The Salton Sea was included in the Obama budget revealed last week – not the $9 billion estimated cost for full restoration, but $200,000. It is the first time that an administration had included the dangerously saline body of water in its formal budget request.

The blue lake in the midst of the Colorado Desert was born from prolonged flood levels on the Colorado River in 1905 may not have a long history, but the once-storied vacation spot now has a higher salt-content than the Pacific Ocean. And as soon as 2018, its salt levels may rise to a point that it will be fatal to its population of salt-tolerant tilapia. Should the tilapia die-out, migratory birds would be left without a vital food source in the area.

The $200,000 plan would create a series of shallow ponds that could serve as habitats for the Sea’s fish and bird populations. Congress approved roughly $30 million for the project in 2007, and the County has $24 million in funding available from Proposition 84 to put toward the project.

The Salton Sea’s stench offended much of Southern California last year as strong winds pushed the sulfuric smell of organic decay into more heavily populated areas. That decay may be attributed to policies from the 1950s that imported fish to the sea to promote sport fishing. As salt levels increased, fish died off and the tourist attraction to the inland sea began waning.

Read the full article at the San Bernardino Sun.