Supervisors delay fallowing resolution

December 05, 2001|By RUDY YNIGUEZ, Staff Writer

The county Board of Supervisors on Tuesday delayed adoption of a resolution against permanent fallowing.

The delay will allow the board to first review the environmental study of the pending Imperial Irrigation District/San Diego County Water Authority water transfer, due to be released Jan. 11.

The resolution was the idea of District 3 Supervisor Joe Maruca, who said the county must take a stand against fallowing because once allowed it cannot be stopped.

"If we compromise now, we'll be compromised to death," he said.

Maruca said he lived in the Owens Valley for 20 years and does not want the Imperial Valley to become devastated as the Owens Valley became when outside interests bought up land and its water.


He said although compensation was paid, it will do no good for future generations of Owens Valley residents.

District 4 Supervisor Gary Wyatt urged the board to wait and see what the public has to say about the draft environmental impact report/environmental impact statement being developed.

"There's other information to be gained," he said.

District 2 Supervisor Hank Kuiper said with the small population and money in the county, it is best that the Imperial Valley cooperate on a water transfer rather than possibly have water taken away.

Board Chairman Tony Tirado urged the board to wait for the environmental study.

"I'm willing to wait and see," he said, adding that he, too, fears the small size of the Valley. "The odds are against us."

District 5 Supervisor Wally Leimgruber said the Salton Sea must be saved to protect the wildlife and future economic growth but not if it involves the fallowing of 50,000 acres of farmland.

Also urging the board to wait was Imperial Irrigation District Board of Directors President Andy Horne, who said the environmental study will include the potential impacts of fallowing. He also said although the IID board took a stand against fallowing, it was not as clear as Maruca's proposal since it only opposed the fallowing of land to generate water for restoring the Salton Sea.

Further, Horne said those who think the IID/San Diego transfer is a done deal are wrong.

He said unless the transfer is environmentally sound and does not detrimentally affect the Imperial Valley community, it should not go forward.

Meanwhile, Don Cox, former IID director, said the Valley's water rights are precarious because during water shortages the governor may put the domestic use of water above agricultural and that a win-win solution might still be found.

Cox said in its present form the transfer might fail due to environmental impacts.

Horne responded by saying the Valley's water rights are much stronger than in other places in the state and that he does not believe the governor can take the Valley's water without compensation.

In the end, Maruca withdrew his motion to approve the resolution.

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

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