By ANTOINE ABOU-DIWAN
9:54 PM AKST, January 23, 2013
The newly formed Imperial Irrigation District Water Conservation Committee laid out its concerns at its first meeting Wednesday and agreed to put together a water conservation proposal based on water apportionment.
Once written, the proposal will be shared with the Imperial County Farm Bureau and the Imperial Valley Vegetable Growers Association, before the Water Conservation Committee votes whether to adopt it when it meets again Feb. 6.
Committee members present included seven members of the IID’s Water Conservation Advisory Board and IID Directors Jim Hanks and Steve Benson. Hanks was appointed chairman of the meeting.
The IID is in an uncomfortable position with regard to its use of water. Although it is the largest rights-holder to the Colorado River’s water, it has water transfer obligations under the Quantification Settlement Agreement as well as two years of water overruns that it needs to pay back to the Colorado River. Additionally, the district did not sign the domestic agreements to Minute 319 when it became apparent to the Board of Directors that the IID would not benefit from any of Mexico’s surplus water that would become available as American utilities upgrade Mexico’s water infrastructure.
It’s not clear yet what the proposal will look like, but what is clear is that not everybody will be happy with everything it will contain.
“Allocation will discourage farming and it will also promote underfarming,” said committee member Tom Brundy. “You’ll just farm less … and underfarming is (that) you won’t take the crop to its full potential.”
Environmental attorney Chuck DuMars said that it is vital that the IID and its constituents make a good faith effort to conserve water because it is necessary, and because it can be used to deflect criticism from federal agencies and other stakeholders on the Colorado River. He said his law firm would draft the resolution in a way that addresses concerns raised Wednesday.
DuMars, of the Law and Resource Planning Associates, drafted an alternative proposal to the QSA, which the IID adopted.
The Water Conservation Committee is scheduled to meet again at 1:30 p.m. Feb. 6 at the Water Control Center Conference Room at the IID’s headquarters in Imperial.
Staff Writer Antoine Abou-Diwan can be reached at 760-337-3454 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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