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Dry, drier, driest…

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Greetings from the Salton Sea

In the 1950’s and 60’s, The Salton Sea was promoted as the Riviera of California. Hundreds of thousands flocked to its warm shores where fishing and boating were popular activities.

Over time, the sea began to experience environmental problems. Fluctuating water levels, high salinity and massive fish die-offs scared people away. Recently the waterlevels have dramaticaly gone down. The runoff water from the neighbouring Imperial Valley, that used to fill the lake, is now conserved by the farmers and sold to cities.  Photo’s: Johannes Abeling and Ronald de Hommel

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The enchanting Salton Sea

The Salton Sea is one of the last remaining wetlands in California and an important resting area for migrating birds of the Pacific Flyway. Four million birds are estimated to use the lake daily in winter. In summer the water temperature of the shallow lake rises so high that millions of Tilapia die from lack of oxygen. Other fish spieces have disappeared years ago they couldn’t survive the salt level of more than 30% higher than the Pacific Ocean.

Photo’s: Johannes Abeling and Ronald de Hommel

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Farming with Colorado water

Irrigated farmland is the biggest consumer of Colorado River water. Throughout the Southwest millions of acres are watered to produce water thirsty crops like lettuce, cotton and alfalfa. The dry and warm climate makes several harvests a year possible. So there’s always a big conflict between the opposition that says you shouldn’t grow lettuce in the desert and the farmers that emphasize their productivity.

Photo’s: Ronald de Hommel and Johannes Abeling

The Colorado River is the lifeline of the American Southwest. Its watershed covers seven states and Mexico. More than 100% of its water is used for recreation, agriculture and drinking water. the water is heavily recycled and re-used. Because of the over-use of the water the massive reservoirs, Lake Mead and Lake Powell have gone down in the past ten years to below 50% capacity.

Users that lose out on the water are nature and poorer areas. Great wetlands, like the river delta in Mexico, but also the Salton Sea in California have received hardly or no water in the last decades resulting in desertification and resettlement of population.

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