The Salton Sea is 35 miles long and 15 miles wide. Tuesday morning, News Channel 3's Madison Weil got a bird's eye view of the environmental disaster in the making at the Salton Sea. Will Worthington, a volunteer pilot for Lighthawk, a company that works with a conservation group educating people on the changing landscape of the sea. "To go up in the air and share with other people that view. It's a very unique view from above," Worthington said.
Salton Sea Program Director Frank Ruiz served as the guide for this trip. Ruiz says the Salton Sea is receding at an alarming rate, about 6-inches a year, exposing toxic lake bed which is evident from the air. "The Colorado River is going into the 19th year of drought. And that's providing less and less water to the Salton Sea," Ruiz said.
Five hundred years ago most of the surrounding area by the Salton Sea was underwater. Now, homes that were at one point waterfront properties, and the nearby canals, are bone dry. "The water that you see, and of course the water that comes in from Mexico, a lot of people will say it's highly contaminated. Water changes in colour because of all the different elements it brings in," Ruiz said.
As the Salton Sea continues to recede it is exposing hundreds of miles of fine, dried-up lakebed. The land resembles a beach, but when the wind blows, that toxic silt is carried to nearby communities. "It will easily pick up as the lake recedes, it can pick up more of the particles," Ruiz told News Channel 3. Exacerbating the already poor air quality and creating a major public health concern. "It (the air) contains highly toxic metals like arsenic, selenium, copper, and DBT as well," Ruiz added.
Those devoted to combating the biological crisis in the area say seeing it firsthand is essential. "It's more than you can get by just watching a video...it's more than you can get from the ground...in many cases, it really is an eye-opener," Worthington said. A summit further addressing the many issues at the Salton Sea will be held on Thursday. Stay with News Channel 3 for continuing coverage on the Salton Sea.