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Salton Sea restoration sparks debate

IMPERIAL COUNTY, Calif. (KYMA, KECY) - The Salton Sea has needed restoration for decades. Both Imperial County and Imperial Irrigation District (IID) agree something needs to be done, but the debate over precisely what action to take, is preventing much from happening at all.

In 2003, it was agreed water would be transferred from the Salton Sea to San Diego and Coachella. Imperial County Superviso Ryan Kelley tells me, after the transfer the seabed turned to dust. The wind then carried that dust, and the harmful components in it, towards Valley residents.

“It’s a hazard to people who have asthma or pulmonary issues,” said Kelley. 

In 2015, it was agreed that IID would work with Imperial County to restore the area blamed for the hazardous dust, Red Hill Bay. However, years passed and nothing was done. Recently, Imperial County issued an abatement order demanding that IID act quickly to restore Red Hill Bay.

 IID Vice President JB Hamby says his agency takes ownership of the delay in action, and is trying to move forward on the Red Hill Bay project. 

“I think everyone is in agreement that this project at Red Hill Bay has taken longer than it should of,” said Hamby. 

Still, the IID isn't happy with the terms of the county's order, and the county isn't happy that nothing's getting done. 

Monday on 13 On Your Side at 6 p.m., Vince Ybarra takes a closer look at both the county and the IID's role in restoring the Salton Sea.

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Vince Ybarra

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