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August 24, 2001|By RUDY YNIGUEZ, Staff Writer

The state Legislature will conduct a joint hearing on the status of Colorado River issues and to find out if the south state's water agencies need any help in completing details of the so-called quantification settlement agreement and interim surplus criteria milestones.

The hearing is between the state Senate Agriculture and Water Resources Committee and the Assembly Water, Parks and Wildlife Committee. The hearing is set for 10 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Aug. 31 in the headquarters building of the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, 700 N. Alameda St., Los Angeles.

The topics include the Colorado River's future under interim surplus criteria, the quantification settlement agreement and achieving interim surplus criteria milestones.

Interim surplus criteria will be addressed by an official of the Department of the Interior.

The other topics will be discussed by John Penn Carter, chief counsel for the Imperial Irrigation District; Tom Levy, general manager/chief engineer for the Coachella Valley Water District; Maureen Stapleton, general manager for the San Diego County Water Authority; and Dennis Underwood, vice president for Colorado River resources for the MWD.

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Interim surplus criteria allows California to withdraw more than its legal apportionment of 4.4 million acre-feet yearly of Colorado River water for the next 15 years. During that time, the state is expected to meet certain milestones to wean itself from the excess water or face a cutoff of the surplus.

The surplus agreement was signed by the seven Colorado River basin states: Arizona, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah, Wyoming and California, and the Department of the Interior.

The quantification settlement agreement includes a number of projects. They are:

· the 1998 Imperial Irrigation District/San Diego County Water Authority conserved water agreement for up to 300,000 acre-feet yearly

· the lining of the All-American Canal for 67,700 acre-feet

· the lining of the Coachella Canal for 26,000 acre-feet yearly

· two transfers of up to 50,000 acre-feet yearly to the Coachella Valley Water District from IID

· an extension of the 35,000 acre-foot CVWD/MWD/State Water Project/Colorado River water exchange

· an extension of the 1988, 110,000 acre-foot IID/MWD conservation agreement

· an extension of the 1989, 20,000 acre-foot IID/CVWD/MWD/Palo Verde Irrigation District approval agreement

· voluntary Colorado River diversion caps by IID of 3.1 million acre-feet and CVWD of 330,000 acre-feet

· the sharing of so-called miscellaneous and Indian present perfected rights obligations. One of the Indian settlements is for 16,000 acre-feet yearly to the San Luis Rey Indians in northern San Diego County.

The agreement is among the IID, CVWD, MWD, Interior and the state of California.

Staff Writer Rudy Yniguez can be reached at 337-3440.

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