Salton Sea.
Salton Sea. Photo by Chris Stone

Legislation introduced by Sen. Steve Padilla of San Diego to create the Salton Sea Conservancy moved forward this week with a unanimous vote in the state Senate.

Senate Bill 583 would create a new state agency to unify California’s efforts to expedite preservation, protect residents’ health, and foster ecological recovery of the shrinking sea.

“The environmental calamity at the Salton Sea is decades in the making,” said Padilla. “It is going to take unprecedented collaboration at all levels of governmental to adequately address this challenge.”

“A conservancy would strengthen that necessary coordination and give local voices greater control in how limited state resources are spent addressing this crisis,” he said.

The lake was created in 1905 when flood-stage water from the Colorado River burst through irrigation canals into a centuries-old dry lake bed in the Imperial Valley.

“The Salton Sea is on life support, but a lack of coordination between the different members of its health team is hampering its recovery,” said Frank Ruiz, director of Audubon California’s Salton Sea Program.

“A conservancy would provide a single administrative umbrella to improve coordination between the Salton Sea Authority and other government agencies, tribes, as well as community and conservation organizations, allowing them to work more effectively together to save the Salton Sea,” Ruiz added

SB 583 received bipartisan support and passed the Senate on a 39-0 vote. The bill now heads Assembly.

Padilla represents the 18th Senate District, which stretches from Imperial Beach along the border into the Imperial Valley.

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