The sins of the past are coming back to haunt the Imperial Irrigation District board.
In 1998 the IID board majority, for reasons known only to individual members, rushed into signing an agreement with the San Diego County Water Authority to send 200,000 acre-feet of Imperial County water each year to San Diego. Details such as doing environmental impact reports and other seemingly requisite studies were pushed to the background in the interest of haste.
Essentially, what the signing meant is instead of first finding out how such an agreement would affect the environment, then considering an agreement with actual evidence in hand, the IID board signed up the Imperial Valley for a massive water transfer, then started looking at the environmental and other ramifications. That is a mode of operation often referred to in rougher circles "bass ackwards."
One of the rushed details included in the agreement was that IID could pull out of the pact if environmental costs from the transfer, most of which are connected to the transfers effects on the Salton Sea, were expected to exceed $15 million. If that seems a fairly random number, it probably was. The fact that the federal legislation would allocate $60 million for Salton Sea environmental issues connected to the transfer shows just how random, and low, that $15 million figure likely was. (The IID board, by the way, is backing the legislation for the $60 million.)