Environmental Accident: The Salton Sea


The Eerie Salton Sea

"The largest lake in California, the Salton Sea is bound by a sordid history of unchecked development and foreseeable natural disaster. In the 1920's, land developers gambled on plots of land surrounding a flash-in-the-desert resort. After two major floods, the landholders could trade their chips only for the bleached bones of tilapia that now cover the neglected sea's shore. Miles of developed plots, with electrical and plumbing piped in, now sits abandoned. Popularly referred to on the Internet as the only "manmade mistake visible from space, the Salton Sea has become a symbol for the mis-engineering of water on a galactic scale.

"However, the remaining residents of Niland, Salton City, and Bombay Beach refuse to give up on their marginal communities. In Chris Metzler and Jeff Springer's documentary Plagues and Pleasures on the Salton Sea (2006), local holdouts traverse the Colorado Desert shores in golf carts, sharing mid-morning cocktails and fond memories of the great parties of the past. They are articulate about their shared history on the sea. They share a mythology, as well, extolling the healing properties of the salty, wine-colored water. Such awareness of the water that connects them and holds them close is unusual in the West. But then, this sea calls to mavericks."

--- Enid Baxter Blader and Nicole Antebi (from the introduction to Water, CA)