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Searles Lake

Graphic California map showing the locations of Searles spill

A bird coverd in mineral deposits

Hypersaline industrial wastewater is discharged into several large ponds. Migrating birds stopping at the ponds have died from salt toxicosis, salt encrustation, oiling, and possibly other causes.


  • LOCATION: Searles Dry Lake, near Trona, San Bernardino County
  • DATE: Chronic and continuing.
  • INCIDENT SUMMARY: Hypersaline industrial wastewater is discharged into several large ponds. Migrating birds stopping at the ponds have died from salt toxicosis, salt encrustation, oiling, and possibly other causes.
  • RESPONSIBLE PARTY: Searles Valley Minerals (formerly IMC Chemicals)
  • NATURAL RESOURCE TRUSTEES: California Dept. of Fish and Wildlife, Lahonton Regional Water Quality Control Board.
  • RESOURCES IMPACTED: Birds (over 2,000 collected Jan 2000 through July 2005, primarily loons, grebes, and waterfowl).
  • SETTLEMENT DETAILS: The trustees settled the case using a mitigation plan approved under DFG Code 3005. The mitigation plan allows for the continuing take of birds (not to exceed an average of 241 birds/year) in exchange for continued bird protection and rescue efforts and a contribution of up to $550,000 (plus $10K/year for maintenance for 40 years) for a 100+ acre wetlands creation project at the south end of Owens Lake.
  • STATUS OF RESTORATION: Restoration completed.

Available Documents


Contact Information

Steve Hampton
Email: Steve.Hampton@wildlife.ca.gov
Phone: (916) 323-4724


Last update : 10/19/2017 2:42:51 AM