NPR logo

California Weighs Solutions to a Shrinking Sea

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/6874452/6874453" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript
California Weighs Solutions to a Shrinking Sea

Environment

California Weighs Solutions to a Shrinking Sea

California Weighs Solutions to a Shrinking Sea

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/6874452/6874453" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

In the lower corner of eastern California, you'll find the Salton Sea. It's not really a sea, but it is the Golden State's largest lake and a prime resting spot for thousands of migrating birds. But the sea is evaporating — and getting too salty to sustain wildlife. So the state is proposing ten different ways to save the habitat, with each option costing millions of dollars.

The Salton Sea sits about 50 miles south of Palm Springs, in the heart of the Imperial Valley Desert. Farming is king, thanks to irrigated Colorado River water. And it's the salty agricultural runoff that fills the sea along with nearby rivers, like the New River coming out of Mexico.

The alternatives range from doing almost nothing to a plan that farmers and environmentalists favor that would build circular dikes in the lake. Proponents believe the dikes will give the sea a shallow shoreline for the birds, while pushing a lot of the salt into the center of the sea.

Finding a plan that everyone agrees upon is going to be difficult.