Imperial County and IID to collaborate on Salton Sea restoration efforts

Imperial County and the Imperial Irrigation District (IID) signed a Memorandum of Understanding to address public health and environmental concerns at the Salton Sea

On October 24th, Imperial County, the Imperial County Air Pollution Control District and the Imperial Irrigation District (IID) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) committing the parties to work collaboratively to address public health and environmental concerns at the Salton Sea.

The MOU was drafted largely in response to growing awareness of the Salton Sea’s decreasing inflow, which will worsen after water deliveries to the Sea under Quantification Settlement Agreement (QSA) mitigation measures end on December 31, 2017.  As the water level in the Salton Sea drops, dry lakebed exposure will result in the increased emission of the air pollutant PM10, threatening human and wildlife health in the region.  Recognizing that increased PM10 emissions may also prompt sanctions from the U.S. EPA that could set limits on transportation projects and economic growth in the region, the County and IID have agreed to share the costs of preventing further ecological decline around the Sea.  The parties contend that the use of Colorado River water to carry out restoration projects at and around the Salton Sea constitutes reasonable and beneficial use of the water under state and federal laws.

Additionally, to ensure water supply reliability in ImperialCounty for such environmental efforts and for agricultural, municipal and industrial interests, IID will, under the MOU, hire consultants to conduct an Alternative Water Analysis.  The County and IID will accordingly mutually pursue projects, including desalinization, to develop water resources to supplement Colorado River water.

The parties also hope that their cooperative sustainability efforts will put pressure on the state of California to begin to fulfill their obligations to improve the Salton Sea ecosystem under California Fish & Game Code § 2931 and to fund restoration projects under the QSA. In 2006, the California Secretary for Resources drafted a plan that estimated a cost of $8.9 billion (in 2006 dollars) for the state to pursue these projects, but the funds have not yet been appropriated.  An added cost of $2.2 billion (in 2006 dollars) was determined for the County and IID to help implement the Salton Sea Authority Plan for Multi-Purpose Project.  The parties propose revisiting and modifying this plan.

The County and IID intend to secure restoration funds from the state, as well as from the federal government and private developers, by establishing geothermal, wind, algae and solar energy resources around the Salton Sea and transporting the renewable energy throughout California.

The MOU may not be terminated on or before January 1, 2018.

Read the MOU

Written by Stratecon Staff