Bombay Beach, Salton Sea

California’s Toxic Sea

Ringo Chiu

California, USA. January 2014

Bombay Beach, California, is home to the Salton Sea, the largest lake in the state. The lake, more than 200 feet below sea level, was created accidentally in 1905 when engineers attempting to increase water flow to nearby farms diverted too much water from the Colorado River.

In March 2012, the California Supreme Court upheld a massive water transfer system that would likely cut off the agricultural runoff that replenishes the Salton Sea. If the lake dries up, environmentalists and health advocates fear the dry seabed will be a source of toxic dust laced with selenium and arsenic that could spread across Southern California.