Salton Sea: A World’s Largest Salt Lake

As Salton Sea faces ecological collapse, a plan to save it with ocean water is rejected by all sides except one.

Sitting on the edge of a vast salt lake and at the centre of a vast aquifer, Salton Sea is a place of mystery.

It is the world’s largest salt lake, surrounded by the San Jacinto Mountains, and a crucial part of the Colorado River system, delivering drinking water to much of the American West from Boca Chica, Texas, to Bakersfield, California.

The land around the lake, which covers an estimated 940,000 hectares – the equivalent of 5,300 football fields, is also home to an estimated 50 species of reptiles and about 5,000 species of birds.

But if you have to travel all the way to Salton City to see it, you are not going to find the place to be overly fascinating.

Yet the lake has a very high water table and at one point it was almost entirely covered underwater. Its water was drained in the early 1950s to give way for the construction of a hydroelectric dam.

The resulting lake covered an area just over 1,600 square miles and has filled in to about half.

In the late 1990s, the city of Bakersfield put in a measure to permanently shut off the lake’s outlet in order to restore its size to its original size.

The plan was to use ocean water from the Pacific Ocean and to fill the lake with it. However, Salton Sea is too vast to support an aquifer large enough to be self-sufficient.

So the city’s plan was amended to use seawater from the Gulf of California instead.

The Salton Sea Project

But while the city’s plan to fill the lake with ocean water was controversial, it was also a solution that was at least relatively certain to be successful.

“I don’t think anyone could have known it would be so controversial when we first began,”

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