Independent fallowing study approved by CAC

November 28, 2001|By RUDY YNIGUEZ, Staff Writer

The first steps toward approval of an independent study of the economic impacts of fallowing and the water-conservation alternatives in the draft environmental study for the pending water transfer was approved Wednesday.

The action came on a unanimous vote by the Imperial Irrigation District's community advisory commission at the urging of district officials. The group settled on seven people to develop a request for qualifications and scope of work.

The study will take an independent look at a U.S. Bureau of Reclamation report on what the economic impacts would be to the Imperial Valley from fallowing. The study will review the economic impacts of the different methods for conserving water — including fallowing — that will be listed in the IID/San Diego County Water Authority draft environmental impact report/environmental impact statement due out in January.

To do so, however, the CAC and IID board must act quickly because once the draft EIR/EIS is released, there likely will only be 90 days to comment on it.


Several CAC members expressed concern about the tight schedule. They also said they were concerned because economic data used by the environmental study consultant was already too old when the draft EIR/EIS was begun. They said the independent study should use current data.

Ike Adams said the study must be done by an economist who is familiar with the Imperial Valley, knows agriculture and can tell the difference between a cow and a pig.

John Anderson said the CAC, which for many months had asked for just such a study, should take advantage of the opportunity, but to do so, quick action should be taken.

After approving the concept, a number of members volunteered to form a committee to develop the scope of work and a request for qualifications. The group of seven includes Anderson, Dilda McFadden, Jim Duggins, Vince Long, and as-yet unnamed members from the Imperial County Joint Chambers of Commerce, the IID board and the county Board of Supervisors.

The written proposal for the independent study says the "economist would be enlisted to evaluate the studies and develop independent conclusions regarding validity of both reports, including fallowing options. … It is extremely important that whatever economist is selected have credibility with the various community interest groups that would be impacted by the water transfer."

Final authorization for the study, and payment, will be up to the IID board.

In other business, the CAC was given a presentation on the potential for further growth of the geothermal industry in the county.

Vince Signorotti, CalEnergy Operating Corp. manager of real estate assets, said the Imperial Valley has the most geothermal reserves in the state and the potential for as much as 1,000 to 1,200 megawatts of additional electrical generation, without taking into account other areas in the county beyond CalEnergy's holding.

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

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