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Our Opinion: A worthwhile discussion

April 03, 2001

On Friday a panel discussion was conducted at the Imperial Valley Expo that brought together officials from the Imperial Irrigation District, the San Diego County Water Authority and Baja California.

The event was sponsored by Imperial Valley United, a group formed to protect the Valley's water rights. IV United deserves credit for having opened a dialogue between three key players in the use of the Colorado River.

The goal of the event was to look at issues affecting all three areas in regard to water. An ideal discussed was the formation of a super water region between the Imperial Valley, San Diego and Baja California. That sounds like an interesting idea, as long as everyone's interests can be fairly addressed and no one party would be eclipsed by another.

It sounds like a lot of rhetoric to talk about a super region in which all areas work together to promote the common good. One point made during the panel discussion is there still are a number of issues that separate us. Until those issues are addressed, a super region can never become reality.

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The water transfer to San Diego is an issue that could yet prove controversial. There are those on the IID board who do not want to see the water transfer happen out of fear of what it could mean for the Valley. Then there are those who fear what it would mean if the transfer did not happen. Regardless of such arguments, there are those who fear the cost to mitigate the effects of such a transfer on the environment could prove too much.

There is ongoing debate over San Diego's study on building an aqueduct to move Imperial Valley water to the coast. The IID board has come out against such an aqueduct and it does not seem like that stance is going to change soon, despite comments by board President Andy Horne that in the future an aqueduct could be considered if it did not harm the Valley's interests.

There are issues still to be worked out with Mexico. One issue is Mexico is concerned about losing seepage from the All-American Canal should it be lined. Local officials are concerned about Mexico rerouting the New River once its wastewater facilities are running and creating much cleaner New River water.

No one would argue there are lot of issues to iron out, but some at the panel discussion said they think such issues can be addressed. That may be the case. We would only hope local officials keep in mind that while it might be worth it to look at forming a super region, San Diego has different needs and more political power than the Imperial Valley.

We must continue discussions such as the one organized by IV United, but we must move carefully when it comes to forming unions with those who want our water.

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