Malissa saw that the Board, driven by political pressure from high paid lobbyists, and by a desire for the most efficient resolution to the problem of overreliance on the Colorado, willfully ignored or downplayed likely long-range economic and environmental impacts to communities in the Imperial, Coachella and Mexicali Valleys.
The deal eventually reached avoided taking a hard look at devastating effects on the Salton Sea – effects that will have severe repercussions not just for wildlife, but for all the humans who live nearby. The Salton Sea is one of the few remaining stops on the Pacific flyway, the major north-south travel route for two-thirds of America’s migratory birds.
The QSA will reduce water flows to the Sea to a trickle; without a restoration plan, the Sea’s ecosystem will collapse – a disaster for the migratory and resident birds as well as the fish and invertebrates that live in the Sea.
In a torrent of cascading effects, the reduced inflows of water will expose thousands of acres of new shoreline; this ultra fine dust laden with pesticide residues from a half-century of agricultural runoff in turn will cause increased air pollution in an area already enduring frequent dust storms and the highest childhood asthma rate in the state.
As one of the Board’s only two public members representing the citizens of California, Malissa consistently questioned the Board’s short-sighted approach, repeatedly urging the power brokers to address and find effective ways to mitigate the destruction the QSA would likely wreak on the economic base and environment of the Coachella, Imperial and Mexicali Valleys.
When the Board formally approved the QSA in 2002, Malissa resigned and began an effort to stop the water deal until its economic and environmental impacts are fully mitigated.