Timeline of the Salton Sea

700 AD
Lake Cahuilla forms in the Salton Sink when the Colorado River silts up its normal exit to the Gulf of California and the flows northward through two overflow channels. The lake is subjected to wet and dry climatic cycles over several intervening years, filling up and drying out four times.

A large inflow of water from the gulf fills the lake to a body of water 26 times the size of the current Salton Sea. Its former water line is still visible on the nearby mountains.

The Colorado River delta is explored by Spanish explorers. Melchior Diaz travels up the mouth of the river now known as the Colorado River from the gulf and sends expeditions from the river to the present day Imperial Valley.

Don Juan de Ornate, Spanish Governor of New Mexico, explores the river that he names the Colorado River.

The last large infilling of Lake Cahuilla takes place.

Don Juan Bautista de Anza leads the first large European party through what is now the Imperial Valley on the way to missions of San Gabriel. The Salton Sink is a dry lake bed again.

Oliver M. Wozencraft records a flood from the Colorado River into the Salton Sink.

More Colorado River flooding into the Salton Sink takes place.

Imperial Valley is recognized as a potential desert garden spot if it can be adequately irrigated.

More Colorado River flooding into the Salton Sink takes place.

More Colorado River flooding into the Salton Sink takes place.

The U.S. Government establishes Torres Martinez Desert Cahuilla Indian Reservation with a grant of 640 acres.

More Colorado River flooding into the Salton Sink takes place, forming a 100,000-acre lake. Explorers discover the mouth of the Alamo River which flow from Baja California into the Salton Sea.

20,000 acres of land on the northern side of the Salton Sink are withdrawn from public use by the Torres Martinez Band of Desert Cahuilla Indians.

The Imperial Canal brings water from the Colorado River to the Imperial Valley.

Silt blocks the Imperial Canal preventing it from supplying water to the Imperial Valley.

Temporary.diversion of the Colorado River, constructed to replace water from the blocked canal, is breached by floodwaters. The river changes course and flows into the Salton Sink.

Floodwaters continue to fill the Salton Sea, washing away a chain of lakes along the route and threatening Imperial Valley's agriculture industry.

The Salton Sea is recorded at 195 feet below sea level.

Floodwaters continue to fill the Salton Sea until the Southern Pacific Railroad closes the river breach.

Sport fishing is first promoted at the Salton Sea.

Joseph Grinnell surveys the refilled lake and finds large breeding colonies of cormorants, white pelicans, and other birds.

The Imperial Irrigation District formed.

President Coolidge issues an executive order setting aside lands under the Salton Sea as a permanent drainage reservoir.

Congress authorizes construction of Hoover Dam and the All American Canal that Will control the Colorado River and flooding ..

The Salton Sea Wildlife Refuge is established for protection of ducks, geese, and shore birds.

Construction begins on the All American Canal.

Construction of the Coachella Canal begins.

Commercial fishermen start using the Salton Sea to supply mullet to coastal fish markets after German submarines make ocean fishing hazardous.

The All-American Canal begins supplying water to the Imperial Valley.

Orange mouth corvina becomes the first salt water game fish to be successfully established in the Salton Sea. Short fin corvina and gulf croacker are also successfully transplanted.

The Salton Sea State Park is dedicated. It became second largest state park in California.

Salton Sea's level is measured at 234.5 feet below sea level.

M. Penn Phillips Co., a subsidiary of Holly Corp., maps out a community on the West Shore of the Salton Sea, calling it Salton City.

North Shore Beach and Yacht Club Estates are opened on the north shore of the Salton Sea.

The California Department of Fish and Game predicts the Salton Sea will eventually die because of increasing salinity levels if action is not taken.

Tropical storm Kathleen sweeps through the Imperial Valley, flooding farmland and increasing the level of the Salton Sea. Above average rainfall for the next seven years, along with increased agricultural runoff and increased flows from Mexico, cause flooding of shoreline resorts.

Tropical storm Doreen sweeps through Imperial Valley, the second 100 year storm in two years.

Conservation efforts by the Imperial Irrigation District begin to stabilize the level of the lake, although fluctuations continue.

The Salton Sea Task Force is formed. It is the forerunner of the Salton Sea Authority, consisting of representatives from local government agencies.

The Salton Sea Authority is formed in a joint powers agreement among the counties of Riverside and Imperial plus the Coachella Valley Water District and Imperial Irrigation District.

The salinity of the Salton Sea approaches 45 ppt.

Congressman Sonny Bono decides to support of the Salton Sea and forms the Congressional Salton Sea Task Force.

Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt launches a multi-agency effort to restore the Salton Sea.

Congressman Bono is killed in a skiing accident. Mary Bono, his wife, is elected to Congress and continues the effort to restore the Salton Sea.

Congress passes the Salton Sea Reclamation Act directing the Secretary of the Interior, acting through the Bureau of Reclamation, to prepare a feasibility study on restoring the Salton Sea and submits it to Congress.

The Salton Sea Authority and the Bureau of Reclamation release plans for the restoration of the Salton Sea.

Several alternatives are tested to determine the best way to reduce the salinity of the Salton Sea.

The Salton Sea Authority enters into a partnership with the Salton Community Services District.

The Salton Sea Authority approves a contract with the University of Redlands to develop an environmental education curriculum focused on the Salton Sea.

The Salton Sea Authority and Kent SeaTech Corp break ground on a project to remove nutrients from agricultural drain water through the use of a natural process involving algae ponds and algae-eating fish.

Frustrated by the Interior Department's failure to produce a Salton Sea feasibility study, The Salton Sea Authority Board votes to jump-start the Salton Sea Restoration efforts by taking the lead in developing a restoration plan.

The Water Supply Reliability and Environmental Improvement Act of 2004 requires the Secretary of the Interior, in coordination with the State of California, and the Salton Sea Authority, to complete a feasibility study on a preferred alternative for restoration of the Salton Sea.

The State of California finalizes the Programmatic Environmental Impact Report on Restoration of the Salton Sea.

The Little Hoover Commission holds a public hearing at the University of California Riverside Palm Desert Campus, to review the State of California's Salton Sea environmental mitigation and restoration governance strategy.

Reclamation records the salinity of the Salton Sea at 57 ppt.

The State of California convenes a series of Salton Sea Management Plan agency stakeholder workshops.

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