A Coachella Valley lawmaker today announced a campaign to spur restoration of the Salton Sea. Assemblyman V. Manuel Perez, D-Coachella, said the “Save Our Sea” campaign would take a “multi-level approach” via legislation and an audit of how restoration funds were used.
The first bill, the Salton Sea Restoration Governance Act, would require the state Natural Resources Agency to work with the local Salton Sea Authority, which includes local governments, water agencies and Native American tribes.
Under AB 71, a technical advisory group would be formed to guide decision-making related to the sea and would authorize funding from the Salton Sea Restoration Fund for the Salton Sea Authority to prepare a restoration funding and feasibility study.
The next bill, the Salton Sea Air Pollution Mitigation Act (AB 147), would require the preparation of a plan to address air pollution at the Salton Sea like dust and chemicals, and ways to pay mitigation costs.
The third bill, AB 148, would authorize the Natural Resources Agency and Salton Sea Authority to establish a Salton Sea Renewable Energy & Biofuel Research and Development Program.
The program would award grants for research and commercial development of renewable and biofuel energy resources in the Salton Sea basin.
All three bills are awaiting assignment to Assembly committees, according to Perez’s office.
Perez also asked the state’s Joint Legislative Audit Committee for an audit of how the Department of Fish & Game and the Department of Water Resources managed funds in the Salton Sea Restoration Fund.
The Salton Sea covers 365 square miles in the Imperial and Coachella valleys and faces a “long-term and costly restoration due to the effects of a receding shoreline,” according to Perez’s office.
A rural-to-urban water transfer, the Quantification Settlement Agreement, will drop water levels “dramatically,” starting in 2017, and up to 100 square miles of dusty lakebed will be exposed in the next few decades, according to Perez’s office.