The Salton Sea is an ecosystem in peril. Its prehistory consists of a series of intermittent lakes dependent on infrequent flooding of the Colorado River, while the modern Salton Sea originated from the desire to harness the flow of the Colorado River for irrigation. What began as an accident of this attempt is now a permanent inland sea supported by wastewater and agricultural drainage rather than Colorado River flood flows. However, environmental degradation is challenging the ability of the Sea to sustain the biological components that society has learned to value as characteristics of this waterbody. Increasing salinity and increasing frequency and magnitude of wildlife losses indicate the Sea is under severe environmental stress. The Salton Sea Restoration Project originated to reverse this degradation, to stabilize fluctuating water levels, and to provide a permanent waterbody that sustains values of the human society that uses it. The project foundation is provided by Public Law (PL) 102-575, passed by Congress in 1992. PL 102-575 directs the Secretary of the Interior to "conduct a research project for the development of a method or combination of methods to reduce and control salinity, provide endangered species habitat, enhance fisheries, and protect human recreational values . . . in the area of the Salton Sea." That PL was followed by the Salton Sea Reclamation Act of 1998 (PL 105-372), which directs the Secretary of the Interior to "complete all studies, including, but not limited to
environmental and other reviews, of the feasibility and benefit-cost of various options that permit the continued use of the Salton Sea."
Additional Publication Details
Strategic science plan Salton Sea restoration project
U.S. Geological Survey
ES-5, iii, 1-8, 2-6, 3-29, 4-3; ill.; maps; Appendices