A new entity known as the Salton Sea Authority is considering ways to keep the state's largest lake from deteriorating and even dying.

The area was an ancient salt sink until 1905, when an engineering mistake by land developers resulted in the basin being flooded with water from the Colorado River. The newly created Salton Sea -- which is 30% saltier than the ocean -- eventually accommodated such recreational uses as camping and fishing, and also provided a wildlife refuge for migrating birds.

But there are serious concerns that pollution -- from agricultural pesticide runoff and a river that flows from Mexico -- will help kill the body of water.

Riverside County, Imperial County, the Coachella Valley Water District, and the Imperial Irrigation District recently formed the authority to study ways for preserving the sea. But a cleanup effort probably would cost hundreds of millions of dollars, and it remains highly uncertain if or when funding sources can be found.

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