The Imperial Irrigation District is concerned that it may not benefit from an agreement that would allow Mexico to store water under Lake Mead and possibly generate additional water for California.
At issue is Minute 319, a five-year pilot program between the U.S. and Mexico that would index Mexico’s water allocations from the Colorado River to surplus conditions and droughts. The pact is scheduled to be signed Nov. 20.
“It would provide for the first time ever reduced deliveries to Mexico under low reservoir conditions and allow Mexico to share in increased buys under high reservoir conditions,” said Terry Fulp, U.S. Bureau of Reclamation regional director.
The pact would also have Arizona and Nevada water agencies pay for improvements to Mexico’s infrastructure and to implement water conservation measures that will generate about 100,000 acre-feet of water over five years. Those agencies would split about half of that water, with the rest going to the Metropolitan Water District. IID directors voiced concern that the district, holding senior rights to water from the Colorado River, was left out of the equation. Although there is a side-letter between MWD and IID that addresses those concerns, IID officials said it does not necessarily guarantee that the IID will actually get any of this water.
Minute 319 gained steam after a 2010 earthquake damaged Mexico’s irrigation infrastructure south of Mexicali, and Mexico asked the U.S. to allow it to store water while it made repairs to its canals.
That the pact might make more water available, even if it does not go to the IID, may still benefit the district in the long run.
“The fact that additional water can be made available to others in the United States reduces pressure on the IID,” said IID special counsel John Carter.
Staff Writer Antoine Abou-Diwan can be reached at 760-337-3454 or email@example.com
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