Gov. Stephen Roe Lewis of the Gila River Indian Community said in a statement Thursday that a decision by House Speaker Rusty Bowers to move forward with a contentious water bill threatens the community’s plan to support the drought agreement. The Gila River Indian Community’s involvement is key because it’s entitled to about a fourth of the Colorado River water that passes through the Central Arizona Project’s canal.
Ominous predictions about the desert lake’s ecological collapse are beginning to occur. You can see this sea up close during our Lower Colorado River Tour, Feb. 27-March 1, when we will visit the fragile ecosystem and hear from several stakeholders working to address challenges facing the sea.
A year after Colorado River imports were diverted to urban areas from farms draining into the lake, dire predictions about what would occur are coming to pass. A long-predicted, enormous ecological transition is occurring this winter.
A notice published recently in the Federal Register is not sitting well with Imperial Irrigation District. That notice, submitted by the Department of Interior through the Bureau of Reclamation and published on Feb. 1, calls recommendations from the governors of the seven Colorado River Basin state for protective actions the Department of Interior should take in the absence of a completed drought contingency plan.
A major deadline just passed without unanimous agreement among Western states over the future of the Colorado River, so the federal government is one step closer to stepping in on the dwindling river that provides water for 1-in-8 Americans. The path forward has become murkier for the drought-stricken region now in its 19th year of low water levels after a January 31 deadline failed to garner signed agreements from Arizona and California.
Did the goalposts just move on us? … Media reports suggest that Reclamation is lumping Arizona with California, which clearly did not meet the deadline, in its reasoning for taking an action that we had all hoped to avoid. It’s easy to feel betrayed by that, to conclude that Arizona was asked to move mountains and then when we did, we were told it still wasn’t good enough.
Fearing an imminent public health threat, the director of the University of California, Irvine’s Salton Sea Initiative said the State Water Resources Control Board should step in and regulate the rate of water transferred from the Imperial Valley to coastal California as part of the Quantification Settlement Agreement.
The Clinton Foundation’s public workshop will feature speakers from environmental groups, public health advocates, state and local agencies. It is the Clinton Foundation’s second workshop devoted to the Salton Sea.
“The Army Corps of Engineers is budgeting $200,000 next year for work relating to the Salton Sea, a step that local officials say may clear the way for more federal government involvement in projects aimed at protecting habitats and keeping dust down as the lake recedes.”
From The Sacramento Bee, in Stephanie Taylor’s California Sketches series:
“The North Shore Beach Yacht Club opened in the early 1960s, attracting a glamorous crowd – Frank Sinatra, Jerry Lewis and the Beach Boys. An hour southeast of Palm Springs, California’s largest lake attracted thousands who came to fish, camp and boat.”
“It’s hard to be optimistic about the Salton Sea. After years of political rhetoric and study after study, we can’t think of a more frustrating issue in this region that has been debated so thoroughly with so little progress. The state’s $8.9 billion preferred plan issued in 2007 — and never enacted — landed with a giant thud that crippled creative solutions.”
“Plans to develop renewable energy as a way to fund restoration and conservation projects at the Salton Sea could be premature without at least a preliminary plan on what the restoration will look like, which in turn may depend on figuring out the funding sources for those efforts.”
“Progress toward an environmental solution at the declining Salton Sea may be unbearably slow for some observers. However, there have been some important achievements in the last year, said officials at the seventh annual Renewable Energy Summit at Quechan Casino Resort on Thursday.
“For instance, the Imperial Irrigation District and Imperial County set aside years of litigation and acrimony to jointly advance a restoration plan for the S