In 1900 the Salton Sea was called the Salton Sink, and was, at the time, a dry geological depression, deep and wide, with vast salty deposits on its floor.
Commercial interests grew around it: salt farmers harvested the basin, and the California Development Company began an irrigation project to send water from the Colorado River to surrounding farmland, which exists today.
But, since the Colorado River was under control, its water wasn’t supplying the desert sea with water anymore; farming continued to thrive in the area with more controlled irrigation, and unregulated agricultural runoff began to flow into the lake from nearby farms, sustaining its water levels to a degree.
The Salton Sea had been slowly shrinking since the 1950s, but hurricanes in 1976 and 1977 further devastated the area.
Current playa control plans of the Salton Sea Task Force include finding areas that are higher in arsenic and copper, in order to control those first, with an initial goal of 12,000 acres of habitat creation and control.