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Lifelines across All-American Canal could reach $222,000

April 11, 2001|By DARREN SIMON, Staff Writer

The cost to place lifelines across the All-American Canal could reach nearly $222,000, according to estimates presented to the Imperial Irrigation District directors Tuesday.

The district is going to have to bring an environmental historian to review areas where the lines will be placed, a move that came as a surprise to the board.

The details on the project were presented to the board by Tom King, IID general services manager.

King laid out cost estimates and a timeline that could have construction on the lines start in June.

However, that timeline depends on a number of factors, including whether the board can find money to cover the rising cost of the project.

The lifeline idea was proposed by San Diego-area resident John Hunter, who for months lobbied the board to approve the project to lessen drownings.

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After months of discussion, the board approved the project but set conditions before the lines can be placed in the canal.

One condition was that Hunter, a brother of Congressman Duncan Hunter, was to provide insurance for the lifelines.

On Tuesday, Hunter, who at a recent Project for Immigrant Lives meeting blasted the board for not moving quickly enough on the project, said he is ready to purchase insurance and is waiting for the board to give him the word to do so.

Hunter, who toned down his criticism of the board during Tuesday's meeting, still said the board is spending too much time and money on studies for work he could do for much less.

Hunter credited the board for its continued interest in the project and said he is pleased to see some steps are being taken.

Board members asked staff if the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, which has awarded IID $93,000 for the project, has more funding available. Staffers said the bureau does not, but said during next year's budget more money could be awarded.

Board President Andy Horne said if the bureau could promise reimbursement in next year's budget, the board could look at spending IID funds initially to cover the costs.

No action was taken on that issue.

King said he will use the $93,000 to bring in the environmental historian within the next two weeks. That money also will go toward a safety consultant who already has reviewed the areas where the lines would be placed and is drafting a report.

The idea calls for placing lifeline cables at mile intervals throughout the 80-mile expanse of the canal to lessen drownings of undocumented immigrants.

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

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