As Salton Sea faces ecological collapse, a plan to save it with ocean water is rejected
Nathaniel Brown and Rachel King
11 June 2018
The Salton Sea, a freshwater lake between South America and the US state of California, once hosted one of the largest fish populations in the world. But water levels have fallen by one third in the past two decades, severely threatening the marine ecosystem. The Salton Sea is projected to shrink to less than 10 percent of its former size within the next 40 years.
And it is only one of six saline lakes around the world to lose more than half their freshwater by 2050 when its water is largely used for agriculture. The six are the Aral Sea in Central Asia, the Persian Gulf, the Elbe Estuary in Germany, the Salton Sea in Southern California, the Lower Niger River in Nigeria, and the Great Lakes in the US.
When they started as fresh water lakes they were much larger than they are now, covering 2 million acres. But their shrinking, salinization, and water pollution led to their current status, according to the report. The Salton Sea is located in a state that is among the poorest in the US, with the lowest quality of life, including the highest rate of homicide.
“The Salton Sea has lost most of its freshwater over the last few decades, and is the biggest freshwater lake in the world,” said Salton Sea advocate and professor of geography, Thomas Cade.
These six lakes, along with the Aral Sea, are at the core of a global strategy that seeks to reverse global water crises, and create opportunities for the poor, including by creating water-management systems that will reduce poverty and help people.
The report highlights that freshwater is a major source of freshwater for the future, and is a valuable economic resource. It says that freshwater has the potential to create millions of jobs, especially in the developing countries, and that freshwater accounts for 80 percent of global renewable water resources and 40 percent of freshwater supply.
However, as the most productive freshwater resource, freshwater is being wasted in all its forms: surface, groundwater, and deep water, and is also being polluted by human activities.
This is a crisis that needs to be addressed urgently, and the report’s call to governments is to “create and invest in water management systems that can provide good quality water for everyone.”
For a country like Australia, the report notes that a third