Sunday, July 08, 2007

Salton Sea, part 3

Part 1 of the Salton Sea blog: (here).
Part 2 of the Salton Sea blog: (here).
This was our final stop on the shores of the sea proper. It sort of caught us by surprise, since we'd concluded there was nothing left on that side of the sea. Shoulda done our homework.
Oh yeah, the whole place is below sea level. No wonder water likes to go there whenever it gets the chance.
And the pictures at the Visitor Center of the old 50s station wagons filled with Leave It To Beaver families were precious. If you ever find a time machine, please share it. There are so many places I want to go, but in the past or future.
Hard to say if it'll get fixed. It keeps getting saltier, which will eventually kill it. It has an escalating nutrient load from, among other things, farm fertilizer and phosphates, which cause algal blooms, which will eventually kill it by sucking up the oxygen.

Here's how one official described that latter problem: "[P]icture a ten-gallon fish tank sitting in your home. You have ten fish in it, a few plants, you circulate the water, add oxygen and food -- life is good. Add forty more fish, stop circulating the water, throw in several cans worth of fish food, warm the water real nice and what do you expect will happen? You’re right: system collapse. As the Salton Sea’s nutrient level increases life becomes more difficult. Eventually its systems will fail due to this over abundance of life."

There's also the possibility the sea could die a third way: Thirsty California cities could succeed politically in grabbing (diverting) the water that currently drains into the sea, in which case the salt and nutrient problems would multiply dramatically and, eventually, the sea could simply ... dry up.
But, for the moment, this is the view out the window of the Visitor Center. It looks beautiful, but, as I've laid out in these three posts (first post here - second post here), the problems of the Salton Sea are myriad and very, very serious.

In closing, here's a couple of sexy links from which you can learn lots more:

Salton Sea Authority: "Salton Sea 101"

Web site of the documentary film Plagues & Pleasures on the Salton Sea
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