The Salton Sea. | Photo: Connie K. Ho.

Saving the Salton Sea

It's hard to imagine that the Salton Sea was once considered a prime tourist destination in the 1950s.

Over the years, the desert lake has become a post-apocalyptic scene marked by fish carcasses, abandoned structures, and mobile homes. Now, many scientists are claiming that it's an ecological time bomb.

During the 1950s and '60s, the sea was crowded with boats, marathon races, and tourists. Celebrities and politicians made it a point to visit the Salton Sea as a weekend retreat. But the lake's popularity was short-lived after salinity and toxicity levels increased, causing thousands of fish to die, leaving an unpleasant smell and deserted beach town behind.

The Salton Sea was accidentally created in 1905 after an inundation on the Colorado River made its way past canal barriers and the Salton Trough. It's now the largest lake in California and sits 226 feet below sea level.

Politicians have called for the transformation and revitalization of the sea, but plans have come and gone, and the fate of the sea continues to be uncertain.

In this segment of "SoCal Connected," reporter Derrick Shore visits the sea to talk to locals and experts about the sea, which is not only becoming an issue for locals, but could be a threat to the environment and the health of residents in larger U.S. Southwestern region and Mexico.

 

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