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Our Opinion: The water that unites us

June 21, 2001

It was 100 years ago that irrigation water flowed into the Imperial Valley for the first time, changing a desolate desert into a land where plush fields continue to feed the nation and the world. This month the Imperial Irrigation District is celebrating all that it took to build the Imperial Valley into what it is today — and it all started with water.

On Sunday in the Imperial Valley Press you will find a supplement showcasing the history of water in the Imperial Valley. That history is filled with tales of men and women who saw the potential wealth in the desert frontier and were willing to do what it took to tame the region.

You will see historic photographs that show clearly just how difficult it was to bring water to the Valley and to have that water spread throughout the area so land could be turned from sand and dirt into rich soil in which countless types of crops could be grown.

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Many of us take for granted the wonders that took place so many years ago to construct such waterways as the All-American Canal. Try to imagine building the main canal that would allow Colorado River water to flow 50 miles to Valley fields and using nothing but mule power. The canal was literally built with the blood and sweat of Valley pioneers and their animals.

As you read the supplement you will learn about the formation of IID, which was the ultimate sign of unity in the Imperial Valley regarding its water supply. Before IID there were individual water companies and that system was not working. Those who formed IID saw the need for one agency to handle all water issues.

IID's duties have grown to include supplying power. We are fortunate that we receive our power from publicly owned agency rather than from one of the investor-owned utilities now plagued by so many problems. We have among the lowest power rates in the state and that is due to the management of IID. The fact that we do not have to worry about rolling blackouts is because the district has done the job of looking out for our interests and needs.

The history of water in the Valley is something we all should take pride in and celebrate. That we have our communities and our jobs here is due to the importation of water.

It also is important to note water is not only an essential part of our past but is critical to our future. We can only hope in another 100 years we will be able to celebrate the bicentennial of water flowing into the Valley and do so surrounded by green fields fed by the water that is our lifeblood.

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