California’s Salton Sea is a fertile oasis in the hostile desert of southeastern California, adopted by millions of birds migrating along the Pacific Flyway. As California’s largest lake, it stretches across almost 35 miles in a remote, below sea-level valley in the southeastern corner of the state. Current Salton Sea information is posted below.

The Sea faces a host of challenges, including a declining water supply, rising salinity, very high levels of nutrients that generate excessive algal growth and very low oxygen levels, and, to date, a glaring disconnect between the rate of change and the rate of efforts to address that change.

Salton Sea Elevation, 16-Feb-2020: -237.50 feet, NGVD 1929
Provisional data, subject to revision.
Source: USGS 10254005 Salton Sea NR Westmorland, CA
"Time Series: Current/Historical Observations"

Equivalent to: -235.4 feet, NAVD 1988

Area: acres ( sq miles)
Source: Tetra Tech's 2014 Elevation/Area curve

Volume: million acre-feet

Salton Sea Elevation on 16-Feb, 2003 Baseline: feet, NGVD 1929

Change from 2003 elevation: feet

Reduction in Salton Sea Area: acres ( sq miles)

Dust Control Projects: 1,144 acres
Source: IID
Habitat Projects: 49 acres
Source: Natural Resources Agency, Salton Sea Authority

Passive Re-vegetation: ~1,800 acres
Source: Formation Environmental

Net Exposed Playa: ~ acres ( sq miles)

Changes in Bird Populations: Fewer pelicans, fewer eared grebes, more ducks and shorebirds

Salinity (TDS):

2003 2014 2015 2016 2017
g/L 45.6 55.8 57.5 58.6 61.3
ppt 43.6 52.8 54.4 55.4 57.7

2017 data reflect an average of March & June samples only (note that ppt is a mass/mass ratio, while g/L is mass/volume; they are not equivalent at higher salinities).
Source: Bureau of Reclamation

Days Since Mitigation Water Ended: 778

Desert Sun Video:

Salton Sea Links:

General Salton Sea Information from the Pacific Institute

General Salton Sea Information from the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation

Audubon’s webpage on the Salton Sea

California’s Salton Sea Management Program

California’s draft Phase I: 10-Year Plan of the Salton Sea Management Program

November 7, 2017: California’s State Water Board Adopts ORDER WR 2017-0134 on Long-Term Management of Salton Sea

Salton Sea Science Office of the U.S. Geological Survey

Salton Sea Authority website

Salton Sea Restoration and Renewable Energy Initiative of the Imperial Irrigation District

General Salton Sea and Vicinity Land Ownership and Management Map

Birds Observed at the Salton Sea from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology

Salton Sea Timeline from USA Today: “Salton Sea: A History of Broken Promises”

Salton Sea Elevation, Jan. 2000 – August 2019.

Source: USGS

A flock of Wilson’s Phalaropes create a reflection while flying over constructed saline habitat ponds (SHP), Salton Sea, California. Numerous species of waterbirds rapidly inhabited the SHP after completion in March 2006, and continued to use the SHP for foraging, roosting, and nesting activities, until the ponds were dried up in 2010. Photograph courtesy of Tom Anderson, U.S. Geological Survey, Salton Sea Science Office. See Miles, A.K., Ricca, M.A., Meckstroth, A., and Spring, S.E., 2009, Salton Sea Ecosystem Monitoring Project: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2009-1276, 150 p.
American white pelicans at USGS/Reclamation Saline Habitat Ponds. Photo courtesy of Tom Anderson.
Black-necked stilt & nest at USGS/Reclamation Saline Habitat Ponds. Photo courtesy of Tom Anderson.