Saving the Salton Sea: Alternatives to Reduce Harmful Pollutants Side: 1 of 1
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Kira Tipotsch, Department of Biological Sciences, i
Thomas La Point, Department of Biological Scienc
The Salton Sea was formed in 1905 as an essentially
freshwater lake when an unintentional levee break along the
Colorado River caused overflow to enter its closed basin for
18 months until the levee was repaired (de Buys and Myers,
1999). Until the 1920s, freshwater fish from the original
Colorado River flow flourished. As the water grew more
saline, these species died off. Beginning in the 1950s,
several salt water fish species were introduced into the Sea
(Colorado River Board of California, 1992). In the 1960s two
species of tilapia were released in nearby irrigation drains to
control aquatic weeds, and soon found their way into the
Sea. Today, Sea salinity has risen to levels for which virtually
all fish except tilapia have died off (de Buys and Myers,
1999). Without intervention, salinity will continue to rise and
the tilapia will die off as well, rendering the Sea essentially
dead to animal life.
Increasing salinity and pollutants have also taken a toll on
recreational uses and property values. The Salton Sea was a
major regional recreational destination in the 1950s and 60s,
attracting more visitors annually than Yosemite National Park
(de Buys and Myers, 1999). Seaside resort and residential
communities sprung up along the shoreline. However,
beginning in the early 1970s, with the Sea's increasing
salinity and other water quality problems, recreational use
dropped off dramatically, and the shoreline communities now
stand largely abandoned.
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The Salton Sea is the largest lake, on a surface area basis, in California. Its continL
and fishery resource depends upon stabilizing and ultimately reducing the levels of
and the nutrients phosphorous and nitrogen. Simply letting the Sea evaporate awa
picked up by the wind as blowing dust, and become a health hazard to southern C
first, the sources and harmful effects of the key pollutants, and second, possible alt
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Our research considers alternatives to stabilize and ultimately reduce the levels of sa
Sea. The current problems of the Salton Sea, reflected in frequent die-offs of fish anc
natural factors, including:
0 Already salty Colorado River irrigation water that accumulates additional
0 High levels of nutrients, such as phosphorus and nitrogen, in agricultural
t hat can rob organisms of oxygen;
A below sea level depression with no outflows and wastewater inflows c
accumulation of salinity and pollutants over time;
A hot arid climate; and,
" A reduction in inflows, due to current and proposed water transfers, which
body unable to support fish.
Previous research will be retrieved via the Academic Search Complete and Web of S
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Tipotsch, Kira & La Point, Thomas W., 1949-. Saving the Salton Sea: Alternatives to Reduce Harmful Pollutants, poster, April 15, 2010; (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc86750/m1/1/: accessed September 25, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Honors College.