IID revises water order to support Colorado River, resolve Salton Sea pre-delivery issue
From the Imperial Irrigation District:
In step with focusing its efforts on future Colorado River negotiations, the Imperial Irrigation District Board of Directors, Monday, ratified revising its 2019 water order to resolve a longstanding issue between the district and the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation over the 2010 pre-delivery of water to the Salton Sea.
“Resolving this issue helps provide a strong base from which both Reclamation and IID can move forward as we work with other Colorado River basin stakeholders to develop the next set of operational guidelines,” said Erik Ortega, IID board president. “This demonstrates IID’s commitment to finding common ground in support of the river as the 2007 Colorado River Interim Guidelines are set to expire at the end of 2025.”
IID’s revised 2019 water order was submitted last week and now includes an additional 46,546 acre-feet of conserved water. This water will remain in the river to build elevation at Lake Mead and benefit all Colorado River water users.
General Manager Henry Martinez and designated staff have been in discussions with Reclamation to address the issue and the board recently authorized them to develop the mechanism that resolves it.
The revised water order is subject to Reclamation approval after the final true-up of IID’s 2019 water conservation program yields and final water accounting calculations. IID will then be reimbursed approximately $6.3 million from the Quantification Settlement Agreement Joint Powers Authority from the remaining funds budgeted for Salton Sea mitigation deliveries.
Pre-delivery in 2010
At a time when the QSA had been invalidated and there was great uncertainty, in 2010, the district pre-delivered 46,546 acre-feet of its consumptive use entitlement to the Salton Sea. The district did this to satisfy mitigation obligations for 2011 and part of 2012, meet existing permit requirements and avoid associated financial risk.
Asserting then, and today, that the consumptive use of Colorado River water for environmental mitigation purposes was appropriate and prudent, the district recognizes that others may have a differing view and will “agree to disagree,” Board President Ortega said. With this action, he added, the IID Board is demonstrating its commitment to the river and its leadership role in the Lower Basin.
Metropolitan Water District, Bard Water District partner for Colorado River sustainability in California
Agreement supports agricultural, urban economies
Joint press release from the Metropolitan Water District and the Bard Water District
A landmark, seven-year seasonal land fallowing agreement that will provide Colorado River water to benefit California cities and farms has been signed by the Metropolitan Water District and Bard Water District.
After completing a successful voluntary seasonal fallowing pilot program in 2016 and 2017, Metropolitan proposed a long-term seasonal fallowing agreement from 2020 through 2026. Under the agreement, Bard farmers will be paid not to grow water-intensive crops from April 1 through July 31. The water saved will be made available to Metropolitan for current urban needs or stored in Lake Mead for future use.
“The Colorado River is a lifeline to millions of people in seven states and two countries, but the reality is that there is an imbalance between supplies and demands that is being compounded by the effects of climate change,” said Metropolitan General Manager Jeffrey Kightlinger. “This agreement is an innovative approach to preserve California agriculture while ensuring water reliability for our urban communities.”
Bard Water District is located in the southeastern corner of California bordering Yuma, Arizona. Colorado River water is diverted from the All American Canal into the Bard Water District to irrigate approximately 7,120 acres for agriculture purposes.
Steve Alameda, President of the Board for the Bard Water District, noted that agriculture plays a huge role in supporting the local economy.
“We’re proud to help promote sustainability of a precious resource – the Colorado River – while preserving the farms that are so important to our community, and to the customers they serve across California and the nation,” Alameda said.
Metropolitan will pay $452 per acre fallowed between April and July, up to $1.4 million annually, with no more than 3,000 acres left idle. Of the payments made, 75 percent goes to farmers under individual agreements, while 25 percent is paid to Bard Water District for infrastructure improvements to an aging water delivery system.
The program is estimated to make up to 6,000 acre-feet of water available annually for Metropolitan’s 5,200 square-mile service area, which is enough water to meet the needs of about 18,000 Southern California households for a year.
“This program will provide mutual benefits to both agencies and will demonstrate how urban-agriculture partnerships can work,” said Nick Bahr, General Manager for the Bard Water District. “Our partnership with local farmers will help us make needed upgrades to our water delivery system.”
This latest agreement means Metropolitan now has partnerships in place with every agricultural entity in California that uses Colorado River water. The partnership follows those with Imperial Irrigation District, Palo Verde Irrigation District, the Coachella Valley Water District and the Quechan Indian Tribe.
“Collaboration continues to be one of our greatest tools in ensuring water reliability for Southern California,” said Metropolitan Chairwoman Gloria Gray. “As Colorado River water users, we face significant challenges, but we’ve shown time and again we can come together to develop innovative solutions such as this one. I am deeply appreciative of Bard Water District’s partnership and look forward to the benefits of this collaboration.”
While strengthening its imported water supplies, Metropolitan continues to reduce reliance on those sources through conservation, water storage and the development of new local supplies.
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