Salton Sea’s Plan Draws Opposition

Wed May 16, 2007 - West Edition

SALTON SEA, Calif. (AP) A $6 billion state plan intended to save the shrinking Salton Sea in the Southern California desert drew local opposition.

The draft plan, unveiled March 27 by California Secretary of Resources Director Mike Chrisman, calls for construction of a 40-mi. (64 km) barrier to create a 34,000-acre (13,759 ha) open-water habitat in the northern area of the lake. To the south, 62,000 acres (27,500 ha) of habitat would be created by building giant berms.

It leaves out the Salton Sea Authority’s proposal to create two bodies of water, a northern lake within Riverside County’s boundaries and a southern lake within Imperial County’s boundaries.

One issue is which portion of the lake will reap economic benefits of tourism and development. Seventy percent of the Salton Sea is within Imperial County and the rest is within Riverside County.

“We need to have recreation opportunities for people in Imperial County,” said Authority President Gary Wyatt, also an Imperial County supervisor.

Wyatt said leaving out plans for a southern lake is “unacceptable.”

The Salton Sea is plagued by increasing salinity. A final plan is expected to be submitted to the state Legislature by the end of April.

The restoration would be a 75-year effort, if approved by lawmakers.