The Salton Sea, California’s largest lake, is shrinking. The moribund water is fed by agricultural run-off, but as California is baking in a four-year-drought, the water is evaporating at a rapid rate.
The locals are concerned that dust from the lake bed is contributing to a rise in asthma and other respiratory illness in a region where air quality already falls below federal standards.
Samia Khan is a paediatrician at the Clinicas de Salud del Pueblo health centre:“It affects me personally as well, since myself and my family developed asthma while living here. I never had problems before.”
The lake is known as the ‘Accidental Sea,’ it was created 1905 when the Colorado River breached a dike and two years of flooding filled a sizzling basin.
As the lake recedes the dust blowing off the banks is a health hazard.
Bruce Wilcox is an an environmental manager:“Sort of fine white powdery dust sits on top of the playa. That’s a salt and it effervesces up through the soil layers, particularly this time of year. And a very small wind will blow that. I’ve been out here times when it looked like a snow blizzard, you couldn’t see anything.”
The lake is no stranger to catastrophe tropical storms hit the area in the late 70s causing widespread destruction and botulism hit the pelican community reducing its numbers. The Salton Sea’s winning days are now long gone.
Locals want no further accidents around the ‘Accidental Sea.’