PALM DESERT – The Salton Sea Authority approved a resolution of support for the Salton Sea Restoration and Renewable Energy Initiative on Thursday.
“As we move forward on the restoration and the renewable initiative, it’s going to become very important that that we all get on the same page,” said Jim Hanks, Imperial Irrigation District director and Salton Sea Authority president.
The Salton Sea Restoration and Renewable Energy Initiative would use revenue generated by new renewable energy projects to fund environmental mitigation and restoration efforts at the Salton Sea. The initiative was started by the IID and formalized with a memorandum of understanding with the county of Imperial.
“This is a foundation that we’re building off of, moving towards trying to create an opportunity for the state to meet their obligation, as well as recognizing how we can locally contribute to that restoration effort,” said Ryan Kelley, Imperial County supervisor and Salton Sea Authority director.
Coachella Valley Water District Director of Operations Dan Farris spoke in favor of the initiative.
“Anyone who would oppose the idea of using renewable energy as a way to start restoration of the Salton Sea would be a knucklehead,” he said.
However, he was concerned that the document gives the impression that the Salton Sea is declining because of the Quantification Settlement Agreement.
“The Salton Sea has been in decline for decades. … California was overusing its entitlement of Colorado River water. The federal government rightly asked California to get back to 4.4 (million acre-feet of water per year), so the QSA was passed to meet the 4.4…” Farris said.
The QSA is the set of contracts that underpin the nation’s largest agriculture to urban water transfer. It shifts water from the Imperial Irrigation District to the Coachella Valley Water District and San Diego County Water Authority.
“We all signed on to the QSA with a duty to defend. And the duty to defend means all the parties in all the contracts. And in that contract, it has an agreement on the mitigation of the sea and restoration,” Hanks responded.
“I want to make sure that those who live at some distance from the sea do not get the impression that it’s going to die and we’re going to do nothing,” he said.
The Salton Sea is California’s largest inland lake, and it is receding rapidly. Local officials and environmentalists worry that the fine silt on the sea’s exposed shoreline could become airborne, further afflicting an area already burdened with some of the highest child asthma hospitalization rates in the state.
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