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Torres Martinez Indians host groundbreaking ceremony with U.S. EPA
Release Date: 4/6/2005
Contact Information: Francisco Arcaute, (213) 244-1815, Cell: (213) 798-1404, Main press line: (415) 947-8700
85-acre, $1.5 million wetland pilot project will clean up Whitewater River water
LOS ANGELES - The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, state of California, U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, and the Salton Sea Authority will join the Torres Martinez Desert Cahuilla Indians for the groundbreaking of an 85-acre, $1.5 million wetland project that will improve water quality from the nearby Whitewater River and enhance local wildlife.
The "Water Quality Wetland" project will treat the contaminated water using plants as natural filtration systems to remove phosphates, selenium, and bacteria from the incoming Whitewater River water, thus improving wildlife habitat.
As the Salton Sea continues to recede, the Torres Martinez Desert Cahuilla Indians will build shallow water habitats which will provide fresh water and suitable environments for over 400 species of birds and other wildlife. In addition, the Torres Martinez Desert Cahuilla Indians will install a small nursery to propagate native grasses, willows and other plants that will be used in the wetlands development.
"This project will not only benefit the Torres Martinez Desert Cahuilla Indian families, but the valued wildlife resources of this area," said Alexis Strauss, the director of the EPA's water division for the Pacific Southwest region. "The EPA is proud to join the state of California, U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, and the Salton Sea Authority in supporting this project."
"The Salton Sea is of great cultural and tribal significance to us," said Raymond Torres, chairman of the Torres Martinez Desert Cahuilla Indians. "We'd like to congratulate the EPA, state of California, U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, and the Salton Sea Authority for their financial backing of this very important project, one of many that will expand the north border of the Salton Sea."
The Torres Martinez Indian Reservation is located in the agriculturally rich Coachella Valley, consisting of approximately 24,800 acres of land, including over 11,000 acres under the north Salton Sea and 12 miles of Salton Sea shoreline.
The Whitewater River and stormwater culverts drain urban runoff into the Salton Sea, resulting in water contaminated by pesticides, fertilizer, and selenium.
For more information on the EPA's Tribal Programs, please visit: https://www.epa.gov/region09/indian/