“The projection is that this potentially can be the largest health crisis in the history of North America if nothing is done,” said Frank Ruiz, Salton Sea program director.
Once a recreational sanctuary, the Salton Sea is now a breeding ground for dangerous chemicals, resulting in that familiar fishy smell.
“Well, I wouldn’t be so much concerned about the smell, I would be concerned about the particle,” Ruiz said.
Tiny particles that are decreasing air quality for the local community and the natural ecosystem.
“The birds are usually a good sign of how good or bad our environment is,” Ruiz said. “How good or how bad the quality of the air is, when the birds are gone, we will go next.”
The state’s largest lake, the Salton Sea is thirty-five miles long and 15 miles wide, or the entire size of the Coachella Valley, however, the sea’s danger stretches far beyond our local area.
“Not only for the community that lives here but for areas closer to the greater Los Angeles area,” Ruiz said.
The Salton Sea management plan aims to restore the sea with a series of projects over the next 10 years. “The 10-year plan is good and everything has been done on paper, but nothing has been done on the ground,” Ruiz explained.
However, there is hope, as a California ballot measure in June could potentially give $200 million to restoration efforts. While, not all the money necessary, it will count as a significant step toward their ultimate goal of around $300 million.
“We are hoping that Californians will vote yes, so that will bring money that will enhance the work here in the area,” Ruiz said.
Senate Bill 5 will be on the ballot June 5, 2018.