Our Opinion: A water JPA?

November 30, 2001

The Calexico City Council is going to consider its role in forming a joint powers authority to consider the water issues that affect that city and the Imperial Valley. It is an idea proposed by a top official with the state Regional Water Quality Control Board.

It is an interesting proposal, one that deserves exploring, but we have some concerns that we hope will be addressed before any action is taken.

The idea was proposed by Phil Gruenberg, executive officer of the water board. According to Gruenberg, such a joint powers authority could include members from eight other "lead agencies" such as the Salton Sea Authority, the Imperial Irrigation District and county representatives. Gruenberg reportedly will be making his way to other governmental bodies in the Imperial and Coachella valleys suggesting the joint powers idea.

It is an interesting idea because, as Gruenberg said, it could give local authorities a stronger lobbying voice at both the state and federal levels. It could give those involved in such an authority more leverage in seeking funds for issues such as the cleanup of the New River, one of the dirtiest waterways in the nation.


The concern is that the idea is vague. We would like to see the complete set of rules that would govern such an authority before government agencies are asked to approve their involvement

What would be the purpose of the authority? What power would the authority have? How would the authority go about maintaining equality among its members?

Gruenberg talked of fallowing farmland to transfer water, which is an issue that is always a point of concern in the Imperial Valley. Is he suggesting the joint powers authority be formed to consider of even push for some kind of fallowing?

It is dangerous to act on any such idea without more formal information. We could support a joint powers authority — one with a defined purpose to benefit the Imperial Valley and its neighbors.

We look forward to continued discussions on the matter. We would like to see all government agencies interested in such an authority conduct workshops to openly discuss it and allow the public to be a part of the discussions. Through such discussions, more specific plans could be formulated.

Then, action could be taken. Let's not rush this decision. Let's think it through clearly and make sure we understand the goals.

Then local governments can make the right choice — the choice that would protect the water interests of the Imperial Valley.

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