California plans to stop shrinkage of its largest lake This May 1, 2015 aerial file photo shows the exposed lake bed of the Salton Sea evaporating near Niland, Calif. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull, File)
California plans to stop shrinkage of its largest lake
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California Gov. Jerry Brown's administration has proposed spending nearly $400 million over 10 years to slow the shrinking of the state's largest lake. The lake is expected to evaporate at an quickened pace.
 
The plan involves building ponds. They would be on the northern and southern ends of the Salton Sea. It is a salty, desert lake. It has suffered a string of environmental setbacks. They have occurred since the late 1970s. During its heyday of international speed boat races, it drew more visitors than Yosemite National Park.
 
The proposal comes at a critical time for the lake. It is about 150 miles southeast of Los Angeles. San Diego's regional water agency will soon stop sending water to help preserve the lake. San Diego agreed in 2003 to contribute water. The deal goes through 2017. It was a landmark deal to buy Colorado River water from the Imperial Valley. It includes the lake.
 
The $383-million proposal ran into immediate questions. Primarily, who will pay for it? The state has set aside $80 million. That comes under a voter-approved water bond measure. But it leaves a shortfall of $300 million.
 
The lake is often called "The Accidental Sea." It was created in 1905. That is when the Colorado River breached a dike. Two years of flooding then filled a sizzling basin. Today, that basin is about 35 miles long. It is 15 miles wide and only 50 feet deep.
 
The lake has no outlet. It would have quickly evaporated if farmers hadn't settled California's southeastern corner. The Imperial Valley provides the U.S. with much of its winter vegetables. The valley's farms feed off the Colorado River. They drain into the Salton Sea.
 
The 2003 agreement to wean California's dependence on the drought-stricken river called for San Diego to buy large amounts of Imperial Valley water. The San Diego County Water Authority and other local agencies agreed to deliver water to the Salton Sea for 15 years. Meanwhile the state worked to develop long-term fix.
 
The Brown administration said the U.S. Agriculture Department recently committed $7.5 million to preserve the lake and identified federal, state and local governments and philanthropic groups as potential contributors.
 
Even fully funded, the plan wouldn't cover newly exposed lakebed. This may cause respiratory problems for residents who breathe the dust and erode a key habitat for hundreds of species of birds.
 
Projects outlined in the 26-page plan released by California's Natural Resources Agency would cover 29,800 acres of the 48,300 acres. They are expected to dry up by 2028 if nothing is done.
 
The Sierra Club said the plan addressed many of its short-term concerns. These included potential funding sources and specific projects to protect air quality and wildlife habitat. It said the lack of secured funding required state leaders to work together to avoid a "human health, ecological and economic disaster."
 
"The 10-year plan...could not come soon enough with sharp declines in water to the Salton Sea coming in less than 10 months," said Sarah Friedman. She is senior representative of the Sierra Club's Beyond Coal Campaign.
 
The Imperial Irrigation District, which manages the Imperial Valley's water, asked the State Water Resources Control Board to hold hearings. Those could lead to binding measures to preserve the lake.
 
Kevin Kelley is the district's general manager. He wrote that the plan "constitutes substantial progress." He was encouraged by its specific milestones and cost estimates. But he said State Water Resources Control Board's regulatory intervention and oversight was needed to ensure the lake's future after Brown leaves office. That will be in 2018.
 
"We recognize that the Brown administration has limited time left during its tenure and that it cannot bind its successors' hands," he wrote.

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CRITICAL THINKING QUESTION
Why does California want to save the lake?
Write your answers in the comments section below


COMMENTS (27)
  • andrewp-kut
    3/30/2017 - 09:01 a.m.

    Very interesting, Enjoyed learning about the lake and, how its going to dry up

  • dezrayw-pay
    3/30/2017 - 10:55 a.m.

    California wants to save the lake because it will soon be evaporated. It's also the states largest lake so it has a great meaning and means a lot in California.

  • dezrayw-pay
    3/30/2017 - 10:57 a.m.

    California wants to save the lake because its one of the largest lakes in California and has a lot of meaning to it. Also it is slowly evaporating.

  • pshea-dav
    3/30/2017 - 03:31 p.m.

    In response to "California plans to stop shrinkage of its largest lake," I agree that it would be help California.One reason I agree is that if they don't slow down the lake will evaporate . Another reason is that it will cut farmers water supply off in the valley Even though they could use it, I think it's a good idea
    _______________________.

  • anastasiag-kut
    3/30/2017 - 05:28 p.m.

    Why don't the people in California just let the lake shrink if it was made by accident?

  • loganm1-dav
    3/30/2017 - 08:36 p.m.

    In response to "California plans to stop shrinkage of largest lake" I think this is good because we don't have many freshwater sources in america, and lakes are a big part of those sources. One of the reasons the lake is shrinking is because California is in a drought. I hope we can save this lake so we don't lose another lake. This is my opinion on "California plans to stop shrinkage on it's largest lake."

  • fblake-dav
    3/30/2017 - 10:08 p.m.

    In response to "California plans to stop shrinkage of shortage lake," I agree that they should try to keep the lake. One reason I agree is that the people that like to go to the lake can enjoy it. Another reason is that if we take the lake away what would happen to the living things that depend on that lake . It says in the article Agency would cover 29,800 acres of the 48,300 acres. They are expected to dry up by 2028 if nothing is done. A third reason is that if they don't do something about this all the fish will die because the water will be dried up. Even though it would take a lot of money to fix this , I think
    that they should try to save the lake.

  • jordanc-pay
    4/03/2017 - 12:20 p.m.

    The lake is home to many animals and is also needed to keep the ecosystem running

  • antonioc1222-
    4/04/2017 - 08:34 a.m.

    I think they should try to save the lake because if they let it dry out then there won't be any freshwater sources so they'll be thirsty and maybe have no more tourists.

  • natalies-
    4/04/2017 - 08:37 a.m.

    California wants to save this lake because it's the states largest lake, which can help them with many things. If it evaporates they can run into many problems like a drought.

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