State and federal leaders came together to tour the Salton Sea and understand the impending health issues the public continues to face. NBC Palm Springs joined officials to get a glimpse of what is being done to help restore an area that was once a relaxing summer destination.
The Salton Sea was once a hip and happening spot for locals to enjoy the sun and have fun in the water. Today the Salton Sea is a place where fish go to rot and is considered a public health crisis. federal and state leaders are partnering up to hopefully change that.
“What we need now is funding and the most immediate need is to help the states fish and wildlife project that will cover 8-thousand acres in the Salton Sea so we can continue to move the ball forward in a timely fashion,” said Congressman Dr. Raul Ruiz, U.S. Representative of the 36th District.
Congressman Ruiz hosted Representative Marcy Kapture of Ohio, who is the Chairwoman of House Energy and Water Appropriations, she also controls the purse of that committee.
“I have thought about the Salton Sea though I’m not from California, and how we heal it so the people around it can be healed,” said Kaptur.
Governor Gavin Newsom has proposed an extra $220 million dollars in the upcoming California budget. But local residents have heard of many plans in the making with little action being taken and they are still concerned about the exposed playa leading to worse air quality.
“I’m as impatient with this as they are, the good news is that before we did not have any plan or money or projects and now we have a plan, we have money and we have projects that we need to expedite and hurry so we can receive the funds from the state, receive the funds from the federal government to break ground,” added Ruiz.
“The people that live around here, the children, for example, have a much higher asthma rate than children in other parts of the country, we have to fix that,” added Kaptur
We also spoke to a professor who has been mapping the receding shoreline with a drone and balloon since 2018.
“There was a deal before where the farmers would pass through a lot more water over their land and then into the Salton Sea. but that stopped on December 31, 2018. and so from that point on, right now until the future we are seeing an increased or rapid reduction in the shoreline,” said Ryan Sinclair, Associate Professor at Loma Linda University.
Professor Sinclair says since 2018 the exposed playa at the north shore yacht club has increased 160 feet. Another concern is the lack of data on the Salton Sea and what contaminants may be living underwater.