Salton Sea Task Force

In May of 2015, Governor Edmund G. Brown formed the Salton Sea Task Force with principle staff and appointed members of the Governor’s Office, Natural Resources Agency, California Environmental Protection Agency, State Water Resources Control Board, Air Resources Board and Energy Commission. The Task Force was directed to identify realistic short and medium term goals to respond to air quality and ecological threats at the sea resulting from scheduled reduced flows of fresh water to the sea.

Salton Sea Task Force
Agency Actions

The implementation of sustainable habitat and air quality management and mitigation at the Salton Sea through a Salton Sea Management Program is critical for the protection of regional air quality, natural resources at the sea, and the management of a stable Colorado River Supply for California. The Salton Sea Task Force recognizes the contributions of the local leadership, plans, and initiatives that have informed the Task Force process. Following meetings with key stakeholders, the Task Force finds that implementation of a successful Salton Sea Management Program depends on the following three principles: 1) strong state, federal, and local partnerships; 2) clear and achievable milestones with state-directed plans to achieve them; and 3) committed participation from all stakeholders who share the goals of protecting air quality, reducing habitat impacts, and maintaining a secure Colorado River Water Supply. These three factors will drive decision-making on a short- and a medium-term plan while leveraging fiscal and technical resources to deliver projects in an expedited manner.

The Natural Resources Agency will take the following actions over an accelerated timeline:

  • Begin immediate implementation and further development of Salton Sea management plan
    • The plan will prioritize actions that respond to air quality and natural resources impacts while incorporating opportunities for regional economic development, including recreational and renewable opportunities that benefit implementation of the plan.
    • A science advisory committee will be utilized to provide scientific expertise into plan development.
    • Colorado River stakeholders will be asked to assist with the development of the plan. The Salton Sea Authority and its members will be asked to help facilitate local involvement.
  • Improve public outreach and local partnership
    • Air quality and environmental impacts of a reduced Salton Sea will be felt foremost by the residents of the region. The state will provide a meaningful public forum to discuss Salton Sea issues locally and to develop future plans and actions.
  • Accelerate project implementation and delivery
    • The state will work with Salton Sea, Colorado River partners to accelerate planning, state and federal permitting and construction.
  • Meet a short-term goal of 9,000-12,000 acres of habitat creation and dust suppression projects at the sea
    • Projects to meet short-term goals will be achievable with available funding.
    • Short-term projects will address dust suppression and natural resources needs while laying the foundation for a long-term Salton Sea management framework.
    • Projects will be staged to address the expected progression of playa exposure and designed to provide access corridors for renewable energy development on those lands.
  • Set medium-term goal of 18,000-25,000 acres of habitat creation and dust suppression projects at the sea
    • Funding plans to meet medium-term goals will need to be developed by the state with Salton Sea and Colorado River partners.

Ensure Oversight by Regulatory Agencies:

  • The State Water Resources Control Board will regularly monitor and assess progress on the implementation of the Salton Sea Management Program, including the development of management plans and funding options, and any potential action by the State Board.
  • The State Water Resources Control Board will periodically hold public workshops as part of its monitoring and assessment function.
  • The State Water Resources Control Board will work with the Colorado River Regional Water Board and the Administration to improve water quality and upstream co-benefits in the New River and the Alamo River.
  • The California Air Resources Board will coordinate with local partners to address air quality impacts from the Salton Sea, work with Imperial and South Coast air districts to monitor air quality, and provide technical and scientific expertise to ensure effective mitigation of dust impacts from exposed playa.

Consider opportunities for increasing renewable energy development at and around the Salton Sea:

  • As part of the implementation of the Clean Energy and Pollution Reduction Act of 2015 (SB 350), the California Energy Commission and the Public Utilities Commission will evaluate how renewables at and around the Salton Sea will further the goals of the integrated resources plans, including a balanced resource mix and the minimization of localized air pollutants.
  • Within the next year, as part of planning to meet the 2030 greenhouse gas goals, the Public Utilities Commission, the Energy Commission and the Independent System Operator will consider renewable energy opportunities at and around the Salton Sea and the region, and any additional transmission that may be needed for the near term or long term.