Oct 11, 2019

About $300 million earmarked so far for Salton Sea work

Author: MICHAEL MARESH, Staff Writer


SALTON SEA — As a followup to a June 26 meeting in Sacramento, Assemblyman Eduardo Garcia, D-Coachella; Rep. Paul Ruiz, D-Palm Desert, and California Natural Resources Agency Secretary Wade Crowfoot met Oct. 3 in Palm Desert with local leaders and the public to discuss funding sources and improvements coming to the Salton Sea.

Garcia, who said work will begin on the southern part of the Salton Sea in December, said another $150 million needs to be appropriated to the sea to complete all of the projects in the 10-year plan.

To date, he said, about $300 million has been appropriated and earmarked for improvements to the sea.

“We certainly are moving fast in identifying other funding sources,” Garcia said.

In the 2020 legislative session Garcia said he will be working toward getting a climate general obligation bond passed for the Salton Sea.

He said there will be future meetings, but the work needs to start before then.

“The next step is to get the work done,” Garcia said, reiterating that the work is scheduled to begin in December.

The Salton Sea has been losing water resulting in an increased shoreline or playa, so $7.5 million in federal funds and $30 million from Proposition 68 has been or will be set aside for agricultural dust suppression and wetlands projects, which Garcia said he thinks will help.

Proposition 68, approved by voters in June 2018, resulted in $200 million being made available for Salton Sea funding, of which $30 million will be used for capital outlay projects that provide air quality and habitat benefits and that implement the California Natural Resources Agency’s Salton Sea Management Program.

The other $170 million will be for restoration activities identified in the Salton Sea Management 10-year plan that started in 2017.

Budget actions in 2019 include almost $90 million from re-appropriation of funds previously appropriated from Proposition 84 and $5.25 million from the same proposition for the Department of Fish and Wildlife.

In addition, $206.1 million is being or will be spent for the design-build phase of the Salton Sea Species Conservation Habitat scheduled to start in the current fiscal year.

The $288 million from the quantification settlement agreement in the joint powers authority is a funding source government entities would like to be obtained for the Salton Sea.

However, the Imperial Irrigation District stated this QSA is restricted to be used for environmental mitigation requirements associated with water transfers. The IID is also just one of the water authorities in the joint powers authority.

According to the information summary, $85.4 million through three state propositions will be used for part of the plan. Federal funding makes up $8.3 million, with most of this being used for agricultural dust suppression and wetlands projects.

On the local level $68.5 million through the Salton Sea Restoration Limit will be used for various restoration activities,

Antonio Ortega, governmental affairs officer and communications officer for IID, said the district participated in last week’s Salton Sea roundtable meeting.

IID and Imperial County representatives discussed with Crowfoot and Assistant Secretary of Salton Sea Policy, Arturo Delgado, the progress of the state’s Salton Sea Management Program.

Ortega said local stakeholders had an opportunity to ask questions. Overall, he added, it was informative.

“For its part, IID continues to make the Salton Sea a priority, and it is our hope this positive momentum leads to construction of projects on the ground,” he said.