News from Salton Sea Authority:
Recognizing that close cooperation between local land-use agencies at the Salton Sea is
pivotal to progress among all parties with shared interests at the Salton Sea, Riverside
and Imperial Counties have forged an historic Memorandum of Understanding (MOU)
for cooperative planning at the Salton Sea.
“This MOU adopted by the Counties is born of a spirit of cooperation that is welcomed at
the Salton Sea Authority. It is through genuine cooperation and consultation that amazing
new progress is being accomplished at the Sea,” stated Thomas Tortez, President of the
Salton Sea Authority and Chairman of the Torres Martinez Band of Cahuilla Indians.
The MOU outlines a good faith commitment of collaboration between both counties.
Architects of the agreement – Riverside County Supervisors V. Manuel Perez and Marion
Ashley, and Imperial County Supervisors John Renison and Ryan Kelley – noted that
infrastructure financing strategies in each county will be far more effective when
reinforced by integrated planning efforts between the two counties and among the Salton
Sea Authority members.
“This MOU is intended to serve as a catalyst for change to improve the Sea in a way that
benefits all stakeholders,” stated Supervisor Manuel Perez, who serves as a Director on
the SSA Board. “The MOU sends a message to our state and federal partners that the
locals are united and ready to lead the restoration effort.”
The Salton Sea Authority is empowered by the Governor and state legislature to work in
cooperation and consultation with the state of California on plans and projects needed to
revitalize the Salton Sea. The Salton Sea is the largest lake in the California, a vital stop
for migratory birds on the Pacific Flyway and the top tourist destination in the state
Lowering water elevations and rising salt concentrations at the sea pose harm to human
health, ecosystem habitat and economic opportunities for communities around the Sea,
potentially impacting the water security of the entire Southwest if nothing is done to
improve conditions. In the MOU, County leaders call for cooperation to fully implement
a Perimeter Lake concept that would address air quality concerns by stabilizing the
shoreline while providing habitat for waterfowl as well as enhancing economic
opportunities in recreation and renewable energy.
“Imperial County and Riverside County have a vested interest in the long-term solution
for the Salton Sea, this MOU common vision will be shared with Imperial Irrigation
District, Coachella Valley Water District, Torrez Martinez Indian Tribe and ultimately
the State of California,” said Imperial County Supervisor Ryan Kelley, who serves on the
The formal revitalization plan, proposed by the California Natural Resources Agency and
endorsed by the Salton Sea Authority, already includes portions of the Perimeter Lake in
its list of projects prioritized for funding. But the state has only designed and funded the
first sections in a larger project intended to eventually cover exposed shoreline with water
that continue to flow from agricultural lands that surround the Sea.
The Counties want to accelerate the pace of progress the Perimeter Lake by working
more closely together to establish complementary infrastructure investments like the
Enhanced Infrastructure Finance District (“EIFD”) that was proposed as a local financing
tool in the Financial Feasibility Action Plan adopted by the Salton Sea Authority in 2016.
That financing mechanism is designed to stimulate economic development around the
Sea that can eventually support a healthier, more prosperous Salton Sea.
At the monthly meeting of the Salton Sea Authority Board of Directors, county
representatives called upon their peers to join in supporting the MOU, eventually
providing state and federal partners as well as other stakeholders with greater certainty of
success in addressing multiple challenges shared at the Sea.
“The Salton Sea Authority board adopted Guiding Principles that insist upon investing
scarce public funds in a way that will deliver biggest bang for the buck. The Sea has
multiple challenges, so that means we need to creatively develop solutions that deliver
multiple benefits from a single investment” commented Phil Rosentrater, GM/Executive
Director for the Salton Sea Authority. That is what the Counties are calling for in the
MOU supporting interagency cooperation for a Perimeter Lake at the Salton Sea.