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Board OKs $300,000 for water transfer environmental process

August 08, 2001|By KELLY GRANT, Staff Writer

The Imperial Irrigation District Board of Directors approved spending an additional $300,000 on the San Diego water transfer environmental process, a reduction from the $800,000 staff recommended.

Some directors hope the limited amount will induce other agencies involved in the transfer to share the financial burden of the water conservation and transfer project costs.

The project's first phase, completed in 1999, cost $387,131. In August 2000, the board approved spending $5.2 million to complete the next four phases and reached an agreement in which the San Diego County Water Authority would reimburse IID for 35 percent of the cost.

As details of the Colorado River Quantification Settlement Agreement became clearer since August 2000, their impact on the transfer's environmental process caused costs to rise again. IID staff projected $6 million, not $5.2 million, would be needed to complete the project's environmental documents.

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IID directors expressed displeasure at Tuesday's meeting with the situation.

"This thing has changed so much it's not the same animal it started out as. This thing is a damn demon," said Director Bruce Kuhn.

Kuhn explained that having put so much money and time into the project already, he didn't want to see it die but was only willing to allocate just enough money to keep it going.

IID Principal Engineer Elston Grubaugh told the board $300,000 would be enough to keep IID's consultants working on the project through September.

Director Rudy Maldonado made a motion to spend $300,000. It was seconded by Director Lloyd Allen.

Director Stella Mendoza cast the sole dissenting vote on the motion.

In other business, the board voted to not absorb any of the costs associated with relocating two power poles from the proposed site of the Boys and Girls Club of Coachella Valley's new facility.

The club asked IID to absorb the full $342,436.69 to relocate the poles. IID staff recommended the board approve absorbing half the price.

Allen told the board he could remember only one time in his tenure as a director when a group from the Coachella Valley asked IID for financial assistance. He also pointed out that Coachella Valley residents don't vote for IID directors.

"Coachella contributes considerable money to the power department," Allen said as he made a motion to approve covering half the expense.

Despite the support of Maldonado, the motion failed on a 2-3 vote. Mendoza and Kuhn said they did not want to make a gift of public money.

"Our responsibility is to provide power and water," Mendoza said.

Director Andy Horne said that with the exception of IID's donation to Pioneers' Museum, for which IID received exhibit space, he didn't think there was a precedent for an expenditure of such a size.

The board voted unanimously to adopt an open access transmission tariff that would establish rates and protocols for allowing other agencies to transmit power over IID's system.

The board unanimously approved a resolution supporting the efforts of local farmers and growers in the co-generation of ethanol and power from biomass.

Staff Writer Kelly Grant can be reached at 337-3441.

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