Dr. Ruiz’s Vision to Restore Salton Sea Comes to Life with First Large-Scale Groundbreaking Project
WASHINGTON, D.C. - Today, Dr. Raul Ruiz (CA-36) spoke on the House floor to celebrate the groundbreaking of the first large-scale Salton Sea restoration project at Red Hill Bay Marina. The Red Hill Bay Project is the first large scale shovel-ready project that will begin to address the adverse health, environmental, and economic effects associated with the receding Salton Sea.
“The Red Hill Bay Project is the first step in realizing my vision to combat the health threats, environmental crisis, and adverse economic impacts of the receding Sea by transforming this threat into an opportunity to prevent dust exposure and spur renewable energy and tourism,” said Dr. Ruiz. “This first large scale ground-breaking project shows that if we work together, we can achieve results towards a bigger vision.”
“Projects like the Red Hill Bay Restoration are a first step toward restoring the Salton Sea, which is essential to the health, environment and economy of the entire region,” Senator Boxer said. “By taking action now, we can improve air quality, protect public health and provide critical habitat for the millions of migrating birds that depend on the Salton Sea.”
"The Red Hill Bay project should serve as a catalyst for much needed, collaboratively-based solutions at the Salton Sea. And as we look to manage the Sea, we must follow the Red Hill Bay model of cooperation and partnership. Any solutions to our issues at the Sea need to consider all priorities, and account for the views of the various stakeholders and landowners in the region," said Jennifer Gimbel, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary, Water and Science, Department of the Interior.
"Congressman Ruiz and the supporters of the Salton Sea Restoration have shown that with determination and hard work even what seems impossible can be done. My congratulations on this major step in the Salton Sea," said U.S. Department of Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, 2009 – 2013.
The Red Hill Bay Restoration Project will cover 420 acres of exposed shoreline with water, and create geothermal energy access corridors and well pads for future renewable energy development. In addition, the project model can be replicated to guide future restoration efforts.
The Salton Sea is faced with eroding water quality and diminished water supplies. This has caused massive fish and bird deaths, and as the sea shrinks, exposed sediments release wind-blown contaminants and fine particles that pose human health risks to the surrounding medically underserved communities that already have the highest rates for pediatric asthma hospitalization in the State of California. According to a 2014 Pacific Institute study, the public health costs alone of inaction at the Salton Sea could exceed $35 billion through 2047.
In December 2012, Dr. Ruiz, Senator Barbara Boxer, and then-Secretary Ken Salazar committed to working together to break ground on the Red Hill Bay Project. Since then, Dr. Ruiz has hosted meetings and briefings, convened round-table discussions with high-level federal and state officials, and sent more than a dozen letters to key decision makers. He has also fought for Salton Sea restoration to be included in the President’s budget and, with bipartisan support, introduced a budget amendment on the House floor to keep the project moving forward.
In the 114th Congress, Dr. Ruiz serves on the House Natural Resources and Veterans’ Affairs Committees.