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E.C. council votes against fallowing farmland

December 06, 2001

farmland

By RUDY YNIGUEZ, Staff Writer

The El Centro City Council unanimously approved a resolution against the fallowing of farmland for the purpose of providing the water to help restore the Salton Sea.

The action came at Wednesday's meeting and upon request of the Imperial Irrigation District Board of Directors.

IID Division 2 Director Bruce Kuhn briefly explained what he thinks would be the consequences of fallowing as much as 70,000 acres, how fallowing for the sea is totally unrelated to the pending transfer of conserved water from IID to the San Diego County Water Authority and that fallowing is prohibited in the transfer contract with San Diego.

Kuhn said there have been recent moves by the state and federal governments to force fallowing on IID, and if the environmental costs of the transfer are so high that IID board cancels the transfer, there will be "tremendous pressure" to fallow. He said under such conditions, and if ordered by state or federal authorities to do so, IID will have to consider fallowing. He said the IID would not be able to resist such pressures if the transfer is canceled.

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Kuhn criticized the recently completed U.S. Bureau of Reclamation economic impact study of fallowing in the Imperial Valley. He said the data in the study are "grossly understated."

El Centro joins other local government boards in opposition to fallowing to save the sea.

In other action byEl Centro City Council Wednesday:

· on a split vote, sent back a modified compensation package offer to the city clerk for consideration. The council voted to remove a $200 monthly vehicle allowance. Voting to send it back were council members Ray Castillo, Larry Grogan and Cheryl Walker. Opposed were councilmen Jack Dunnam and Jack Terrazas. City Clerk Rita Noden, an elected official, did not attend the meeting.

Under the proposal, the pay would increase by 3.5 percent effective Aug. 1, 2001, and 4 percent effective Aug. 1, 2002. The base salary is $5,529 monthly.

· held a public hearing on how to spend a state law enforcement grant of $100,000. The money will be spent on police officer pay, equipment and transportation.

· held a public hearing and approved the installation of a 150-foot tall telecommunication tower near the intersection of La Brucherie Road and Adams Avenue.

· approved a three-year extension for solid waste collection to Valley Environmental Services Inc. The approval includes the possibility of another three-year extension. The company must continue to meet certain city requirements.

· approved a $30,000 per year household hazardous waste disposal contract with Camarillo-based MSE Environmental for two years on behalf of the Imperial Valley Waste Management Task Force. The city of El Centro is the task force's administrator.

· accepted a report on the condition of the city's water treatment, sewer and water systems. The report says the city needs $8.77 million in upgrades and repairs during the next five years. City staff was directed to bring to the council in January a new water and wastewater rate plan and revenue program to fund necessary operations, maintenance and capital improvements. During the next 20 years the city foresees expenses of $11.36 million for water system capital improvements, and $4 million for the wastewater system.

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

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