Though sparks were expected to fly Tuesday, all that fizzled down to discussion of where the Imperial Irrigation District stands on transferring water.
Legal counsel updated the board and public at Tuesday’s IID Board of Directors meeting on the water transfer, the petition to stop mitigation water to the Salton Sea and why he thinks the district’s consulting attorney was wrong in a presentation last month.
David Osias, a partner at Allen Matkins in San Diego, said though he’s been updating the board regularly in closed session, it’s been awhile since he went before the public.
Through the nearly two hours of discussion Osias went over current issues and answered questions from the board and public.
Litigation-wise in the water transfer cases “IID continues to win,” Osias said. Of the 15 Quantification Settlement Agreement cases filed against the IID and three cross-complaints, most have been dismissed, while a few still await trial. Overall for those challenging the IID it’s been an expensive and fruitless effort to undo the QSA that has been rejected by courts in three different counties and many different courts, he said.
Now the district is awaiting a new court conference date to organize how much time will be needed before going back to trial at the Sacramento Superior Court, and IID is pursuing its petition to sell mitigation water that is set to go to the Salton Sea and use the money for mitigation projects, he said. The environmental process is under way, and though there have been challenges, they should be resolved in IID’s favor in 2012, he said.
The district may be able to get a state water board hearing by mid-2013, he said.
Osias spent a portion of his presentation going over concerns spelled out by another consulting IID attorney Charles T. DuMars of the New Mexico law firm Law & Resource Planning Associates, L.P.
DuMars, Osias contended, was likely not able to digest all the information dealing with the QSA in the short amount of time that he had. There were some mistakes in DuMars presentation that he gave to the board last month, Osias said.
One of those mistakes, Osias claims, dealt with Decision 1600, which DuMars had said was put into place because of a coalition of political forces including the federal government and Metropolitan Water District. DuMars said IID should take a formal position that the water decision must be reversed.
However, Osias countered, it’s a final decision that has already gone through the appeals process, he said. If the district were to try to force the issue, it could harm their relationship with the state water board just before the local district asks for a change in its mitigation process.
DuMars also makes the assumption that the state won’t allocate funds, but there’s precedent to show that the state won’t renege on its promise, Osias said. Osias added he didn’t think it was good for the district to have an adviser saying that the state won’t pay.
Members of the public, as well as board members, had time to ask questions of Osias, and more time may b e coming up.
DuMars is set to go before the IID board at its first meeting in March, and board members and some in the public have asked that Osias be present as well so both points of view can come together. It remains to be seen whether that will occur.
Staff Writer Elizabeth Varin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 760-337-3441.
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