Voice: IID water is under federal jurisdiction

May 15, 2001

To the Colorado River Board of California and others:

It was over a year ago that the California Chamber of Commerce was reported in the paper as saying: "We're going to have growth whether we have water or not."

The California Water Plan Update of 1998 estimated that the water shortage in the urban area of Southern California was 800,000 acre-feet and it would grow to 2 million acre-feet by 2020.

I asked the lady with the Department of Water Resources, who was presenting the plan, what are you doing about the growing shortage? Her answer was, "That's outside our area of responsibility."


At least DWR recognized the existing "reliable source of water" law was a failure.

Several months ago, I wrote Gov. Davis and members of the state Legislature requesting the state develop more effective legislation. I recommended it be tied to CEQA and the California Water Plan Update information with focus on the South Coastal Plain, and that the counties and cities within it be required to have an annual hearing and finding on the "reliable source of water" status. And that this finding be recognized throughout the year.

What politician wants to kick the California Chamber of Commerce and the building trade industries and unions in the shins? (I received no response.)

In spite of the Imperial Irrigation District's water transfer petition, which states IID water is under state jurisdiction, it is not true, i.e.

(1) The secretary of the Interior/Bureau of Reclamation is the river master.

(2) IID is under the Law of the River.

(3) IID's only source of water is the Colorado River.

(4) The appellate court decision on the Elmore case, as well as the SWRCB response to my protest that IID water is not under state jurisdiction were basically the same, i.e. pursuant to the California Constitution (e.g. Article III, Section 3.5), and in the absence of federal prohibition, SWRCB has the responsibility (and attending authority) to receive and hear the petition (or complaint).

(5) The difference between "responsibility and attending authority" and "jurisdiction" became abundantly clear when similar procedural "wasting water claims" by the Metropolitan Water District and the Coachella Valley Water District were filed in state and federal court, respectively. And the state and federal courts received and would have heard them.

"Having the responsibility and attending authority" does not go to the issue of authority.

The IID board has taken this matter under "advisement." (This "response" reminds me of the officer who responded to a homicide call, stood on the corpse, and asked: "What seems to be the problem?")

Fortunately, IID is government and its board members are elected by the people in the Imperial Valley.

My request is you recognize and respect that IID water is under federal jurisdiction.


El Centro

Imperial Valley Press Online Articles