Tim Krantz, professor of environmental studies

Charting solutions for California’s largest lake.

When it comes to the Salton Sea, California’s largest lake, Professor of Environmental Studies Tim Krantz is an internationally recognized authority.

The California drought and the lake’s increasing salinity recently renewed interest in saving the Salton Sea, leading journalists from publications worldwide to contact Krantz for comment.

“The Salton Sea is the epitome of water conflicts that are exacerbated by the drought in the Pacific Southwest,” says Krantz, editor of the Salton Sea Atlas, former Salton Sea database program director, and former member of the Salton Sea Science Subcommittee. “The clock is ticking, and there’s been very little action.”

Dozens of conceptual plans on how to save the Salton Sea have been proposed, from creating a 15-mile dam across its middle to putting up more than 100 miles of dykes. Yet all of the proposals for partial sea solutions rely primarily on water from the Colorado River, which Krantz says is not currently a reliable water supply.

The proposed plans also present huge infrastructure projects set astride the San Andreas fault, making them vulnerable to a potential catastrophic earthquake.

“That could shatter an $8-billion to $12-billion infrastructure project into pieces,” he says. “The push now is to re-evaluate sea-to-sea connections, because the only water we can rely upon is the ocean.”

Krantz is taking a fresh look at “whole sea” solutions, including connecting the Salton Sea to the Sea of Cortez or to the ocean in Carlsbad through 12-foot diameter pipes that can be bored through mountains.

He hopes to organize an intensive geodesign workshop, working with Esri—Environmental Systems Research Institute Inc., headquartered in the city of Redlands—to bring the best pipeline and renewable energy experts together with all the technical GIS support needed to evaluate and develop sea-to-sea proposals.

“I’m optimistic that the solutions are out there,” he says. “We know how to do this. We just need to decide what to do.”

Watch KCET report featuring Tim Krantz
Listen to 89.3 KPCC interview featuring Tim Krantz