Current Information on the Salton Sea

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, 18-Jul-2024: -240.88 feet, NGVD 1929
Provisional data, subject to revision.
Source: USGS 10254005 Salton Sea NR Westmorland, CA
Time Series: Current/Historical Observations

Equivalent to: -238.8, NAVD 1988


Area: acres ( sq miles)
Source: SALSA2 model


Volume: million acre-feet


Salton Sea elevation on 18-Jul, 2003 Baseline: feet, NGVD 1929


Change from 2003 elevation: feet


Reduction in Salton Sea area: acres ( sq miles)
Currently shrinking by about 2,400 acres (3.75 sq miles) each year.


Water Inflow to the Salton Sea by Year, in thousands of acre-feet:

1. In the 2023 Annual Report, total inflow to the Sea for 2022 was presented as 1,043 TAFY. The number changed due to updating 2022 provisional USGS gage data for this report.

Source: Salton Sea Management Program 2024 Annual Report, p. 61


IID dust control projects: acres
Source: https://www.qsajpa.org/


SSMP dust control projects: acres
Source: Salton Sea Management Program 2024 Annual Report, p.51


Habitat projects: acres
Source: Salton Sea Management Program 2024 Annual Report, p.54


Open water atop playa: acres
Source: Formation, End-of-Year 2023 Playa Exposure Estimate


Revegetation atop playa: acres
Source: Formation, End-of-Year 2023 Playa Exposure Estimate


Net exposed playa: ~ acres ( sq miles)


Changes in bird populations: fewer pelicans, fewer eared grebes, more ducks and shorebirds


Monthly Average Salton Sea Elevation, January 2000 – January 2024:
 
 

Days since water mitigation ended: 2392


Salton Sea links:

 
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.
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