07/28/20 | California’s state budget includes $47 million to help the Salton Sea. The new budget was signed by Governor Newsom last month.
The ongoing crisis at the Salton Sea has created environmental and human health concerns that have been discussed for decades.
“Already we have the largest rate of pediatric asthma hospitalization in the entire state,” said Congressman Dr. Raul Ruiz, 36th district.
The sea has caused respiratory problems in surrounding communities caused by toxic dust blown from dried up areas. “Dust particles that contain arsenic selenium and other pesticides that can easily get into your blood from just simply breathing it,” said Ruiz.
Ruiz says he hopes these new state funds result in real, tangible change: “I’m tired of studies. I’m tired of plans. I wanna see men and women with hard hats and shovels breaking ground.” News Channel 3’s Madison Weil spoke with Phil Rosentrater, the executive director of the Salton Sea Authority, to see how the new funds will be used.
“What can $47 million actually do to help the surrounding communities near the Salton Sea?” asked Weil.
“47 million represents a critical spark…a catalyst. We have a long-standing need all around the sea for mitigation efforts and restoration efforts,” said Rosentrater.
Rosentrater explains that $28 million will go towards the “New River Project” to protect vulnerable communities from exposure to the New River, a dangerously polluted waterway that flows north across the U.S. Mexico border.
“New River is one of the most polluted rivers in America. It affects the well being the health of the community surrounding it,” said Rosentrater.
He says a little over $19 million will go towards the “North Lake Pilot Project,” adding that the Salton Sea Authority will be designing and building a section of deep water recreational habitat along the northern shoreline.
While Rosentrater says the pandemic has slowed communications and canceled in-person meetings, he hopes to break ground on a few projects within the next year.
“We have a start now. We have a sense of momentum and unity and some money from the state that we can now go and leverage for federal participation,” he said