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Video: Exploring The Apocalyptic Salton Sea On The Verge Of Drying Up

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A new video explores the shrinking Salton Sea, from its abandoned buildings to the potential problems we'll face if it dries up for good. The YouTube channel Tom Explores Los Angeles takes a deeper look at many forgotten pieces of Los Angeles history, as Tom Carroll explores hidden or abandoned relics around Los Angeles and Southern California. Following up from his last exploration—the abandoned L.A. Jail—we now see Tom in the Salton Sea.

Located about 180 miles or so east of L.A., the shrinking Salton Sea was something of an accident. In 1905, engineers at the California Development Company dug irritation canals from the Colorado River into the Valley. They cut into the bank of the Colorado River to avoid silt buildup, but the water then breached canal and turned a once dry lake bed into the Salton Sea. For a time, the Salton Sea was a somewhat popular resort in the 1950s and 1960s. Tom says that one summer in the '60s, more people came to vacation at the Salton Sea than visited Yosemite. However, it never really developed the way people had expected it to. Now, the salty lake is mostly made of agricultural runoff. The lake doesn't smell good, and neither do masses of dead, rotting fish that can't survive in the lake. The Salton Sea is presently more popular with urban explorers who come to poke around in the abandoned resort buildings—like Tom.

Though Tom does wander many of the forgotten buildings, he takes a more thoughtful look at the sea and ponders its dubious future.

"In the year 2017, San Diego and other local water agencies will no longer be required to deliver water to the Salton Sea," he says in the beginning of the video. The water that is currently delivered there is called "mitigation water," which is basically to reduce the salt content in the sea.

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According to environmental specialist Jessica Lovecchio, who works with the Imperial Irrigation District, if nothing is done, the lake will disappear and expose 60,000 acres or so of 'playa.' There are some questions as to what will happen to the dust if the lake does dry up completely. Owens Lake in Owens Valley in Inyo County is a major source of dust pollution. In 1924, the water was diverted into the Los Angeles Aquaduct and in 2013, it's still the largest source of dust pollution in nation. The dust contains carcinogens like nickel and arsenic.

"There are no easy solutions. We want to keep the dust down, but we want to conserve water," Tom says.