Salton Sea
An old swing set stands alone in the Salton Sea. Photo by Shae Hammond for CalMatters

California Senators Alex Padilla and Dianne Feinstein introduced a bill on Friday to expand federal authority over the ecologically threatened Salton Sea east of San Diego County.

The Salton Sea Projects Improvements Act would significantly expand the ability of the Bureau of Reclamation to partner with state, local, and tribal governments to address the public health and environmental crisis at the Salton Sea.

The bill also increases the amount the Bureau of Reclamation is authorized to spend towards these efforts from $10 million to $250 million. 

The legislation was originally introduced in the House of Representatives by Rep. Raul Ruiz of Coachella earlier this year.  

“The joint environmental and health crises at the Salton Sea have been neglected for too long, and the impacts of that neglect have wreaked havoc on the environment and surrounding communities,” said Padilla. 

“This bill will begin to provide the necessary federal investments to protect critical habitat, improve air quality for the largely disadvantaged communities who live nearby, and boost the local economy through expanded recreational opportunities,” he said.

The giant inland sea is receding in size as water from the Colorado River is diverted to cities and farms, leaving dry expanses that spawn toxic dust clouds.

Chris Jennewein is Editor & Publisher of Times of San Diego.