California leaders who represent the shrinking Salton Sea want the same kind of expedited action taken on restoring it as the Oroville spillway crisis had in 2017.
After the spillway eroded millions of dollars were quickly allotted to fix the dam. A 10-year plan to restore California’s largest lake was adopted last year.
Assemblyman Eduardo Garcia questioned the agencies in charge of the project Tuesday at an oversight hearing over why it's behind schedule.
“The takeaway here is that [state agencies] might not have the appropriate amount of people to do the work that needs to be done here, which is part of what's delayed this conversation,” said Garcia.
Ted Frink, with the Department of Water Resources, said additional staff is needed “to be able to make sure that we can actually design and implement actions and get it back on track.”
Dust from the drying lake is blown into communities nearby where childhood asthma rates are among the worst in the state. The first phase has about $80 million of the $410 million needed to build ponds and pipelines around the lake to control dust and for bird habitats. If proposition 68, which is on the June ballot, passes it could add $200 million to preserve the shrinking sea.
The meeting ended with direction to the agencies involved to come back in June with a plan to get the project back on course.
Mike Lynes with Audubon California hopes the future hearing and decisions on the Salton Sea alerts California’s next governor that the region is important to resuscitate.
“To make sure that that person knows this is a priority and that we secure a promise from that person that they will ellevate it, make sure that it’s adequately staffed as well as adequately funded,” Lynes said at the hearing.