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Salton Sea Ecosystem Restoration Program

Department of Water Resources
FloodSAFE Environmental Stewardship and
Statewide Resources Office
1416 9th Street, Room 1148
Sacramento, CA 95814

Mailing Address:
P.O. Box 942836
Sacramento, CA 94236-0001

Phone Number:
916-653-8629

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Spotlight


Testimony

"Designing the Species Conservation Habitat Project on the Salton Sea's receding shoreline has been exceedingly challenging due to the combination of unique project goals, very weak onsite soils, rapidly evolving site conditions and extreme environmental conditions. Developing constructible and functional facilities that provide the highest quality of habitat efficiently balanced within an economical budget has required a creative design process that assumes a certain level of risk. In my career as a wetland habitat engineer for Ducks Unlimited, I have never faced a more challenging project. Superb coordination between project team members combined with expert technical input should make this project a success and set the stage for future expansion of pond habitat around the Salton Sea."

Vince Thompson, P.E.
Senior Regional Engineer at Ducks Unlimited

Salton Sea Species Conservation Habitat Project – Final EIS/EIR and Final Design updates.

The Final EIS/EIR of the Salton Sea Species Conservation Habitat (SCH) document has been certified.

Monitoring and Assessment Plan

And don't forget to check out the just released final Salton Sea Ecosystem Monitoring and Assessment Plan.

Financial Assistance Program

        Mitigated Negative Declaration for the Habitat Enhancement & Creation: GeoTube Technology and Solar PV Power on SS Playa, Torres Martinez Wetlands and Salton Sea Authority

Grant agreements with the three successful applicants in the Salton Sea Financial Assistance Program are nearing completion. The projects will be implemented at the Salton Sea and were chosen to meet the Salton Sea Restoration Program goals and objectives. The FAP program empowers the stakeholders to participate in restoration efforts at the Salton Sea. Completed projects will generate data to further refine and advance the Salton Sea Restoration Program goals and objectives.



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Salton Sea Species Conservation Habitat Project – Final EIS/EIR and Final Design updates.

Despite many challenges, another major milestone has been achieved in the Salton Sea Ecosystem Restoration Program when the Secretary of the Natural Resources Agency, John Laird, certified the document on August 8th, 2013. The Final EIS/EIR document was developed by DWR and CA Department of Fish and Wildlife, and prepared jointly with the US Army Corps of Engineers, with the Natural Resources Agency as the lead agency. The consulting firm Cardno/ENTRIX provided much of the work that supported the development of the FEIS/EIR.

The SCH Project is a pilot project to provide a range of aquatic habitats that will support fish and wildlife species dependent on the Salton Sea. Design of the SCH Project is continuing. The SCH project is currently in the 90% design phase and final design is expected to be completed by the end of this year.

When completed, this 640-acre project will provide feeding, resting, and breeding habitat for birds, particularly migratory fish-eating birds whose habitat is deteriorating quickly as the Sea recedes and becomes saltier. Innovative features of this project include loafing islands, deeper water retreat habitat for fish, predation exclusion structures, and integrated sedimentation basins. Features of the project design were based on information gained from development of the 2007 Programmatic EIR and experience of managers for the South Bay Salt Pond Restoration Project. Once the design plans and specifications are completed, permits obtained, and a contractor selected through a competitive bid process, construction of the SCH project will begin.

A strong adaptive management and monitoring plan is being developed to generate information to guide ongoing management decisions. Lessons learned from adaptive management may then be applied to future restoration or habitat conservation actions at the Sea.

A great deal of assistance has come from USGS, Imperial Irrigation District, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and various groups and individuals. We want to thank these stakeholders for their valuable participation and input.

IN THE PRESS

In the Press - Archive

OBJECTIVE

The Salton Sea is located along one of the most important flyways in North America, providing critical habitat for more than 400 species of resident and migrating birds. As water elevation in the Salton Sea continues to decline and salinity continues to increase, the result is a decline in the habitat the birds and fish depend on and an eventual collapse of the fishery. The SCH Project will provide a range of aquatic habitats that will support fish and wildlife species dependent on the Salton Sea.

The Salton Sea Ecosystem Restoration Program involves coordinating efforts among the Legislature, various federal, State, and local agencies, stakeholders, and the general public to implement restoration activities at the Salton Sea in conformance with these objectives.


Information About

  • Legislation

      SB 1256: Salton Sea Restoration Council (2007-2008 Session) -- This Senate Bill would have created the Salton Sea Restoration Council within the Resources Agency (comprised of an Executive Committee, Science Committee, Local Government forum and a stakeholder forum), as the governing structure responsible for project implementation of the Preferred Restoration Plan. The hearing was on May 12, 2008 and was not approved by the Senate Appropriations Committee.

      On January 24, 2008, the Legislative Analyst's Office released the report Restoring the Salton Sea. The report discusses the history and current state of the Sea and legal and policy reasons for restoring the Sea. The report also makes recommendations on how the Legislature should proceed with the restoration.

      SB 51: Ducheny. Salton Sea Restoration Council. September 2010. This Senate Bill creates the Salton Sea Restoration Council within the Resources Agency (comprised of an Executive Committee, Science Committee, Local Government forum and a stakeholder forum), as the governing structure responsible for determining a preferred alternative for the restoration of the Salton Sea ecoystem and the protection of wildlife dependent on that ecosystem.

  • Fish Kills and Odor
  • Objective

      State legislation enacted in 2003 and 2004 (SB 277, SB 317, SB 654 and SB 1214) requires the Natural Resources Agency, in coordination with the Department of Water Resources and Department of Fish and Game, to undertake a restoration study to determine a preferred alternative for restoration of the Salton Sea ecosystem and the protection of wildlife dependent on that ecosystem. The objectives of the restoration are to 1) restore long-term stable aquatic and shoreline habitat for the historic levels and diversity of fish and wildlife that depend on the Salton Sea, 2) eliminate air quality impacts from restoration projects, and 3) protect water quality. The Salton Sea Ecosystem Restoration Program is coordinating efforts between the Legislature, various federal, State, and local agencies, stakeholders, and the general public to implement restoration activities at the Salton Sea in conformance with these objectives.

  • Background

      The Salton Sea is located in a closed desert basin in Riverside and Imperial Counties in southern California, south of Indio and north of El Centro. The basin is more than 200 feet below sea level and has no natural outlet. Although lakes have existed in this basin in the past, the current body of water formed in 1905 when a levee break along the Colorado River caused its flows to enter the basin for about 18 months. Since 1905, the Sea has fluctuated in size with varying inflow, and it today has a surface area of about 365 square miles.

      A balance between inflowing water and evaporation sustains the Sea. With no outlet, any salts that are dissolved in the inflow are trapped. Salt concentrations in the Sea are currently about 48,000 milligrams per liter (mg/L), or about 30 percent higher than ocean water. Salinity will continue to rise under current conditions, however, under the recently approved Quantification Settlement Agreement inflow to the Sea will be will be significantly reduced. The reduction in inflow will cause the Sea to shrink and cause salinity to rise faster than it would have without a reduction in inflow.

      A gradual increase in salinity and its consequences was recognized soon after the Sea was formed. Various salinity control measures were studied as early as the mid-1950s. Since then, many alternatives have been proposed and analyzed. The current effort by the California Resources Agency is the latest attempt to develop a permanent solution to continued degradation of the environmental values of the Sea.