The Salton Sea and Residents Struggling for Air

What was once a bustling beach spot is now a desolate location full of dead fish, and surprisingly enough, people. While this may not seem to be an issue or even a topic worth a reader’s attention, there is an underlying problem here that should be brought to light.



The Salton Sea is California’s largest lake, and everyday it is drying up and leaving harmful dust in its wake. Many Salton Sea residents cannot afford to move, and the state needs 2.5 billion dollars in order to build a moat around the lake and fix the problem. Because of the residents' low income, cities with larger and wealthier populations such as San Diego are getting the water re-routed to them. One Salton Sea resident named Andrew Cobbs, who spoke on The Today Show, shared a story of his young son being sent to the hospital for a nearly fatal asthma attack due to the large quantities of dust in the area. Andrew and his wife had no way to get their son to a hospital because they do not own a car and could not afford to pay someone to take their family to the hospital. Instead, Andrew’s son had to be taken away in a medical helicopter, without his parents.

Most people probably cannot imagine the pain of not being able to be with your child as they are flown miles away. Cobbs said that his son had even missed his birthday, and that a cake was waiting for him in the fridge. Children who live in Imperial County, the area surrounding the Salton Sea, have to go to the hospital two to three times more than children living anywhere else in the state of California. Even though the state is aware of these issue, there seems to be no sense of urgency in fixing the problem, most likely because the area is made up of low income families.


A California native who attends American University shared her thoughts on this topic. "I learned about the Salton Sea in high school in my environmental science class. I know that because of its salinity and water shortage, the chemicals give the area a bad odor. The state legislators haven't done anything to fix this problem, and a company gave them fifteen years to fix it. The contract is nearly over, and nothing has been done to fix it."

She shares that as a person from California, she was more affected by the drought that the state was in, but not directly affected by the Salton Sea. If it weren't for her environmental science class, she wouldn't have known about this issue, because not a lot of people talk about it. 

Salton Sea residents are struggling to breathe, while most Californians never have to question when they will have their next breath of fresh air. If the state of California does not get the money they need soon, the residents of Salton Sea will have no choice but to suffer in this deserted beach town.


Photo Credits: 1, 2