A Corona civil engineer and technical director was named the Salton Sea Authority’s new executive director by the agency’s board, the authority announced Friday.
Roger Shintaku, who works at Elan Associates in Corona, will begin work in January.
His background includes experience in strategic planning, project development, water resources planning and liaison work with governmental agencies, the authority stated in a release. Shintaku has also helped secure and process hundreds of millions of dollars in government grants and loans, agency officials said.
The agency is a joint powers authority that consists of Riverside and Imperial Counties, the Coachella Valley Water District, Imperial Irrigation District and the Torres-Martinez Band of Desert Cahuilla Indians. It advocates for local control and local solutions to preserve and restore the sea, which is slowly dying as its salinity increases.
The sea is expected to shrink much faster by 2018, when a water transfer deal to San Diego County enters full implementation and the sea's water supply via agricultural runoff is reduced. It could ultimately expose more than 140 square miles of lake bottom sediments to the desert wind, damaging the Coachella and Imperial valleys' public health and economies. Fish and bird habitats would also face an ecological disaster, scientists say.
“I look forward to finding solutions that will help ensure a long and healthy future for this unique resource,” Shintaku said in the release.
Shintaku outlined a vision of a revitalized sea once again becoming a recreational destination, as well as a center for green energy.
“Everything is interconnected there: the aquatic ecosystem, the health of the water, air quality, and tourism,” he said.
Shintaku led a smaller-scale but similar effort with the Lake Elsinore Management Project to reduce water loss from evaporation, improve water quality and enhance fish and wildlife habitats, authority officials stated.
“Roger will bring a wealth of experience and ingenuity to the post,” said Riverside County Supervisor Marion Ashley, an authority board member.
“He is just the sort of leader needed to bring the goals of the Salton Sea Authority to fruition.”