Press Releases

Washington—The Senate Committee on Appropriations included in the bill funding the Department of Agriculture report language authored by Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) requiring the department to implement new drought provisions she secured in the Farm Bill to protect the Salton Sea, which is rapidly shrinking due to reduced inflows.

The 2018 Farm Bill provided USDA with new authorities and additional funding for conservation efforts that could be used to mitigate the negative effects of the declining lake.

“We must act quickly if we’re going to save the Salton Sea,” Senator Feinstein said. “The Farm Bill included new resources for the department to protect the lake’s unique environment and improve the health of the surrounding communities. I’m glad the committee included language instructing the Department of Agriculture to use these new tools to protect the Salton Sea before it’s too late.”

Located next to 600,000 acres of prime farmland, the lake is rapidly declining due to decreased inflows from historic drought and necessary agriculture water conservation efforts over the past two decades. The Salton Sea is California’s largest lake but its reduced size is now harming public health in the surrounding communities, including leading to increased rates of asthma and respiratory problems due to excessive dust from the lake’s exposed shorelines.

USDA is already actively engaged in Salton Sea conservation, partnering with Imperial Irrigation District, the state of California, the Salton Sea Authority, the Torres Martinez Tribe and Imperial Valley Vegetable Growers on multiple pilot projects. The Farm Bill drought provisions—supported by these stakeholders—authorize USDA to expand those pilot efforts in order to leverage the $200 million recently secured by the state of California to implement a 10-year Salton Sea management plan.