While some worry whether a pipeline will line the area between Imperial County and San Diego, others have said it’s nothing more than a pipedream.
The San Diego County Water Authority board has reinvigorated the idea of having a pipeline to transfer water from the Imperial Valley to San Diego. While the idea is not new — it initially was studied between 1996 and 2002 — it is being brought back as the authority looks into its regional water planning.
Several alternatives are being looked at for how SDCWA will get its water through 2035, said Project Manager Dave Chamberlain. That includes possibly getting more water from the north, desalination facilities and the pipeline to Imperial County.
There are previous studies of the proposed pipeline to send Quantification Settlement Water to San Diego either tunneling or pumping the water through canals over the mountains, he said. The distances of the old proposals vary from 71 miles to 90 miles of pipeline with a price tag in 2001 from $1.4 billion to $1.9 billion.
Some at the local water district are concerned about what is coming out of SDCWA.
“I would say that’s a little more than a straw in the river,” said Imperial Irrigation District Director Jim Hanks at Tuesday’s Board of Directors meeting. “I would say that’s a guzzler out of the Imperial Valley.”
He worried that the pipeline would lead to another transfer, and that’s something he will not vote for, he said. He asked that a report come back to the board about the potential impacts to the IID. The straws are coming out of Imperial Valley.
Board President John Pierre Menvielle said that he sees it more as a way for SDCWA to avoid going through another water agency’s pipelines to get the QSA water. It’s not about getting in place a second water transfer.
“The people are against a second straw in the river,” he said. “It’s not going to happen.”
IID General Manager Kevin Kelley said he would bring back to the board the specifications on the project, but doesn’t think the pipeline project itself is likely to come to pass.
“That is a revival of an earlier proposal that predates the QSA,” he said. “I doubt that you could get anyone from San Diego to go on the record, but I see it as posturing in its continued war of words with Metropolitan (Water District of Southern California).”
SDCWA is involved with what some have termed “water wars” against Metropolitan Water District of Southern California. Met imports water from Northern California and the Colorado River and distributes it to its 26 water agencies throughout the Southern California coast, including San Diego County.
SDCWA claims the regional water agency has set rates in a way to penalize users, water supply charges too low and water transportation charges too high. The San Diego agency also has recently claimed that Met has put in place a “shadow government” to make decisions against SDCWA. However, Met has said that the secret society claims are a red herring.
San Diego County Water Authority’s board has not yet decided whether to put in place a pipeline, rather it’s only in the analysis stage, said Assistant General Manager Dennis Cushman. It all goes to the authority’s water reliability plan.
The issues with Met are certainly a factor of the authority’s water, but it’s not the only one, he said. And the board is a long way from confronting those kinds of decisions, as the preliminary report won’t be back before the board until late fall.
“At the end of the day it’s a business decision,” he said.
Staff Writer Elizabeth Varin can be reached at email@example.com or 760-337-3441.
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