Voice: Palo Verde water transfer may be a model for Imperial Valley

September 11, 2001

Several months ago the Palo Verde Irrigation District put an agreement together to transfer up to a 110,000 acre-feet of water to Metropolitan Water District. This was done in a matter of weeks with almost no cost and no lawyers. The Imperial Irrigation District has spent three years and about $20 million trying to put together a deal with San Diego for 200,000 acre-feet that I think is doomed.

I think the Salton Sea will dictate what we do. I don't think it will give us a choice. If we do the conservation called for in the San Diego deal, it is going to reduce the flow to the sea and shrink it so much that it won't be practical to save it.

Because it has become part of the Pacific Flyway and supports so much wildlife, the environmentalists and the government aren't going to let it die. The only way to save the sea and transfer water that makes sense is to idle some ground. That's what Palo Verde has chosen to do, even though they don't have a Salton Sea to challenge them.


In their deal, MWD takes care of the all the environmental and third-party impact costs. In the San Diego deal our farmers will get stuck with those burdens.

If we have a PVID type deal, the buyer of the water would take care of the impacts to the community. Businesses like dairies or an ethanol facility could be lured here with subsidies from the buyer. This could create a lot more jobs and economic activity than would be lost by idling some Bermuda grass or alfalfa. Those kind of crops have very little labor.

I think that to get the community to go along, the program would have be set up for 100,000 acre-feet per year for just two or three years until we see how it works.

The day will come when our farmers have to vote on the San Diego transfer. I believe they will have to vote it down as it is written.

If it fails, I think that it is important to have another transfer program ready to go.



Imperial Valley Press Online Articles