Calexico prepares to consider resolution opposing fallowing

November 25, 2001|By AARON CLAVERIE, Staff Writer

CALEXICO — On the heels of resolutions by the Imperial Irrigation District board and the city of Imperial, the City Council here will consider a resolution to oppose fallowing of agricultural land to support saving the Salton Sea.

Calexico City Councilman Gilbert Grijalva — the lone councilman who voted to enact the resolution at Tuesday's meeting — was asked if the resolution has teeth or is just ceremonial.

"I think it is a bit of both," he said.

Reached at home Friday, he said, "As our city continues to grow here and attract industrial, high-end water users, we need to make sure the resources aren't gone."

Asked if the city should wait until more studies are conducted regarding the potential for positive impacts of fallowing, Grijalva said, "Politically I should wait, but my gut tells me to be proactive instead of cooling our heels.


"My own view is that pretty soon the water is not going to be as abundant and we don't know what the impacts of fallowing are going to be."

On Tuesday the council was set to vote on a resolution written by City Attorney Michael Rood when Heber-area farmer Steve Scaroni took to the council podium and asked for the council to postpone its vote.

He said the council should hold off because the issue is complex. He said there were upcoming studies that would illustrate the positive impacts of fallowing for the Imperial Valley.

By a 3-1 vote the council postponed a decision on the resolution with Grijalva dissenting.

The council decided to vote on the resolution after it hears a presentation by an IID board member opposed to fallowing.

The resolution the council will vote on states: "1. City of Calexico affirms its commitment to the reclamation of the Salton Sea but opposes fallowing of agricultural land in Imperial Valley for the purposes of such reclamation.

"2. City of Calexico respectfully requests that the county of Imperial and other local agencies join with the IID and the city of Calexico in opposing fallowing of Imperial Valley farmland for purposes of reclamation of the Salton Sea."

Meanwhile, Tom Kirk, the executive director of the Salton Sea Authority, has been all over the county pushing fallowing as one of the only viable alternatives available to mitigate the impacts on the Salton Sea that could result from the upcoming transfer of IID water to the San Diego Metropolitan Water Authority.

Kirk's basic contention is that on-farm water-conservation methods to provide the water for the transfer to San Diego will deplete the inflow to the sea.

The example he used: fallowing six of 24 acres of farmland is more attractive than installing conservation methods on all 24 acres because the sea would get more water from 18 farmed acres than it would from 24 acres farmed with conservation methods.

While following this example would send more water to the sea, Kirk concedes that fallowing would cost people their jobs.

Lately, he has countered that fact with statistics that he says show how laid-off workers could be eligible for job training or other benefits that would more than mitigate their inconvenience.

>> Staff Writer Aaron Claverie can be reached at 337-3419 or

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