Voice: Don't punish farmers who have conserved water

January 05, 2002

Soon the Imperial Irrigation District board is going to be voting on a final plan to generate water for the San Diego transfer.

The plan they are working on would allocate water to fields based on past usage. This would determine the amount of water that a farm can use for next 45 years.

This may seem OK, but if you understand farm water, the plan is neither fair nor equitable and it will really cause a great deal of pain to a lot of people who are farming.

Some farms will end up with a lot of water and some will end up short, and you certainly cannot farm here in the desert unless you have enough water. The plan will reward those who were sloppy with their water and penalize those who were careful.


The district worked on the farmers for years to use less water. The Salton Sea was rising, IID was spending millions of dollars building levees and paying off flooding claims. The state of California ordered IID to use less water, and the Bureau of Reclamation threatened them with sanctions for using too much water.

There was a lot of pressure on IID to become more efficient. The district went to the farmers and pleaded with them to become more efficient. They even set up a water conservation department.

Some farmers worked hard to use less water and some didn't. Now the district is close to approving a program that will punish those who cooperated and used less water and reward those who used more water and didn't cooperate.

I think this is just awful. There are several programs that would be much fairer and more equitable than the one they are looking at.



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