Board votes to pay for another environmental transfer study

September 26, 2001|By RUDY YNIGUEZ, Staff Writer

LA QUINTA — In what could be a shifting momentum against the transfer of water from the Imperial Irrigation District to the San Diego County Water Authority, the IID Board of Directors on a split vote Tuesday agreed to pay another $712,000 for environmental studies.

The vote was 3-2 to pay $500,000 to complete the study associated with the IID/San Diego transfer, and $212,000 for the district's share of the quantification settlement agreement environmental study.

Voting in favor were directors Lloyd Allen, Andy Horne and Rudy Maldonado. Voting against were Bruce Kuhn and Stella Mendoza.

Mendoza ran on a campaign against the transfer and has consistently voted against measures to forward it.

Kuhn in recent weeks has been complaining publicly of the ever-increasing costs associated with what he describes as a simple and straightforward transfer that has now become "a bucket of crap."

Overall, the transfer environmental study is expected to cost $6 million, with IID paying about $3.4 million. By the time the final decision of record is issued by the Department of the Interior, the cost will be another $475,000.


Kuhn's ire was raised when he was informed by district counsel that the Coachella Valley Water District will only pay $200,000 toward the QSA study, but only if the QSA becomes operational. Under the QSA, Coachella stands to get two allotments of 50,000 acre-feet of water at minimal cost.

"That's a hell of a way to do business," Kuhn said, adding ID should do business the way Coachella does.

District Counsel Steve Escalera said San Diego and the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California are willing to pay a share now and a share after the QSA draft environmental documents come out. He said it remains unknown when either might pay for share of the IID transfer environmental study, although San Diego has agreed to pay 35 percent of the costs and has already paid toward it.

In other business, the IID board:

· approved allowing a 30-inch wide conveyor belt to be placed across the All-American Canal to bring high-quality aggregate across the border. The request was made by John Corcoran, owner of Salton Sea Beach-based Aggregate Products Inc. The conveyor would be under closed-camera observation by U.S. Customs when not in use and would be swung to the north side of the canal as well, Corcoran said.

· approval is pending review of the agreement by IID's risk-management office.

· approved policies and procedures for authorizing major work projects, pending definition of "project."

· approved an additional $400,000 from the public benefits charge fund for energy-conservation rebates for heating, ventilation and air-conditioning projects.

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

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