Boxer Introduces Bill To Save Salton Sea

Local and Federal Officials and Environmentalists Hail Bill as Important Step Forward

March 5, 1998

Washington, D.C. -- U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) today introduced legislation to restore the troubled Salton Sea.

The Salton Sea is a unique natural resource in Southern California. Created in 1905 by a breach in a levee along the Colorado River, the Salton Sea is California's largest inland body of water, at 378 square miles, and it is one of the most important habitats for migratory birds along the Pacific Flyway.

Since there is no natural outlet for the sea at its current level, all the salts carried with water that flows into the sea have remained there. Salinity is currently more than 25 percent higher than ocean water, and rising. Over the past five years, this high salinity combined with unchecked pollution concentrations has led to massive fish kills and the decimation of the migratory waterfowl that utilize the Salton Sea.

"My legislation is a consensus approach toward restoring the unique Salton Sea ecosystem," Boxer said. "Over the years, scientists, communities and politicians alike have been trying to draw national attention to the decline of the Salton Sea. Our late friend and colleague, Representative Sonny Bono, worked tirelessly to make this issue an environmental priority for this Congress. With this legislation, we can carry on that legacy."

Boxer explained, "My legislation does three things. First, it requires the Department of Interior to review all options for restoring the sea and then, recommend one preferred option at the end of one year. Second, it gives adequate time, an additional 6 months if necessary, for environmental compliance review and public hearings as required by law. And third, it triggers an automatic authorization of $300 million as recommended in the House bill on the Salton Sea introduced earlier this year."

"I am proud of the broad support for my bill and am hopeful that my House and Senate colleagues can act quickly to ensure passage of this legislation to restore the ailing Salton Sea," Boxer said. "This is necessary and important legislation that will not only benefit Californians and our environmental heritage, but also carry on the legacy of Representative Bono."

N.B. Boxer's bill has received the praise of national and local authorities, community leaders and environmentalists. The following is a list with their comments.


Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt
I have had an opportunity to review the Salton Sea legislation that Senator Boxer is introducing this morning. In my judgement, the bill as drafted reflects a more thoughtful and practical approach for addressing the serious environmental challenges that face the Salton Sea. I look forward to working with the Senator in refining and, hopefully implementing this important initiative.

Congressman George Brown
Senator Boxer's bill represents an important step forward in the fight to save the Salton Sea. She has done an outstanding job building a consensus bill that can win local and federal support.

Tellis Codekas, President of the Salton Sea Authority and Coachella Valley Water Authority
Senator Boxer is on the right track with her bill. Her legislation builds on the bipartisan local and national effort to save the Salton Sea.

Tom Kirk, Director of the Salton Sea Authority
All these legislative efforts indicate broad bipartisan interest in moving forward the most critical Salton Sea legislation since the formation of the Sea 90 years ago.

Imperial County Supervisor, Tom Veysey
My district includes the Salton sea. The community is so excited about Sen. Boxer getting involved, especially those that have waited this out for the last 20 years. This bill covers a lot of the issues we are looking at. I sure appreciate her help.

Imperial County Supervisor, Sam Sharp
We are very excited about Senator Boxer's bill. In a word: Fantastic. To have her on board now means we have the right people working to solve a problem we've been facing since the 40's.

Riverside County, Supervisor Roy Wilson
I am pleased with the efforts of Senator Boxer. It will take a bipartisan effort to keep Salton Sea restoration moving forward.

Imperial Irrigation District, General Manager Michael Clinton
Senator Boxer's bill recognizes the unique environmental attributes of this ecosystem and the need for immediate action to preserve it for future generations. We are very pleased with Senator Boxer's leadership in this critically time sensitive action.

National Audubon Society, President John Flicker
The National Audubon Society strongly endorses this legislation by Senator Boxer. This bill sets in motion a process to determine the source of the ecological crisis facing the Salton Sea and provide recommendations on how to reverse the Salton Sea's rapid deterioration.