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Posts tagged Imperial Valley

Imperial Valley and Salton Sea, from USA to Mexico

33.2N 115.7W

May 8th, 2012 Category: Lakes

USA and Mexico - April 17th, 2012

The Imperial Valley lies in California’s Imperial County, in the southeastern part of the state. The Valley is bordered by the Colorado River to the east and, in part, the Salton Sea to the west (visible here as a dark blue, pear-shaped lake). The city of Mexicali can be observed as a grey area amidst the green crops.

South of Mexicali is the Mexicali Valley, one of the largest and most fertile valleys in Mexico. It has over fifty different crops and is similar to the Imperial Valley in its agricultural production. It is a primary source of water for the region, having the largest irrigation district in Mexico.

Environmental Issues Affecting Salton Sea, USA

33.2N 115.9W

April 5th, 2012 Category: Lakes

USA and Mexico - April 3rd, 2012

The Salton Sea (the pear-shaped lake in the upper left quadrant) was formed by the joint forces of humans and nature about 100 years ago when the turbulent Colorado River breached the levee of an early irrigation diversion channel and flooded the low-lying desert of Imperial and Riverside counties.

According to the Water Education Association, although it was once California’s largest fresh water lake, the 360-square mile Salton Sea today is saltier than the Pacific Ocean. Without a natural outlet, water trapped more than 200 feet below sea level in this massive desert sink continually evaporates, increasing the salt content in the remaining water and threatening the sea’s fishery. It is a natural process; one embodied in the highly saline Great Salt Lake in Utah and the Dead Sea of the Middle East.

Under natural conditions the Salton Sea might well have evaporated by now, following the course set by Ancient Lake Cahuilla, if it weren’t for artificial inflow from agricultural drainage, storm runoff and wastewater discharges from Mexico and California.

Yet in an ironic twist, this vital supply of water that empties to the sea–showing the rate of salinity increase and sustaining its wildlife–also causes problems. Salt, selenium and pesticides are carried into the sea with agricultural return flows, which originate largely from Imperial Valley farms.

Attention also has focused on the poor quality of water in the New River at the Mexico-California boundary, although there is some controversy over whether pollutants that originate in Mexico or California are the greatest threat to the sea itself and the wildlife of the area.


Salton Sea and Gran Desierto de Altar Near Gulf of California, USA and Mexico

33.2N 115.7W

February 22nd, 2012 Category: Deserts, Lakes

USA and Mexico - January 2nd, 2012

Visible as a navy blue area near the center of the left edge of this image of western USA and northwestern Mexico is the Salton Sea, a shallow, saline, endorheic rift lake located directly on the San Andreas Fault, predominantly in California’s Imperial Valley. The lake occupies the lowest elevations of the Salton Sink in the Colorado Desert of Imperial and Riverside counties in Southern California.

While it varies in dimensions and area with fluctuations in agricultural runoff and rainfall, the Salton Sea averages 15 mi (24 km) by 35 mi (56 km). With an average area of roughly 525 sq mi (1,360 km2), the Salton Sea is the largest lake in California. Average annual inflow is 1,360,000 acre·ft (1.68 km3), which is enough to maintain a maximum depth of 52 ft (16 m) and a total volume of about 7,500,000 acre·ft (9.3 km3).

An agricultural area can be seen south of the lake, near the edge of the Gran Desierto de Altar, one of the major portions of the Sonoran Desert of Mexico, including the only active erg dune region in North America. It extends across much of the northern border of the Gulf of California, reaching more than 100 kilometers east to west, and over 50 km north to south, and constitutes the largest continuous wilderness area within the Sonoran Desert.

The Gran Desierto covers approximately 5,700 km2, most of it in the Mexican state of Sonora. The northernmost edges overlap the border into southwestern Arizona. The dominant sand sheets and dunes range in thickness from less than one meter to greater than 120 meters. The total volume of sand in the Gran Desierto is about 60 km3. Most of that volume was delivered by the Pleistocene Colorado River which flowed through the present-day Gran Desierto area. The present-day Colorado River can be seen emptying sediments into the northern part of the Sea of Cortez (Gulf of California).

Land Around the Colorado River, in USA and Mexico

36.0N 114.7W

July 22nd, 2009 Category: Lakes, Rivers

USA and Mexico - June 24th, 2009

USA and Mexico - June 24th, 2009

Dense clouds cling to the west coast of Baja California, Mexico, and southern California, USA. The east coast, however, is cloud-free, and the Colorado River can be seen disharching thick brown sediments around Montague Island and into the Sea of Cortes.

The large tan area north of the rivermouth is the Gran Desierto de Altar, part of the Sonoran Desert. Northwest of its dunes is the Imperial Valley in southern California, which is checkered by fields thanks to irrigation from the Colorado River.

The upper reaches of this agricultural zone meet the Salton Sea, a saline lake. North of the sea is Lake Mead, an artificial reservoir created by the Hoover Dam on the Colorado River.

Desert Agriculture around Salton Sea, California

March 14th, 2009 Category: Lakes

California, USA - March 10th, 2009

California, USA - March 10th, 2009

The Salton Sea is actually a saline lake below sea level, located in the arid Colorado Desert in Southern California, USA. The Imperial Valley lies below the lake.

Much agriculture can be seen in this valley, particularly to the southeast of the Salton Sea. Crops grow here despite the inhospitable desert due to irrigation water from the Colorado River, supplied to the area via canals.

Due to its complex irrigation system, this part of the Imperial Valley is called the Imperial Irrigation District. Its water distribution system includes over one hundred canal and pipeline branches.