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Watch a Beautiful Short Doc About the Dying Salton Sea

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Gorgeous views of the enormous and decaying lake

The Salton Sea is such a famous, disastrous mistake that locals who see out-of-towners come through often assume they are making a documentary about the place. But for all the attention and photography, the conditions haven't improved too much at California's largest lake, which straddles the line between Imperial and Riverside counties and is mostly fed by agricultural runoff that is now drying up. Its water has become toxic and it's littered with fish carcasses.

In a short documentary called The Useless Sea, Open Valve Studios explores the incredibly saline body of water and the community around it, on the ground and from above (alert: cool drone shots).

For years, it seemed like everyone had just forgotten about the Salton Sea, or saw it solely as a great place for a post-apocalyptic photo shoot. But grassroots campaigns demanding attention for the site have kept going; last summer, an Inland Empire man walked the perimeter of the lake in the hot, hot summer to raise awareness about the dire situation, especially what might happen in 2017 when the last of the sea's already dwindling inflow of water is shut off.

(Spoiler: the lake will get too salty for anything to live there and as it dries it will introduce tons of alkaline dust into already polluted air.)

More recently, there's been a big push in the state legislature to do something about the Salton Sea, including naming a new Salton Sea Czar and "a new, pressing deadline" to get some restoration projects lined up pronto, says KCET. And while these plans are all still in the works, it's a lot more than has been done for the sea in a very long time.

Here's the whole beautiful, short doc: