Assemblymember Eduardo Garcia Demands Implementation of Salton Sea Management Plan
(Sacramento – CA) Today, Assemblymember Eduardo Garcia (D-Coachella), Chairman of the Assembly Committee on Water, Parks, and Wildlife conducted a state oversight hearing to ensure the successful implementation of the Salton Sea Management Plan.
“We have reached a critical turning point. We have a plan, we have money, there is additional money lined up, and we have a constituency, myself included, that is running out of patience. Now, we need to move forward and execute mitigation efforts in a timely manner to improve air quality, safeguard human health as well as the ecological and economic issues surrounding the sea,” stated Assemblymember Eduardo Garcia.
Rachel Ehlers from the Legislative Analyst’s Office gave a fiscal overview. Ehlers stated that the estimated cost of the 10 Year Salton Sea Management Plan is $400 million. In her report, she cited that $80 million Proposition 1 dollars have already been appropriated by the legislature toward the plan. Additionally, there is a $200 million allocation pending June voter approval in Proposition 68 (formerly SB 5) as well a $200 million listed in a Water Bond poised for November’s ballot.
Garcia has always recognized the importance of integrating local perspectives in the implementation of the plan. The final panel consisted of the following Coachella Valley and Imperial County voices, Luis Olmedo, Executive Director of Comite Civico Del Valley, Phil Rosentrater, Executive Director of the Salton Sea Authority and Silvia Paz Director of Building Healthy Communities, Eastern Coachella Valley.
“With all-time high asthma rates, cardiovascular and respiratory problems the region needs swift implementation of mitigation projects to stabilize the emissive conditions. Comite Civico del Valle has worked with the state to develop educational materials to help engage and inform the community, in both English and Spanish, on the Salton Sea, its history; its current conditions, how it affects wildlife, habitat, and the public health impact that the sea represents to the community,” said Luis Olmedo.
“You have a total of about twenty-six thousand people living in close proximity to the Sea - we need to see true commitment to community engagement,” shared Silvia Paz, who insisted upon the value of local knowledge and emphasized the need for greater community engagement and forums for resident input.
Chairman Eduardo Garcia announced that another Salton Sea oversight discussion is planned to take place locally to check in on progress.
Garcia continued, “I want to thank everyone who has been a part of this effort, both the state and local agencies as well as nonprofit partners. The pressure is on, and the threat to public health and ecological habitats are rising. These were the main objectives of the 10 Year Salton Sea Management Plan. We know that there have been tremendous barriers and delays leading up to this point but the purpose of this hearing is to keep everyone on track to the benchmarks we have set.”