On September 29, 2015, Coachella Valley Water District (“CVWD”) announced the launch of a new website that is designed to be “a single source of critical information” on the region’s water crisis and the importance of the Quantification Settlement Agreement (“QSA”). It was released in direct response to Imperial Irrigation District’s (“IID”) request to modify the 2002 water rights order issued by the State Water Resources Control Board (“State Board”).
According to CVWD, IID put the QSA in jeopardy in November 2014 when it submitted a petition to the State Board requesting that the State Board modify its 2002 water rights order to condition IID’s water transfers on the State of California funding and implementing a Salton Sea restoration plan. The water transfers in question are IID’s transfers to San Diego County Water Authority under the QSA. (For more on IID’s petition, see “Imperial Irrigation District Petitions State Board for Salton Sea Restoration,” JOW January 2015).
In a press statement, CVWD calls IID’s request “unreasonable” and maintains that the QSA mitigates the QSA’s impacts on the Salton Sea—but “restoration of the Salton Sea was never part of the QSA.”
CVWD Board President John Powell Jr. iterated a similar sentiment in an opinion article that appeared in The Desert Sun on October 10, 2015 (and is available on the new website). Powell argues that, in addition to water stability, the QSA provides economic stability and says, “It is irresponsible and dangerous to hold the QSA hostage over restoration of the Salton Sea…” He highlights a potential consequence of undermining the QSA: federal take-over of the region’s Colorado River allocation.
The website (waterforthefuture.org) was launched in conjunction with CVWD’s community affairs efforts and is the product of collaboration among water leaders and experts.
Written by Marta L. Weismann
Publisher’s Note: Dr. Smith served as an economic advisor to the Imperial Irrigation District from 1996 through 2011. He participated in the negotiation of the IID-SDCWA agreement and the QSA. He was a witness on behalf of IID at the Board hearings in 2002. He also represented IID in its acquisition of 42,000 acres of farmland in Imperial Valley from Western Farms and represented IID in the financing of that acquisition. The analysis, opinions and conclusions expressed, as always in the Journal of Water, are his own and do not reflect the opinions or positions of any past or current clients of Stratecon Inc.