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Voice: Painting ourselves into a corner

July 13, 2001

As the San Diego water transfer develops, it appears that the IID is painting itself into a corner, and the lawyers seem to be doing most of the painting. As the EIR information leaks out, the options for transferring water are coming into focus.

It looks like we are going to be left with choices that most people are not going to like. One is to do nothing. The second is to do the on-farm conservation. The third is to idle some farm ground and transfer the saved water.

If the do-nothing option is exercised, we would not transfer water to the coast. The state plan to keep the 17 million people on the coast from running short of water would be disabled and the IID would be faced with some very rough water rights problems.

The on-farm conservation option is the road we are headed down. This would be easy on the local economy, but it would shrink the Sea substantially and make it almost impossible to save. It would make saving the sea very expensive and could trap us into some huge environmental lawsuits that could test our farm community's solvency.

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The third option is to idle some ground and transfer that water. That would offer the least risky way to go. It would be environmentally easy on the Salton Sea and it would substantially cheapen the cost of saving it. However, it would cause some damage to the valley's economy and it is not popular with the voters. There are some, however, who think there is enough money in the San Diego transfer to take care of all of the parties.

The sad thing is that the transfer issue is the hands of so few people, and they are being very secretive about what they are doing. The process needs to be opened up if it is to succeed.

DON COX

Brawley

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