(Left to Right Bob Hargreaves, City of Palm Desert Attorney, Rick Daniels, Former Salton Sea Authority Executive Director, Gina Nicole Dockstader, Salton Sea Authority Secretary, Altrena Santillanes, Salton Sea Authority President, G. Patrick O’Dowd, Salton Sea Authority Executive Director, Castulo R. Estrada, Salton Sea Authority Vice-President, Phil Rosentrater, former Salton Sea Authority Executive Director)
The Salton Sea Authority (Authority) concluded its 30th anniversary commemoration on Thursday, November 16, 2023, with an event at Torres Martinez Desert Cahuilla Indians, CA. The tribute honored the Authority’s three-decade commitment to preserving and restoring the delicate ecosystem of the Salton Sea, while acknowledging the pivotal contributions of individuals and organizations.
Stakeholders, government officials, community members, and environmental enthusiasts
united to celebrate the achievements and reflect on the challenges faced in preserving the Salton Sea. Engaging speeches and presentations emphasized the need for sustained collaboration and support.
“We extend our gratitude to all the attendees, stakeholders and community for their support. Collaboration remains key in restoring the Salton Sea ecosystem, and we are committed to securing its sustainable future,” stated G. Patrick O’Dowd, Salton Sea Authority Executive Director/General Manager.
Distinguished individuals, organizations and former Authority’s Executive Directors and Board members were recognized for their exceptional contributions to the Salton Sea’s preservation and restoration. Their dedication was praised for driving progress and promoting an optimistic future for the Salton Sea and its surrounding communities.
During the event, a testimonial was presented by Tom Kirk, the former director of the Authority, now serving as Executive Director for the Coachella Valley Association of Governments (CVAG). Serving at the helm of the Authority from the late ‘90s to 2006, Kirk provided valuable insights through a pre-recorded interview, reflecting on the Authority’s priorities three decades ago. He shared that “Human health wasn’t a primary concern for the Salton Sea Authority during that period. Our elected officials were more focused on mitigating flood damage rather than the Sea’s potential drying up. It was an entirely different landscape thirty years ago.”
In addition, Susan “Susie” Ming, PE, representing the United States Army Corps of Engineers, District, provided an update on the Imperial Streams and Salton Sea Ecosystem Restoration Feasibility Study. This effort, authorized by Congress in the 2020 Water Resources Development Act and funded through the Infrastructure Investments and Jobs act, seeks to identify a project that will feasibly and sustainably revitalize the Sea. And once completed this “mega” project will be eligible for significant financial support from the federal government.
During the event, Executive Director O’Dowd also provided the board an update on the Authority’s considerable efforts to understand the evolving Salton Sea landscape and its potential risks to the local community’s health and welfare. To accomplish this, the Authority is proactively engaging with state and federal representatives to explore legislation which might create a framework for assurance that changes at the Salton Sea are not producing adverse impacts to human health and safety. In addition, working in collaboration with State, local, and non-government entities, the Authority is exploring how to consolidate data from the vast array of regional air monitoring efforts to better manage the risks from airborne hazards. This strategy would go a long way in instilling confidence in the community that they are not being harmed by the continuous changes occurring at the Salton Sea.
For more information about the Salton Sea Authority and its initiatives, please visit http://www.saltonsea.com