Department of the Interior and Salton Sea Authority Sign Joint Memorandum of Understanding

MOU Improves Collaboration to Address Salton Sea Resources

Last edited 09/29/2021

WASHINGTON – Department of the Interior Assistant Secretary for Water and Science Anne Castle has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Salton Sea Authority to improve collaboration between federal, tribal and local entities on natural resource issues involving the Salton Sea. The MOU is a key step in cementing each party's commitment to find collaborative solutions to resource challenges, to share available technical and scientific information and expertise, and to prioritize partnerships to improve resource conditions in and around the Sea.

"We support the push for practical and implementable projects to protect the resources of the Salton Sea and surrounding communities," said Castle. "The Department has a key role to play – ensuring that these efforts are prioritized and based on the best available technical and scientific information."

Joining Assistant Secretary Castle in Washington, D.C., for the signing were Salton Sea Authority President James Hanks and officials from the Imperial Irrigation District, Imperial County, and the California Natural Resources Agency.

"The decline of the Salton Sea's size, water quality and habitat will reach a tipping point after 2017, when mitigation flows to the Salton Sea cease and the local impacts of the largest agriculture-to-urban water conservation and transfer program rapidly materialize," Hanks said. "It's important that we do all we can now. By helping the sea, we protect the Imperial Valley and the region."

The Salton Sea Authority is a joint powers agency created under California law in 1993 for the purpose of ensuring the beneficial uses of the Salton Sea. The Authority is comprised of the following cooperating agencies: Coachella Valley Water District, Imperial Irrigation District, Imperial and Riverside counties, and the Torres Martinez Desert Cahuilla Indians.

The Department of the Interior has diverse interests and roles at the Salton Sea involving many agencies within the Department including the Bureau of Reclamation, Bureau of Indian Affairs, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Bureau of Land Management and the U.S. Geological Survey. Ongoing pilot projects administered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's Red Hill Bay project are the type of projects that can protect the environmental resources of the Sea as well as improve conditions for local communities.

The Salton Sea is located in Southern California in Imperial and Riverside counties. With an average area of approximately 375 square miles, it is the largest lake in California. The Salton Sea is a terminal body of water affected by a number of natural and anthropogenic processes, such as increasing salinity concentration. Rainfall in the region averages less than three inches per year and inflow is comprised primarily of agricultural runoff with smaller contributions from the New, Alamo, and Whitewater rivers. The Salton Sea provides critical habitat and is a key stopover point for migratory birds along the Pacific Flyway.

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