The Salton Sea is at the center of a legal challenge to a plan designed to protect the Colorado River, which serves 40 million people and 7,812 square miles of farmland in the West.

The Colorado River Drought Contingency Plan seeks to keep two Colorado River reservoirs from dropping so low they cannot deliver water or produce hydropower.

Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming worked for years to come up with the plan. Under the agreement, states voluntarily would give up water to preserve Lake Mead on the Arizona-Nevada border and Lake Powell upstream on the Arizona-Utah border. Mexico also has agreed to cuts.

The Imperial Irrigation District didnt sign on to the plan over concerns about the rapidly diminishing Salton Sea, Californias largest lake, which covers parts of the Imperial and Coachella valleys.

Imperial also is alleging that the powerful Metropolitan Water District, violated environmental laws in pledging to contribute Californias share of water.

The MWD insisted in a statement Tuesday that the agreement protects the Salton Sea.

“During our negotiations on the Drought Contingency Plan, it was our goal to find an approach that had no adverse impacts on the Salton Sea. That goal was achieved – the contributions to Lake Mead that will be made by Metropolitan and others will not decrease watergoing to the sea,” MWD General Manager Jeffrey Kightlinger said in the statement.

Imperials petition filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court on Tuesday came the same day President Donald Trump approved the drought plan. The House and Senate approved it April 8.

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The Salton Sea, once a major recreational hotspot for fishing and boating in Southern California, has long faced difficulties as water levels dropped, salinity increased and miles of shoreline were exposed, kicking up dust.

The sea, which is 35 miles long and 15 miles wide, is also a major stopping point for migratory birds on the Pacific Flyway, which rest there and feed on the seas fish.

The Imperial Irrigation District contended in a Tuesday statement posted on its website that going forward without its participation endangers the sea.

“The Salton Sea is an integral part of the Colorado River system and its decline presents a severe public health and environmental crisis for the Imperial and Coachella valleys and the state,” the statement said.

The legal challenge puts the focus “where it should have been all along – at the Salton Sea,” Henry Martinez, the irrigation districts general manager, is quoted as saying in the statement.

Kightlinger of the MWD urged cooperation.

“The Drought Contingency Plan will help stabilize Colorado River supplies for seven states aRead More – Source

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