Water Closet for May 5, 2014
What a very strange place is the Salton Sea in southern California. Off and on for many thousands of years it was not a sea at all. Then in 1905 manmade canals to irrigate its desert land received flood waters from the mighty Colorado River. Voila it became a lake the size of Essex County, about 50 feet deep. The water made a shallow lake in the bottom of a desert sink about 200 feet below sea level. People stocked it with fish. In the mid 20th century land developers came to accommodate mobile fishermen, water skiers, and party folks. The fish thrived and so did the real estate business for a while. In the 120 degree heat, the water wafts away.
Overflow irrigation from the Imperial Valley agricultural fields to the south now and then provide water that keeps the depth more or less up. They also add herbicides, pesticides, fertilizers and salts. The Salton Sea has became an enormous polluted puddle. The stocked natural desert species of fish died out and the adaptive freshwater tilapia introduced from Africa thrived even in water with greater salinity than seawater. At times of high water temperatures and resulting low dissolved oxygen their bodies rise belly up by the millions and stink. Most folks attracted to the land boom left or died, a few interesting characters hang on. Now the never-really-finished towns are dumps with a few old people and poor younger folks from dangerous parts of Los Angeles who have come for cheaper safer streets. Residents walk, bike, or ride beaten up old golf carts on once busy asphalt littered with junk. They get used to the periodic stenches. Some “love” the lonely place where almost complete freedom reigns.
Most of us on the Stream Team never knew much about the Salton Sea before happening last week upon a PBS TV “America Reframed” program. We caught it on the WORLD Channel. The hostess showed one of the strangest documentaries we’d ever seen. We’ll not say more about it then we have above.
By all means find and see for yourself this award winning documentary entitled “Plagues and Pleasures on the Salton Sea” by film makers Chris Metzler and Jeff Springer. The film, which shows many boom times’ photographs, is weird, sad and hilarious. The half hour interview that follows with Professor Umanu Lall, Director of Water Studies Center at Columbia University’s The Earth Institute is one of the best half hours we’ve ever seen on TV. Lall in his low key charming and brilliant way tells of water issues at the Salton Sea and around the world and suggests how we might plan for solving them.
WATER RESOURCE AND CONSERVATION INFORMATION
FOR MIDDLETON, BOXFORD AND TOPSFIELD
|Precipitation Data* for Month of:||Jan||Feb||March||April|
|30 Year Normal (1981 – 2010) Inches||3.40||3.25||4.65||4.53|
|2013 – 14 Central Watershed Actual||3.47||4.34||4.32||3.9 as of 4/29**|
Ipswich R. Flow Rate(S. Middleton USGS Gage) in Cubic Feet/ Second (CFS):
For April 29, 2014: Normal . . . 96 CFS Current Rate . . . 84 CFS
*Danvers Water Filtration Plant, Lake Street, Middleton is the source for actual precipitation data thru March. Normalsdata is from the National Climatic Data Center.
**Updated April precipitation data is from MST gage..