Weekender | The Salton Sea: The worst lake you've never heard ofIn 2020, the Salton Sea was described by Palm Springs Life Magazine as “the bi...Weekender | The Salton Sea: The worst lake you've never heard of
In 2020, the Salton Sea was described by Palm Springs Life Magazine as “the biggest environmental disaster in California history.” With the largest lake in California holding such a bleak title, it’s amazing how obscure its legacy is.
Over spring break, we decided to go on a road trip to visit an eccentric settlement in the middle of the lower Colorado desert, known as a Slab City. This settlement is most well known for being a site of post-apocalyptic garbage art and a home for colorful nomads. Due to its libertarian ethos, it is billed as the “last free place in America.” Slab City also happens to be situated in Niland, a small town just a few miles southeast of the Salton Sea. Before planning our trip, we had never previously heard of the Salton Sea, but as we researched what we were going to do on our trip, we discovered that the sea, peculiarly, was of vastly more interest than the city itself. Unsurprisingly, we actually spent most of our time exploring there instead.
Trying to figure out the exact history of what happened to the Salton Sea is as difficult as seeing what’s beneath the surface of its murky, toxic and algae-infested waters. Throughout its strange history, there are contradictions, errors built upon errors, disagreements, bureaucratic bottlenecks and a continued argument about what exactly people should do next. There seems to be no solution to the massive problem of the Salton Sea, and for decades it has sat, semi-abandoned, accumulating more and more complications.