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IID delays aqueduct resolution

January 24, 2001|By DARREN SIMON, Staff Writer

Stating it is in the best interest of the Imperial Valley to hold off such action, the Imperial Irrigation District board voted Tuesday to delay adopting a resolution that would oppose the building of an aqueduct to carry water to San Diego.

By a unanimous vote the board approved a motion by Director Stella Mendoza to take action on the resolution within 60 days. Director Bruce Kuhn seconded the motion.

Kuhn told those gathered for the discussion his support for the delay in no way means he no longer supports such a resolution.

He and other directors said they still are opposed to any proposal to build an aqueduct to carry Colorado River to the coast. Specifically, the San Diego County Water Authority is studying the idea of transporting conserved water from the Imperial Valley.

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While the IID directors individually have stated opposition to such a plan, the board has not taken an official stand against it.

During a meeting toward the end of last year, Director Lloyd Allen asked that the board adopt a resolution against the pipeline. Since then the board has moved toward adopting such a resolution.

On Tuesday the board had a final draft of a resolution before it.

However, board members said now is not the time to take such an action.

"I think it important that the board pass a resolution of this type and that it be a 5-0 vote," Allen said, but added to do so at this time would place funding for the Imperial Valley in jeopardy.

That sentiment was echoed by other board members.

That funding, about $50 million, would go toward the building of two reservoirs in the Imperial Valley to capture surplus Colorado River water for use in times of need, such as dry seasons.

Kuhn said the state Legislature will be looking at approving that outlay as an addition to the $280 million approved for the lining of the All-American Canal.

He said the $280 million would not be enough to cover the cost of building two large reservoirs and he said those reservoirs are a critical need.

The concern he said, is squabbling between IID and SDCWA could hurt the Imperial Valley's chances of receiving the additional $50 million.

Kuhn added it is important to note it is no secret the IID directors are opposed to the aqueduct and will continue to oppose it. He said San Diego water officials know IID will oppose that proposal.

Kuhn said if San Diego does move forward on the aqueduct issue within the next 60 days, he would be ready to call a special meeting to approve the resolution.

Officials with Imperial Valley United and the El Centro Chamber of Commerce & Visitors Bureau were on hand for the discussion.

They almost lost the chance to comment when board President Andy Horne called for a vote before asking the public if anyone wished to comment. The public was allowed to speak on the issue after the board voted.

El Centro City Councilman Larry Grogan warned the directors that many people with whom they are negotiating have proven untrustworthy.

"Some individuals did everything they could to take away our water without due process," Grogan said.

Cliff Caldwell, president of the El Centro chamber, told the board chamber officials are opposed to the pipeline and they will be back when the board is ready to vote on the matter.

Director Rudy Maldonado, who has said the board needs to think about the future, adding such a resolution may not be the best move, told those gathered he would like to meet with them to discuss the issue.

He said the board and people of the Valley have to consider the ramifications that could come from adopting such a resolution.

Staff Writer Darren Simon can be reached at 337-4082.

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