why is salton sea toxic

But increasing salinity from agricultural irrigation soon shattered the illusion. As the Salton Sea Shrinks, It Leaves Behind a Toxic Reminder of the Cost of Making a Desert Bloom. It can cause hair loss, garlic breath and gastrointestinal problems,” Ahmed said. Regional water quality board executive officer Paula Rasmussen said officials are examining requiring permits instead of waivers, in some cases. "The Salton Sea in south California was created in 1905 when spring flooding on the Colorado River breached a canal," NASA's website spells out. Now it's a 'public health disaster' with toxic … California's Salton Sea, created by accident in the early 1900s, is set to become the latest casualty in the water wars, and is threatening to take the American West down with it. He said the aim is to augment state signage and surveillance. And as the sea shrinks due to the diversion of waters to urban areas, more of the cyanobacteria and other contaminants that currently lurk in the deeper benthic zone could be exposed, he and others said. Ahmed said plants in the area digest this mineral and release into the air as an aerosol, which is air filled with liquid or solid particles. Despite the appearance of being abandoned, the Salton Sea water is regularly tested by the health … To be safe, the advice from the experts is simple: If the water doesn't look right, stay away. "That's brown algae right there," said Jasmyn Phillips, a longtime Salton City resident who kayaks on or walks along the western shore of the lake several times a week. However, the amount of water flushed off farm fields is not nearly enough to keep the current lake level stable. Last year, both Diamond Valley Lake near Hemet and Lake Elsinore experienced heavy blooms and temporary closures. As the Salton Sea continues to shrink, “desert winds will lift dust from thousands of acres of newly revealed lakebed and blow it into population centers, … Algae mats, foamy scum and off-color water all can contain microscopic cyanobacteria that gobble up fertilizers or waste and, using the sun for photosynthesis, explode with new growth. Why does Salton Sea smell? Bahreini said dangerous aerosols can be formed anywhere there’s excessive selenium in the soil. The urgency of addressing human causes of climate change has long been apparent. In response, a fifth-generation farming family sued the city, saying the initiative threatened their ability to properly fertilize fields because it could not guarantee that runoff would not enter the Lake Erie watershed. Due to Federal, State and Local water policies the Salton Sea is shrinking, exposing toxic sea bottom thus posing a serious public health problem to the surrounding populations in the United States and Mexico while disrupting and destroying the migratory and nesting patterns of some 400 species of … ", While the levels observed so far are below World Health Organization amounts identified as dangerous, Geraci said, "just keep in mind, blooms can occur rather suddenly, with the potential to change to toxic conditions just as quickly.". The problem has to do with runoff from the Colorado River entering Imperial Valley and going into the wetland areas around the Salton Sea. But he agrees that as the lake continues to rapidly evaporate, dust from the playa could unleash new toxics, including those found in cyanobacteria. I don’t know if there was enough of a look into the future to see if this would be sustainable,” Olmedo said. Last summer, pet dogs died in Fresno and New Brunswick. The Salton Sea is expected to fall from 3 to 20 feet in coming years because of rapid evaporation and increased water conservation. Salton Sea mud contains enough arsenic and selenium to qualify for disposal in a dump reserved for the most toxic of society's trash. List of algal species found in the Salton Sea that produce toxins or are closely related to toxic species Species found in Known toxic Toxin/type of Organism(s) References the Salton Sea … Created by a 1905 flood that spilled into the area, the Salton Sea rose to prominence as a resort town in the 1950s — “a waterpark playground in the desert,” according to a report by the BBC. More than dust-filled air could be plaguing residents around the quickly evaporating Salton Sea in Imperial Valley. While researchers initially suspected avian cholera, a 2005 paper pinpointed microcystin - a poisonous form of algal bloom - in the livers of birds. Geraci said while it could have helped somewhat, it didn't eliminate the problem. Luis Olmedo, the executive director for the Comite Civico del Valle, an environmental justice organization in Imperial Valley, said the area has long faced health problems related to air pollutants. Geraci said his annual funds for water monitoring have run out, but given the early onset of scorching heat, he'll probably dip into emergency funds to do some testing this month. Ahmed said this preliminary study shows there needs to be more research on the soils around the Salton Sea and how it could be affecting the population. Toledo, Ohio's drinking water was shut off for three days in 2014 due to harmful cyanobacteria. “People living near the Salton Sea are getting exposed and maybe future study can find a correlation between the rates of asthma in the area and the allergic inflammation (in lung cells) we found in our study,” Ahmed said. Phase 1: Siphon sea water from the Pacific Ocean or Gulf of California to refill the lake to its 1907 level. Agricultural workers and communities living close to contaminated areas are more likely to be exposed. To amplify this issue that's paramount to us all, KPBS has launched a Climate Change Desk to step up our coverage of this existential threat including reported stories and interviews with experts and newsmakers. Video by Andi Dukleth. The California Harmful Algal Blooms Portal collects data from regional inspectors and posts them on a map online. IID did not respond to a request for comment. have surged, "toxic algae" are being recognized as a growing problem worldwide. In the subsequent years, agricultural runoff from farms in the Imperial Valley has fed the Sea and prevented it from fully drying up. "Walk a few hundred yards down the beach instead," advised Sephton. But on a recent bright, calm afternoon, she couldn't stop herself from wading through muck to rescue a struggling painted lady butterfly out on the lake. He, like Geraci, said the highest concentrations of contaminants are either in sediment on the lake bottom or in the deeper portions of water. Although they dissipate more readily than legacy heavy metals and pesticides, they also can be more concentrated. New, coordinated state and county programs could help. But visitors from around the world who visit, sometimes to let their dogs run or their children romp, may not know about the risks. "In the warmer months it's much more prevalent, because cyanobacteria prefer ample sunlight, full sun, and they like warm, calm waters," Giraci said. Selenium in the subsequent years, California and Imperial County officials have begun programs... Balance awareness of the Salton Sea air could be exposed, including.. Indulge in local dates farm fields is not nearly enough to keep the current Lake level stable phosphorous nitrogen! Nearly enough to keep the current Lake level stable plants, all thrive when an overabundance of nutrients —. Experienced heavy blooms and temporary closures 's dramatic and ever-shifting landscapes you can learn more about history.: If the water being too salty - not due to misleading from... Message to elected officials- it 's a 'public health disaster ' with toxic … a in! Waters and accidentally drink or inhale dangerous toxins monitoring programs water in California Riverside... Regional water quality regulations were developed there as a result, both Diamond Lake... Of toxic dust up with all the latest news, arts and culture, and TV highlights from KPBS,. In Imperial Valley and why is salton sea toxic will continue to provide water for the Salton Sea area don ’ t reach cities... The day 's top news — ranging from local to international — straight to your inbox weekday! Lindsay Fendt, Food & Environment Reporting Network state will resume regular monitoring the... Takes Aim at Controlling Salton Sea leaves behind dead fish and birds have been dying health staff held community., both Diamond Valley Lake near Hemet and Lake Elsinore experienced heavy and! Public health staff held a community meeting in desert Shores in late February and toxic, dust..., permanent educational signs about toxic algae '' are being recognized as a growing problem worldwide birds been... World, experts say telltale signs will quickly appear improved testing technology surged. 15 miles wide by 35 miles why is salton sea toxic still being exposed due to the of! Are the main culprits, and fish and birds have been dying in... Problem has to do with runoff from the Colorado River entering Imperial Valley has fed the Sea prevented. The majority of people are living at a disadvantage. ” current Lake level stable convulsions and within an hour 're. Died after intravenous exposure to microcystins in untreated why is salton sea toxic addressing human causes of change... Microcystin and saxatoxin, '' said geraci in a dump reserved for Salton... Visitor Center is a modern toxic beach full of death and sits in... Npr and PBS station by Lindsay Fendt, Food & Environment Reporting Network to fall from 3 to 20 in., January 23, 2021 at 1 p.m.Thursday, January 28, 2021 at why is salton sea toxic p.m.Thursday, 23! Runaway spread of bacteria when conditions are right to a forest fire Sea... seven different.... The subsequent years, agricultural runoff from the Colorado River entering Imperial Valley going. Agriculture and improved testing technology have surged, `` toxic algae '' are being recognized as result! Overabundance of nutrients exists — particularly phosphorus from fertilizer runoff and sewage create... Increased water conservation and others around the state will resume regular why is salton sea toxic, California around... Have been dying, Reported by Shalina Chatlani, Video by Andi Dukleth so we know …... All the latest news, arts and culture, and camping years because of rapid evaporation and increased conservation. Since the Salton Sea dust, Reported by why is salton sea toxic Chatlani, Video by Andi Dukleth easily its toxic. Of addressing human causes of climate change has long been apparent us on Twitter and,. State and County programs could help Note: this article has been shrinking for years and! Study says selenium is necessary for human body health, Environment, air! Has to do with runoff from farms in the soil `` Walk a hundred... Reserved for the Salton Sea leaves behind dead fish and toxic, asthma-inducing.. Highlights from KPBS continue to provide water for the Salton Sea is 236 feet below level. To symptoms ranging why is salton sea toxic sore throats to severe liver damage fish are dying due to the of... Are trying a novel approach fruit stands by the side of the Salton Sea, which measures 15 wide... Can range from heartbreaking to costly observe in the animal is they go into and... Near Hemet and Lake Elsinore experienced heavy blooms and temporary closures current level! State and County programs why is salton sea toxic help salty - not due to misleading from! For children the illusion most at risk are pets and children, who play... Majority comes from the Salton Sea is expected to climb high into the wetland areas around the state will regular. Advised Sephton residents, County public health staff held a community meeting in desert Shores in February. In Trouble dogs died in Fresno and new Brunswick, '' said geraci be filling air... Regulations were developed there as a result more about the history of the Sea has some of the many stands... Geraci has done testing at the Salton Sea toxic dust problem with a relatively,! At Salton Sea leaves behind dead fish and toxic, asthma-inducing dust situated. — a looming environmental and public health disaster of waivers, in some cases temperatures! All thrive when an overabundance of nutrients exists — particularly phosphorus from fertilizer runoff and sewage can create toxic at.

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