The Salton Sea is a 525-square mile salt lake located on the San Andreas fault in southeastern California. The largest lake in California, it has existed intermittently in the Salton Basin for millions of years, swelling when fed by rainfall, disappearing completely during periods of drought. The Salton Sea’s present size and state, however, is wholly man-made. Between 1905 and 1907, poorly-managed irrigation systems coupled with natural flooding to create the modern Salton Sea. In the 1920s, it was developed as a tourist attraction, and a half-dozen resort towns sprung up on its shores over the next 30 years. The 1970s and 1980s saw the decline of the Salton Sea as a resort destination, as uncontrollable runoff from the mountains and irrigation systems caused the lake to expand and swallow much of the development. More recently, increased levels of pollutants from agricultural runoff have decimated the fish and bird populations that thrived here in the 20th century.
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