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bubba

Salton Sea

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bubba

My understanding of the Salton Sea was that it was a phenomena accidentally created in 1905 when the Colorado River flowed into the Imperial and Coachella Valley‘s in the California desert through a comedy of errors. It’s surface area is 343 mi.² with a maximum depth of 43 feet. At one time it was embraced as a tourist attraction but now is viewed as a major problem.

A large amount of press is devoted to the characterization of the Salton Sea as an ecological disaster. Rotten smells create odor advisories to the Pacific Ocean. This is caused by decaying organic matter under the water, which arises from a naturally occurring chemical, hydrogen sulfide. The press deems the Salton Sea as a “creator of toxic dust from a dying lake”.

What I have not seen revealed by the press is the fact that the Salton Sea is a natural cycle that occurs approximately every 400 years. It last occurred around 1600 AD and is evidenced by ancient Indian fish traps in the area.

My question is how a naturally occurring phenomenon can be considered an ecological disaster? Has not human overpopulation been overlooked by the press as the real issue? 

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Ed in Houston
20 minutes ago, bubba said:

My question is how a naturally occurring phenomenon can be considered an ecological disaster?

The same way that Homo sapiens occurred naturally and are an ecological disaster.

Ed in Houston

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bubba

I think we are stating the same thing but I believe the press is wrongfully pointing the finger in the Salton Sea matter at the naturally occurring lake...

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Chris Chance

I had done research a while back out of curiosity. The problem with the Salton sea is so much run off from the fields in the area over the years has  concentrated in the sea along with natural occurring mud volcanos. Everything flows into it and never leaves so it got worse and worse. Eventually as it dries out it will expose dust that basically consists of fish and everything else that's in the lake will blow all over and create other problems. Maybe one day they can come up with ideas but everything that's been presented would cost way too much and might not work.

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Silas_Sancona
16 minutes ago, Chris Chance said:

I had done research a while back out of curiosity. The problem with the Salton sea is so much run off from the fields in the area over the years has  concentrated in the sea along with natural occurring mud volcanos. Everything flows into it and never leaves so it got worse and worse. Eventually as it dries out it will expose dust that basically consists of fish and everything else that's in the lake will blow all over and create other problems. Maybe one day they can come up with ideas but everything that's been presented would cost way too much and might not work.

Yep, did a similar dive into the how's and why's regarding the issues involving the Salton..  As you mention, the biggest fear is many ( many ) years worth of residue chemicals being released as what's left of the sea continues to dry out, if the current trend isn't reversed or stabilized, much like what happened in the Owens Valley some time ago. 

As far as solutions,  as you said.. lots of questions as to how effective any would be but,  do think the ideas revolving around digging some sort of canal ..( Might not be the right word.. cant think of the right term atm..) from the Sea of Cortez, to the Laguna Salada.. then up to the Salton would make sense..  Have heard that such an idea could be utilized as a port for both cruise and cargo bearing ships.. 

Same vision divides the Salton into several sections that both stabilize water levels, provide new / rehab existing wildlife habitat, and open up the region to renewed tourism / development.. 

 In the end, one good tug or two along the San Andres could solve the problem entirely..  Only thing that has stopped the Sea of Cortez from filling the Salton basin is what is essentially a giant sand dune that follows I-8 between Ocotillo and Yuma.. and straddles the border between the US and Mexico.  Isn't much elevation on either side of it either.  One reason digging some sort of lock / canal  system ( or two ) would be relatively easy, should such a project be done in the future..  

Question now, is saving the Salton worth it to enough people... 

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DoomsDave
7 hours ago, bubba said:

My understanding of the Salton Sea was that it was a phenomena accidentally created in 1905 when the Colorado River flowed into the Imperial and Coachella Valley‘s in the California desert through a comedy of errors. It’s surface area is 343 mi.² with a maximum depth of 43 feet. At one time it was embraced as a tourist attraction but now is viewed as a major problem.

A large amount of press is devoted to the characterization of the Salton Sea as an ecological disaster. Rotten smells create odor advisories to the Pacific Ocean. This is caused by decaying organic matter under the water, which arises from a naturally occurring chemical, hydrogen sulfide. The press deems the Salton Sea as a “creator of toxic dust from a dying lake”.

What I have not seen revealed by the press is the fact that the Salton Sea is a natural cycle that occurs approximately every 400 years. It last occurred around 1600 AD and is evidenced by ancient Indian fish traps in the area.

My question is how a naturally occurring phenomenon can be considered an ecological disaster? Has not human overpopulation been overlooked by the press as the real issue? 

Bubba! So good to see you!

Hmm. Okay, just starting . . . .

Just because something's natural - does that mean it's not an ecological disaster?

On the other hand, how does one define disaster?

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Ed in Houston
10 minutes ago, DoomsDave said:

On the other hand, how does one define disaster?

I would call this a disaster.

"The Holocene extinction, otherwise referred to as the sixth mass extinction or Anthropocene extinction, is an ongoing extinction event of species during the present Holocene epoch (with the more recent time sometimes called Anthropocene) as a result of human activity. This large number of extinctions spans numerous families of plants and animals, including mammals, birds, amphibians, reptiles and arthropods. With widespread degradation of highly biodiverse habitats such as coral reefs and rainforests, as well as other areas, the vast majority of these extinctions are thought to be undocumented, as the species are undiscovered at the time of their extinction, or no one has yet discovered their extinction. The current rate of extinction of species is estimated at 100 to 1,000 times higher than natural background rates."

Ed in Houston

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DoomsDave
2 minutes ago, Ed in Houston said:

I would call this a disaster.

"The Holocene extinction, otherwise referred to as the sixth mass extinction or Anthropocene extinction, is an ongoing extinction event of species during the present Holocene epoch (with the more recent time sometimes called Anthropocene) as a result of human activity. This large number of extinctions spans numerous families of plants and animals, including mammals, birds, amphibians, reptiles and arthropods. With widespread degradation of highly biodiverse habitats such as coral reefs and rainforests, as well as other areas, the vast majority of these extinctions are thought to be undocumented, as the species are undiscovered at the time of their extinction, or no one has yet discovered their extinction. The current rate of extinction of species is estimated at 100 to 1,000 times higher than natural background rates."

Ed in Houston

I can think of others.

The various Ice Ages.

That meteor that killed off the dinosaurs. Holocene might not be natural, but those others were, surely that one with the meteor.

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bubba

One way out. Find tall building and jump! Not certain that this pertains to the Salton Sea?

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DoomsDave
5 minutes ago, bubba said:

One way out. Find tall building and jump! Not certain that this pertains to the Salton Sea?

That does seem unnaturally pessimistic . . .

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NOT A TA

I've wondered about potential partial solutions, not only for the Salton Sea but other places with similar symptoms. Here in Fl there are algae blooms and there's also similar problems where the Mississippi dumps into the gulf.

A comprehensive long term plan for the Salton Sea is way above my pay grade but I've had an idea for years that might be something that could be incorporated.

Could a group of chemical engineers come up with a system to remove the nutrients and particulates from agricultural runoff? If so, could a company make fertilizer for use by the surrounding agricultural entities? Could the particulates be used in the production of concrete or other building materials? If so, in a case like Salton sea the materials could be used for housing etc. that would reappear around the lake if the lake could be sustainable.

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Silas_Sancona
6 minutes ago, NOT A TA said:

I've wondered about potential partial solutions, not only for the Salton Sea but other places with similar symptoms. Here in Fl there are algae blooms and there's also similar problems where the Mississippi dumps into the gulf.

A comprehensive long term plan for the Salton Sea is way above my pay grade but I've had an idea for years that might be something that could be incorporated.

Could a group of chemical engineers come up with a system to remove the nutrients and particulates from agricultural runoff? If so, could a company make fertilizer for use by the surrounding agricultural entities? Could the particulates be used in the production of concrete or other building materials? If so, in a case like Salton sea the materials could be used for housing etc. that would reappear around the lake if the lake could be sustainable.

No expert on the subject but thinking it would depend on the chemical / nutrient..  In some cases, certain plants could work well at "mopping up"  hazardous / excess levels of  x chemical / nutrient. 

In other instances, ( widespread  Mercury contamination in the Santa Clara Valley ( CA.), where i grew up being a good example ),  leaving the environment as undisturbed as possible is the only sure way to mitigate the effects of the contaminant. In the case of the Mercury, it is naturally occurring bacteria attempting to break it down as it moves through the watershed that creates a more harmful form of the pollutant that can effect more things, or become airborne when contaminated soil is disturbed.  

Have seen ideas involving use of Mangroves as one means of helping to clean runoff/ other water coming into the Salton.  Wouldn't mind seeing creation of habitat using them there either. 

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bubba

Salton Sea occurs and evaporates every 400 years. In the 1600's, it effected the native Indians but they did not have a press to report. It is in the same process (evaporating) that has occurred every 400 years for millennia. Man has little to do with this naturally occurring phenomena and our sins against the environment have no relevance. Motion to Strike Granted.

Red Tide was first observed by the Spaniards in the 1500's and is a similar naturally occurring phenomena that has nothing to do with mankind. Grin and bear it. Algae blooms and worse have been a constant on Lake O but when it was first located by Muricans it was a truly a dead lake. No fish, no nothing.

My point about the Salton Sea is simply that it is a naturally occurring phenomena that our present media treats as a man made ecological disaster. Certainly agriculture has created more issues but it is specious to contend that man is the root of the issue. It is only our encroachment on the naturally occurring phenomena that has made it any issue. Are we also responsible for the "La Brea Tar Pits" and the pollution it causes?

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DoomsDave

The Salton Sea certainly appears to have its fair share of disasters, like Lake Erie.

Both SS and LE are natural bodies of water, though the pollution to them is man made.

I think the present SS was formed in the early 1900s, but was sort of "pre set" to happen based on the local geography. That whole area is kind of weird, in large part because people in the U.S. take so much of the water that there's not even enough left to flow into the Gulf of California anymore.

The wikipedia article is quite fascinating about both. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Salton_Sea https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Colorado_River#Discharge

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HtownPalms

The difference between then and now on the Salton Sea has to do with farmland runoff. Whether it was filled with rain water or mismanagement of the Colorado river is non relevant to the " man made disaster" part of the story. Historically when the lake would fill it would remain freshwater and support life until it dried up. The early part of the 20th century the lake was clean, fresh, and had fish. As time went by salts and chemicals from farmland runoff started saturating the lake. Something that wouldn't have happened 400 years ago because there were no farms and certainly no pesticides and fertilizers. Over time the water got so salty that all life in the lake died off causing further stagnation. That's the man made disaster part of the story. Poisoning the lake with chemicals. Since there is no flow of water out of the lake (other than evaporation which leaves the chemicals behind) and no non chemical laden water flowing into the lake the condition just gets worse. It took decades to happen, but the disaster is the pollution. Back in the 50s when the lake water was still clean it was a playground for SoCal and was anything but a man made disaster. People started calling it a disaster when the lake started dying from pollution. 

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