Orange County Branch Newsletter

July 2012

Branch News

Salton Sea

The Salton Sea may seem far away from Orange County, but its impact may be closer to us than you might think! Located in the southeastern corner of California in Imperial County (about 150 miles from Orange County), the Salton Sea is the largest lake in the entire state of California and it is in trouble!  The Sea is threatened by the potential for significant lake level reductions from proposed changes to historic agricultural and New River inflows. These reductions are due to the proposed transfer of water from the Imperial Valley to the City of San Diego and the possible reclamation of New River water by Mexico.  Should these inflow reductions occur without any replacement inflows, the Salton Sea’s water level could drop by over 16 feet, exposing almost 70 square miles of sediments.  These sediments would then be exposed to the atmosphere, which have the potential to create an environmental disaster akin to Owens Valley, significantly affecting air quality within the Imperial, Riverside, and San Bernardino counties.  Reduction in the Salton Sea level would also threaten the multitude of endangered wildlife that rely upon the Salton Sea for their existence, due to the increased salinity that would accompany the Salton Sea level decline.  The environmental and economic impact would be felt by all of California, but most acutely by Southern California, including Orange County.

For the June Luncheon ASCE Orange County Branch had three speakers discuss the Salton Sea Restoration and Planning Efforts.  The speakers consisted of Dr. Timothy Krantz   Chair, Environmental Studies Program, University of Redlands & Salton Sea Database Program Manager discuss the environmental impacts from the reduction of water in the Salton Sea and some plans that are being proposed to address these issues and pay for the modifcations to the Salton Sea with new energy projects.  William Green, LS   Senior VP, RBF/Michael Baker discussed details on the proposed changes to the location and circulation of the Salton Sea.  Mark R. Norton, PE, LEED AP, SAWPA, discussed an early concept of connecting the existing SARI brine line to the Salton Sea. In case you missed the June luncheon, the presentations are provided below.



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