안자 보레고 사막 근처를 여행하다보면 바다처럼 넓은 살튼 시를 만나게 됩니다. 살튼 시 주변은 코첼라 밸리라는 곡창지대인데 많은 농산물이 이곳에서 수확됩니다. 각종과일과 채소가 생산되며 저희가 마켓에서 사 먹는 한국 참외도 대부분 이곳에서 한국분들이 농사지은 것입니다. 코첼라 밸리 주변을 운전하다보면 많은 멕시코 후예들이 농사를 짓고 살고있어 조그만 마을은 멕시코의 시골에 와 있는 기분입니다.
살튼시는 리버사이드 카운티와 임페리얼 카운티에 걸쳐있는 376 스퀘어 마일의 담수인데 바닷물보다 더 짜고 매년 1%씩 염도가 높아지고 있습니다. 해수면은 -220피트(-65미터) 이니 미국에서 제일 낮은 지역인 데스밸리와 별차가 없습니다. 주변의 화이트워터, 알라모 강, 그리고 시냇가에서 물이 흘러들어옵니다.
오래전 남부 캘리포니아가 바다에 잠겨있을때 살튼 싱크로 분류되는 이곳은 소금의 저장고였습니다. 개척시대 당시부터 LA 주민들에게 공급할 소금광산이 있었습니다.
저희 생각과 달리 1905년 범람하는 콜로라도강의 홍수조절을 위해 마른 땅이었던 살튼 싱크로 물길을 돌려 지금의 살튼시가 만들어졌습니다.
살튼시는 아메리칸 화이트 페리칸을 비롯한 400여종의 동식물의 보금자리이며 철새들의 쉼터이기도 합니다. 높아가는 염도를 줄이지 않으면 모든 생태계가 파괴될 위험에 처해 있습니다. 1955년도에 낮은 염도의 바닷물을 파이프로 끌어들이려는 계획이 있었습니다. 운하를 바다와 연결하여 물이 자연스럽게 바다로부터 흘러들어오게하자는 안도 있었습니다.
만약 그렇게 연결된다면 더 많은 물이 확보되어 배가 왕래할수도있고 많은 여가활동도 가능해 질것입니다. 1990년대 후반에는 댐을 건설하여 담수량을 늘리자는 안도 있습니다만 많은 반대 의견도 있어 아직까지는 확실한 공사를 진행하고 있지 않는것 같습니다.
좀더 자세한 사항은 아래의 영문을 참조 하십시오.
The Salton Sea is a saline lake, occupying the lowest elevations of the Salton Sink, part of the larger Colorado Desert in Southern California, USA, north of the Imperial Valley. The salinity of the lake is about 44,000 mg/L, greater than ocean water but less than the Great Salt Lake the salinity is increasing by about 1% annually. The lake covers a surface area of approximately 376 square miles (974 km²²), the largest in California. While it varies in dimensions and area with changes in agricultural runoff and rain, it averages 15 by 35 miles (24 by 56 km), with a maximum depth of 51 feet (15.5 m), giving a total volume of about 7.5 million acre-feet (9.3 km³³). Sea inflow averages 1.36 million acre-feet per year (53.2 m³³/s).
The Salton Sea falls within both Riverside County and Imperial County. Like Death Valley, it is located below sea level, with the current surface of the Salton Sea at about 220 ft (65 m) below sea level. The deepest area of the sea is 5 feet (1.5m) higher than the lowest point of Death Valley. The sea is fed by the New, Whitewater, and Alamo rivers, as well as a number of minor agricultural drainage systems and creeks.
Once part of a vast inland sea that covered a large area of Southern California, the endorheic Salton Sink was the site of a major salt mining operation. Throughout the Spanish period of California's history the area was referred to as the "Colorado Desert" after the Rio Colorado (Colorado River). In the 1853/55 railroad survey, it was called "The Valley of the Ancient Lake". On several old maps from the Library of Congress, it has been found labeled "Cahuilla Valley" (after the local Indian tribe) and "Cabazon Valley" (after a local Indian chief - Chief Cabazon). "Salt Creek" first appeared on a map in 1867 and "Salton Station" is on a railroad map from 1900, although this place had been there as a rail stop since the late 1870s.
The name "Salton" appears to be connected with salt mining in the area, at least as early as 1815. A yearly expedition to the area mined salt for Los Angeles residents. With the extension of a rail line through the basin, large scale salt mining started in 1884. After that, the general area is referred to as the 'Salton Sink' or the 'Salton Basin', "sink" or "basin" referring to the area's bowl-shaped topography.
Creation of the current Salton Sea
The creation of the Salton Sea of today started in 1905, when heavy rainfall and snowmelt caused the Colorado River to swell and breach an Imperial Valley dike. It took nearly two years to control the Colorado River’'s flow into the formerly dry Salton Sink and stop the flooding. As the basin filled, the town of Salton, a Southern Pacific Railroad siding and Torres-Martinez Indian land were submerged. The sudden influx of water and the lack of any drainage from the basin resulted in the formation of the Salton Sea.
Bird use at the Salton Sea
The Salton Sea has been termed a "crown jewel of avian biodiversity" (Dr. Milt Friend, Salton Sea Science Office). Over 400 species have been documented at the Salton Sea. The Salton Sea supports 30% of the remaining population of the American White Pelican. The Salton Sea is also a major resting stop on the Pacific Flyway. On 18 November 2006, a Ross's Gull, a high Arctic bird, was sighted and photographed there.
The sea's rising salinity threatens to eliminate the habitat value for fish-eating birds, such as pelicans. Without restoration actions, the sea will also eventually fail to support the microorganisms necessary to support the many shorebirds that depend on the Salton Sea.
Saving the Salton Sea
Alternatives for "saving the Salton Sea" have been evaluated since 1955. Early concepts included costly "pipe in/pipe out" options, which would import lower salinity seawater from the Gulf of California or Pacific Ocean and export higher salinity Salton Sea water; evaporation ponds that would serve as a salt sink, and large dam structures that would partition the sea into a marine lake portion and a brine salt sink portion. Others advocate building a sea-level canal to the Salton Sea from the Gulf of California. Given that the Sea is over 200 feet (60m) below sea level, a sea level canal would allow thousands of tons of lower-salinity sea water to flow into the Sea without costly pumping or pipelines. Such a canal could be built large enough for recreational use and by ocean-going vessels. A sea-level canal would promote dual purposes, as both an inland port for Southern California and also a recreational/environmental asset along its course for humans and wildlife in Mexico and the U.S. A sea-level canal would also likely provide a way to regulate the shoreline of the Sea in a predictable manner. However, without a means to export salt, even this approach would eventually leave the sea with ever-increasing salinity levels.
In the late 1990s, the Salton Sea Authority, a local joint powers agency, and the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation spearheaded efforts to evaluate and develop an alternative to save the Salton Sea. A Draft Environmental Impact Report/Environmental Impact Statement, which did not specify a preferred alternative, was released for public review in 2000.
Since that time, the Salton Sea Authority has developed a preferred concept that involves the construction of a large dam that would impound water to create a marine sea in the northern and southern parts of the sea and along the western edge. The plan has been subject to some criticism for failing to address ecosystem needs, and for engineering practicality concerns such as local faulting, potentially devastating to such a plan. Criticisms of the preferred plan issued by the Salton Sea Authority include:
·Construction failure when identified 200 feet (60m) of sediments fail to hold up the rock structures placed on top of them
·Geological catastrophe when a major earthquake hits the nearby · San Andreas Fault (feet (meters) away from the east end of the dike)
·Physical catastrophic failure as water is depleted from the south pond and water pressure pushes across the north pond against the soft sedimentary underlayment
·Possible catastrophic failure by water blowing under the dike as water from the higher north pond etches its way under the dike
·Massive alkali storms blowing across the area destroying crops from the south basin exposing dried salt sediments, resulting in crop damage and increased respiratory problems.
Many other concepts have been proposed, including piping water from the Sea to a wetland in Mexico, Laguna Salada (Mexico), as a means of salt export, and one by Aqua Genesis Ltd to bring in sea water from the Gulf of California, desalinate it at the Sea using available geothermal heat, and selling the water to pay for the plan. This concept would involve the construction of over 20 miles (30 km) of pipes and tunneling, and, with the increasing demand for water at the coastline, would provide an additional 1,000,000 acre feet (1.2 km³³) of water to Southern California coastal cities each year.