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Lifelines to cost more, IID board told

March 27, 2001|By DARREN SIMON, Staff Writer

The project to place lifelines across the All-American Canal will likely cost more than estimated, according to Imperial Irrigation District staffers.

During a brief report to the board Monday, staffers said the $92,000 awarded by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation will not be enough to cover project costs.

IID directors said if necessary the board will go back to the agency for more money.

The district is going to move ahead with a study to determine how to place the lifelines across the canal.

A safety consultant has been hired and is expected to spend two days working in the Imperial Valley to study the lifeline issue starting Monday. That consultant will draft a report to guide the work on the lifelines.

The placing of the lifelines across the canal was pushed by San Diego-area resident John Hunter, a brother of Congressman Duncan Hunter.


During several IID meetings, Hunter lobbied for the board to set up the lifelines, stating it is a way of preventing deaths of undocumented immigrants in the canal.

The board approved the lifelines but set several conditions before the lifelines could become a reality.

One condition was that Hunter provide insurance for the lines. Hunter, who was not at Monday's meeting, has said he has obtained the insurance.

Another condition was that a consultant be hired to review the best way to put in the lines, which are expected to be placed at one-mile intervals across the 80-mile stretch of the canal.

IID staffers said estimates by Hunter as to how much the lifelines cost likely will fall short.

They said Hunter's estimates did not include the cost of anchoring the lines, which could be an expensive part of the project.

They said Hunter included in his cost estimate a volunteer workforce to put in the lines. IID officials said they will not allow volunteer workers to do the work. They said crews will likely have to be brought in and will have to be paid prevailing wages since putting in the lines would be considered a government-related project.

IID directors said the district is under no obligation to make up the difference of any cost that goes above the $92,000 awarded for the project.

Board members still voiced their support for the lifeline project.

The board approved the lifeline project by a 4-1 vote. Lloyd Allen cast the dissenting vote. Allen has said he is concerned the lines will create a pathway for illegal immigration and other illegal activity.

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

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