sea is a terminal lake, where water flows in but does not flow out. This and many other factors contribute to the lake drying up and producing a dry crust, which is then turned into dust by the strong winds that make poor air quality even worse.

The Salton Sea Management program aims to take action over 10 years to improve conditions around the Salton Sea by constructing projects to create habitat and reduce dust from exposed lake beds on 30,000 acres.

According to an annual report by the Salton Sea Management Program, California is far behind any Targets it’s supposed to meet for addressing the exposed lakebed issue. California was supposed to suppress 3500 acres of exposed lakebed; however, only 755 acres or suppressed.

The natural resources agency, which leads many of the projects in charge of the Salton Sea recently appointed Brent Haddad of the University of California Santa Cruz to analyze potential water importation schemes that would assist in a lot of the projects being proposed. The analysis is expected to be finished in the summer of 2022.

Governor Gavin Newsom’s $5.1 billion proposals also helps individuals in need of paying water bills of people who fell behind on payments during the coronavirus pandemic, especially those in disadvantaged communities. The proposal is meant to supplement California’s drought preparedness plan, which was introduced in April 2021. The drought preparedness plan focuses on getting clean drinking water to disadvantaged communities and introduces California’s first comprehensive needs assessment of water systems across the state that are failing or at risk of failing.

Gavin Newsom stated in a press release, “Shoring up our water resilience, especially in small and disadvantaged communities, is imperative to safeguarding the future of our state in the face of devastating climate change impacts that are intensifying drought conditions and threatening our communities, the economy, and the environment,” said Governor Newsom. “This package of bold investments will equip the state with the tools we need to tackle the drought emergency head-on while addressing long-standing water challenges and helping to secure vital and limited water supplies to sustain our state into the future.”

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