The Imperial Irrigation District is scheduled to vote on a cost-sharing agreement with San Diego County Water Authority to decide how the two agencies will split costs for environmental reviews of reducing mitigation water to the sea.
The IID petitioned the State Water Resources Control Board to eliminate the district’s water transfer requirement of having to send mitigation water to the Salton Sea between 2014 and 2017. Instead the district would transfer the water and use the proceeds to develop habitat and air mitigation projects that district officials feel have a better environmental impact.
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The QSA is a set of agreements approved in 2003 that transfers IID-entitlement water to the coastal urban communities. Part of the agreement included the state taking over Salton Sea mitigation should the price tag go above the Southern California water agencies’ agreed-upon limit. One of the proposed restoration plans at the Salton Sea would cost about $9 billion. In the agreement, the mitigation water is set to stop in 2017.
The IID called on the state last year to come up with a feasible plan for restoration of the sea, and in October submitted a resolution to petition the state board to allow the change should the state not come up with a comprehensive restoration plan by 2014. According to the resolution, if that plan is not adopted by 2014, “it appears that it will be physically and financially impossible for the state to implement any meaningful Salton Sea restoration plan by 2017, the last year of IID’s mitigation water requirements.”
In order to finalize the district’s petition, new environmental work has to be done. The funding for that work is set to come from the cost-sharing agreement before the board today.
IID and San Diego County Water Authority will split a majority of the cost, with the local district picking up some additional expenditures to finalize its Habitat Conservation Plan/Natural Community Conservation Plan. The cost-sharing agreement covers new project costs of $2.4 million, according to the memo to the board.
The agreement will have to be approved by both Imperial County and San Diego county water agencies. SDCWA is set to take up the issue at its monthly meeting Thursday, said Halla Razak, Colorado River program manager for the authority.
SDCWA has also jointly submitted the petition to the state water board as the state hasn’t prepared or finalized a restoration plan and funding plan, she said. That will have an impact on mitigation measures that are taking place at the sea, so those mitigation measures need to be looked at again.
Staff Writer Elizabeth Varin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 760-337-3441.
If you go
What Imperial Irrigation District Board of Directors meeting
When 1 p.m. today
Where W.R. Condit Auditorium, 1285 Broadway, El Centro