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, 19-Sep-2021: -239.09 feet, NGVD 1929
Provisional data, subject to revision.
Source: USGS 10254005 Salton Sea NR Westmorland, CA
Time Series: Current/Historical Observations

Equivalent to: -237.0 feet, NAVD 1988

Area: acres ( sq miles)
Source: SALSA2 model

Volume: million acre-feet

Salton Sea elevation on 19-Sep, 2003 Baseline: feet, NGVD 1929

Change from 2003 elevation: feet

Reduction in Salton Sea area: acres ( sq miles)

IID dust control projects: 2,400 acres
Source: IID

SSMP dust control projects: 755 acres
Source: SSMP

Habitat projects: 0 acres

Open water atop playa: 1,029 acres
Source: Formation, End-of-Year 2019 Playa Exposure Estimate

Revegetation atop playa: 4,722 acres
Source: Formation, End-of-Year 2019 Playa Exposure Estimate

Net exposed playa: ~ acres ( sq miles)

Click on the following links to display additional information:
Recent inflows
Salton Sea average annual salinity
SWRCB acreage milestones
Estimated annual playa PM10 emissions


Salton Sea Inflows


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

Salton Sea elevation, January 2003 – May 2021:

Days since water mitigation ended: 1359

Salton Sea links:

Desert Sun Video:


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.