No dignity for the Salton Sea in this DCP

May 19, 2019

If the Salton Sea could speak for itself, what would it say?

That’s the provocative question raised in the short video above, which builds on an essay that appeared in the last installment of the Salton Seasaw.

Both pieces examine the same events of March 28, 2019, when Rep. Tom McClintock hijacked a House subcommittee hearing on the federal Drought Contingency Plan and issued his notorious condemnation of the Salton Sea.

WTF, indeed.

McClintock’s job that day was to praise the DCP, not to bury the Salton Sea, but he inexplicably felt the need to do both. What made it inexplicable is that passage of the legislation was never in doubt; in fact, it was virtually assured, so any remarks he made would be because he wanted to make them (they were scripted, as it turned out, which is even worse).

In doing so, he betrayed a stunning lack of understanding about the contemporary sea and its connection to the Colorado River.

But he also answered the original question: If the Salton Sea could speak, what would it say?

According to Mr. McClintock, it doesn’t matter, because, “in the vast scheme of things,” the sea is “a terrible accident.”

Someone on the panel should have told him how much the Salton Sea matters to the Colorado River – and to the DCP – and how it can only matter more in the future, but no one did.

Someone could have pointed out that the Salton Sea may be shrinking as a lake, but as a public health threat and a cog in the machinery of moving water in both basins, its impact on the river has never loomed larger.

But no one did.

The Colorado River community can run away from the Salton Sea, but it can’t hide from the fact that the crisis it is evading there is inextricably linked to the one it is trying to avert on the river.

Failure wasn’t an option in getting the DCP done.

Sadly, dignity for the Salton Sea wasn’t, either.

The Editors