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Voice: If everyone conserves water, everyone benefits, with no free rides

December 01, 2001

I read with interest the article on the front page of the Wednesday edition of this newspaper describing the disagreement over who should get the proceeds from water conservation for the transfer to San Diego.

On one side the farming community feels that they should receive the proceeds since they will be the ones conserving the water. On the other side, Imperial Irrigation District director Stella Mendoza feels that 25 percent of the proceeds should go to the Imperial Valley community because the water "belongs to the people."

Farmers are correct in that the people taking the financial risk and actually doing the conserving should receive the compensation. Stella Mendoza is correct in that this deal should be managed in such a way that the entire community benefits. The challenge is to make these two concepts flow together.

Farmers are members of the community. I don't believe, however that the non-agricultural sector of the community would approve of a farmer being compensated for water conservation if that farmer didn't conserve any water.


The non-ag folks should understand then why farmers aren't too excited about the community being paid for conservation if they aren't doing anything to save water. Also, we as a community have stated adamantly during discussions on fallowing that no one should receive "something for nothing."

What if the opportunity to conserve water and be fairly compensated was extended to the entire community? Municipalities could make their systems more efficient. The IID could improve its delivery system. Other businesses that use water could increase efficiency and homeowners could employ water-saving techniques.

All of these entities would be compensated directly for the water they save. The single greatest benefit would be the new jobs that would be created. The community should not underestimate the value of the jobs that a Valleywide water conservation plan would create.

The opportunity to conserve water and to be fairly compensated should be available to all members of the Imperial Valley community. If everyone participates, everyone benefits, and no one will feel that someone else is getting a free ride.



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