When the California Department of Pesticide Regulation considered using drones to help with their water quality research and management, we were there to show them the different options.
We had a great time flying over the New River in Imperial County. The folks from DPR learned a lot about drones and we learned a lot about Salton Sea water quality from them. It was a memorable experience for all.
A few years ago we visited Owens Valley and the once lakeside town of Keeler.
Owens Lake was never restored after LA diverted it's water. The dust storms were intense. The environmental disaster was only mitigated by expensive dust abatement methods.
The Salton Sea residents are also victims of environmental injustice. The term restoration has been replaced by mitigation. Outsiders that visit call our communities ghost towns. It may sound dramatic in their Instagram posts but how does it help those of us still living here?
We are forgotten, neglected and buried under dust of future storms.
Keeler is often described as abandoned but it's not. The words of a woman I spoke to will forever haunt me: "Don't you know, this is a ghost town. I'm not really here, you can't actually see me". Perhaps that statement is a reflection of feeling invisible to the authorities and water agencies that stole their life-giving water so many years ago
After a water main burst, the awesome Coachella Valley Water District crew came all the way out from Palm Desert to fix it.
The system was flushed out, sanitized and for about 20 minutes water gushed from a hydrant into the nearby and near-dry canals. It was incredible to hear the water pour into the Keys! Every little bit helps 💙
Aerial photos of West Shores Keys. Seaside communities once had channels that connected to the Salton Sea. But the canals are now cut off, getting saltier and drying up.
Since the 2003 agreement to transfer more Colorado River water from farms in Imperial Valley to cities on the coast, the Salton Sea is losing elevation. The agreement also gave the State 15 years to come up with a restoration plan.
View of the Desert Shores Keys from EMC property. The red water is hypersaline. The vibrant color is a result of salt-loving microorganisms that do not produce toxins, but rather pigments like beta carotene. You will see the same phenomenon in salt evaporation ponds around the world.
Also, note the birds in the water on the right. They are gulls and we believe they are feeding on dead boatman bugs (corixids). When the bugs decay, a substance called trimethylamine is produced which causes a fishy odor. As the gulls eat the corixids the smell is eliminated. Thank you, birdies!
Welcome to beautiful Bombay Beach at the Salton Sea. It's not a ghost town and the Sea is not dead! Our shoreline communities are very much alive and NOT just because of the eclectic art installations and celebrations.
If people would only see past the quiet streets and old buildings they may just learn how resilient LIFE can be even in challenging circumstances 💙
Life finds a way. Don't write off the Salton Sea as dead. It's not. I know many people post pics of fish bones and old buildings but it's NOT the whole story. It's a sensationalized version of the real story - there is life here and it is persisting despite challenges. We should help it thrive; the people and the ecosystem 💜
The once blue and beautiful Owens Lake was desiccated in the 1920s. According to USGS it created the single largest source of PM-10 dust in the United States. Air pollution from the emissive lakebed became a significant health threat.
We documented the 3 main types of dust control methods used: shallow flooding, managed vegetation and gravel. The mitigation measures have reduced airborne particles but only cover a portion of the lakebed.
Shallow flooding covers 79% of the treated area. At $25,000 cost per acre, it requires pumps, pipes and large amounts of H2O - 95,000 acre feet/year.
Managed vegetation consists of native saltgrass. To establish vegetation in first year requires 7 acre feet of water per acre and 2.5 acre feet per acre to maintain half. Due to high maintenance and water use it covers 8% of treated area. Cost is $25,000 per acre.