ALL-AMERICAN: There's cash, but not enough

March 19, 2001|By DARREN SIMON, Staff Writer

Imperial Irrigation District officials have learned earlier reports from the state that more than $200 million set aside to line the All-American Canal had been spent to solve the energy crisis were incorrect.

IID Executive Officer Brad Luckey said this morning the state Department of Finance has notified the district the state spent $97 million of the canal-lining funds.

Still, without the full funding there is no way to do the canal-lining project, which is a key component of IID's planned transfer of water to San Diego.

"It's still bad," Luckey said. "We cannot do the project."

Luckey, who spent three days in Sacramento last week monitoring the movement of water and power issues, said there is no legislation pending to return the canal funding.


He added most discussion at the state level is focused on solving the power crisis. He said even water discussions drift toward concern over the state's power needs.

"It has absolutely got them consumed," Luckey said.

Luckey said IID has to push for a commitment from the state that the funding will be returned.

"There is no guarantee that the money will come back," he said, adding, "We've got to get the commitment."

In 1998 the state Legislature set aside more than $200 million to line the All-American Canal.

The project is a critical part of several water agreements, including the San Diego County Water Authority-IID water transfer.

The lining of the canal is one of the ways in which the district would conserve water for the San Diego transfer.

The canal lining is cited in the quantification settlement agreement between IID, the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California and the Coachella Valley Water Authority.

The lining is part of the overall California Colorado River Use Plan in which the state would reduce its use of the Colorado River to 4.4 million acre-feet per year.

IID Director Bruce Kuhn said without full funding for the canal lining, "We have nothing."

Luckey added another consideration is that IID was pursuing an additional $50 million to build two reservoirs along the All-American to stabilize the water flowing through the canal after it is lined.

He said there now is little discussion on that additional funding.

IID board President Andy Horne said he is concerned the state is continuing to spend money in response to the power crisis and whatever funds remain for the canal lining could be spent before the summer.

"I don't have any confidence that money will be there," Horne said, adding, "The question is, how will that money be put back?"

Horne added, "I would remain optimistic, but I will be more comfortable when that money is back."

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

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