A water deal signed between Imperial County and San Diego County may rest upon the fate of the Salton Sea, the largest lake in California. The deal would transfers large amounts of water from water-rich Imperial County, which is bordered by the Colorado River, to San Diego County, which, with a population larger than 20 states, requires regular water transfers to fuel its growth.
The most recent sticking point appears to be the fate of the Salton Sea, which has experienced a major environmental decline due to various water transfers and the diversion of rivers and streams away from the sea and into suburban and agricultural communities.
The lack of water has increased the salinity of the lake, threatening several animal species that live there. In addition, the continued degradation of the lake could lead to alkali storms that could devastate farming in the region.
In the mid 2000s, the state government pledged to fund the restoration of the Salton Sea, a promise which has not been kept due to recent budget constraints. In addition, a state judge recently ruled that it was unconstitutional for the state government to sign open-ended agreements to save the sea.
If the Salton Sea’s restoration is halted, whether through budget difficulties or judicial rulings, many residents of San Diego fear that further court decisions could overturn the county’s water deal, forcing San Diego to rely on water transfers from Northern California.
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Written by: Justin Ellison / Farm Plus Staff Writer