Contribute Now
America ReFramed | Plagues and Pleasures on the Salton Sea | Topics | WMHT

America ReFramed | Plagues and Pleasures on the Salton Sea

Posted by WMHT Web Editor on


Watch Tuesday, August 12, 2014 at 8pm on WORLD.

Once known as the "California Riviera," the Salton Sea is now called one of America's worst ecological disasters: a fetid, stagnant, salty lake, that coughs up dead fish and birds by the thousands in frequent die-offs that occur. However, amongst the ruins of this man-made mistake, a few remaining eccentrics (a roadside nudist, a religious folk artist, a Hungarian revolutionary, and real estate speculators) struggle to keep a remodeled version of the original Salton Sea dream alive. 

Accidentally created by an engineering error in 1905, reworked in the 50's as a world class vacation destination for the rich and famous, suddenly abandoned after a series of hurricanes, floods, and fish die-offs, and finally almost saved by Congressman Sonny Bono, the Salton Sea has a bittersweet past. The film shares these people's stories and their difficulties in keeping their unique community alive, as the nearby cities of Los Angeles and San Diego attempt to take the agricultural water run-off that barely sustains the Salton Sea. 

While covering the historical, economic, political, and environmental issues that face the Sea, Plagues and Pleasures on the Salton Sea offers an offbeat portrait of the peculiar and individualistic people who populate its shores. It is an epic western tale of fantastic real estate ventures and failed boomtowns, inner-city gangs fleeing to white small town America, and the subjective notion of success and failure amidst the ruins of the past. 

America ReFramed presents a rich and fascinatingly important conversation on water, with special guest Professor Upmanu Lall, Director of the Water Center at Columbia University's The Earth Institute.

Independent Lens Blog

Sad News about Robin Poor Bear

This weekend we received sad news about the subject of the Independent Lens/FRONTLINE film Kind Hearted Woman. Robin Poor Bear, a.k.a. Charboneau, passed away this...

The Cost of Love: Caring for Adults with Intellectual or Developmental Disabilities

Did you know that November is National Family Caregiver Month? (Here are some suggested ways of thanking the...

NPR People & Places