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Owens Lake Compared to the Salton Sea

(The Salton Sea is not that much different than the Owens Lake)….Only it is worse.

That is how Ted Shade began his presentation to the County Board of Supervisors. Schade is the Air Pollution Control Officer for the Great Basin Unified Air Pollution Control District in Owens Valley. He said Owens Lake has been an air quality problem since Los Angeles built an aqueduct in 1913 and began draining the water to be used in Southern California. He said at one time the PM 10 emissions were 100 times higher than the allowable amount. Since 2000, Schade has been working to reduce the PM 10 emissions from the dried lakebed. He has been able to reduce the emissions by nearly 90%, from about 80,000 tons to about 8,000 tons per year. He was able to pay for the mitigation projects after Los Angeles finally agreed they were responsible for the destruction of Owens Lake in 1997. Mitigation costs have topped one billion dollars, so far. Schade says he has visited the Salton Sea for the past few years. He said the problems are similar, but worse at the Salton Sea. He said The Imperial County Lake is 3 times larger than Owens Lake was. He said the sediment at Owens Lake was just salt, while the Salton Sea not only has salt, but several other toxins, as well. His success at Owens Lake has come from keeping some of the playa wet, covering several miles with gravel, and also planting salt friendly vegetation.