President-elect George W. Bush has nominated Gale Norton to be U.S. Department of Interior secretary. Imperial Irrigation District officials think she could be a good choice.
We foresee that Norton will have a bit of learning curve to get up to speed on issues critical to us, but she is from Colorado and that could help her in efforts to finalize what Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt has brokered regarding longstanding peace between western states and Colorado River water agencies. If the deals are to come to fruition, it would be during Norton's tenure.
While Norton will have much to do, we would urge her to place some early focus on the issues critical to the Colorado River. IID is trying to wrap up its agreement to ship 200,000 acre-feet per year of water to San Diego. For that to happen, IID must work out critical issues including how much mitigation U.S. Fish and Wildlife officials will require and how much all that will cost. If the cost is too high, it may be difficult if not impossible to seal the water deal.