Mike King, water department manager, said various options on what to do with the water-order entry are being studied.
Meanwhile, the WCAB received a report on the fallowing plan between farmers in the Palo Verde Irrigation District and the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California. The presentation was made by PVID General Manager Ed Smith and PVID board member Charles Van Dyke.
Under the 35-year agreement — yet to be finalized — MWD would be required to take water from a minimum of 6,000 acres yearly, with a maximum of 26,500 acres in any 10 years. The deal is for a maximum of about 100,000 acre-feet yearly.
Smith pointed out MWD would likely not take any water for about 10 years because of the water available through surplus declarations of the Colorado River by the Department of the Interior for the next 15 years. The surpluses will allow MWD to keep its Colorado River aqueduct full.
At the start of the fallowing program, MWD would make a one-time payment of $3,170 per acre participating, up to a maximum of $84 million. Additionally, for each acre fallowed MWD would pay $550, plus a yearly percentage still under negotiation.
Water rights in PVID are attached to the lands and each landowner controls them. The PVID merely acts as an agent to obtain the water for the farmers. Under the fallowing program, participating farmers will still pay for the water they are not using, thus keeping the water district in business.
To address potential third-party impacts, MWD would pay $6 million — in 2001 dollars — for community improvement programs. A committee will be formed to decide how the money should be spent. It will include MWD, PVID and members of the Palo Verde community selected by the PVID.
Smith said the environmental impacts from the fallowing are expected to be negligible.
After the presentation, former IID Director Don Cox said he likes the MWD/PVID program.
He said the transfer of water from IID to the San Diego County Water Authority is expected to exacerbate the environmental problems at the Salton Sea, including a significant decrease in the water level. He also said farmers or IID will likely be in debt about $120 million by year seven of the transfer and not expected to see a positive return on their investment until about year 12.
"It seems to me what you guys are doing makes more sense economically," Cox said. "Down here we have more problems politically."
Cox said he would like people to start thinking about the possibility of land fallowing.
"The point I'm trying to make is this thing ought to be debated," he said.
Staff Writer Rudy Yniguez can be reached at 337-3440.