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Voice: SDCWA is providing enough money for farmers to implement water savings

October 17, 2001

Don Cox recently sent two letters to the editor in which he compares the water-transfer agreement between the Imperial Irrigation District and the San Diego County Water Authority with the land fallowing agreement between the Palo Verde Irrigation District and the Metropolitan Water District.

As general manager of the SDCWA and a chief negotiator of the deal, I would like to build on Mr. Cox's comments.

Mr. Cox makes the point that he and others in the Valley who were opposed to fallowing in the past have new reasons to believe fallowing may be the best if not only way to resolve environmental issues and implement a beneficial water transfer.

We might agree. However, this is a new and different point of view than was expressed by Mr. Cox or IID during negotiations of the San Diego water-transfer agreement, when IID's negotiating position was to avoid all forms of land fallowing, including the PVID-type of land fallowing that Mr. Cox now commends.


Mr. Cox also states that in the PVID deal MWD takes care of all the environmental and third-party impact costs, but in the San Diego deal the Imperial Valley farmers get stuck with those burdens. Nothing could be further from the truth. In the current deal, IID and the participating farmers are fully protected by contractual provisions limiting liability for environmental costs. Moreover, the price of the conserved water paid for by the SDCWA — more than $50 million annually — is expressly intended to cover environmental costs, the interests of farmers and farm laborers and any and all other costs associated with third-party impacts to the community.

The problem isn't that these costs aren't covered, it is that so far no process has been established in Imperial to discuss and decide how the funds should be allocated.

For example, funds can be used for job-training and job-creating programs, education programs as well as a host of other community and economic development needs.

The SDCWA has said it before and we will said it again: it has always been and continues to be up to the Imperial Valley community, through the IID, to decide (1) whether or not any land fallowing should be part of the water-transfer program with San Diego, and (2) how the water-transfer proceeds should be allocated.

Once Imperial decides what it wants, the SDCWA is, as Mr. Cox says, "ready to go." We expect to complete a water transfer with IID and will be counting on your help to help get the job done on the best way possible for Imperial County.


General manager

San Diego County Water Authority

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