Water agencies withdraw protests

January 12, 2002|By RUDY YNIGUEZ, Staff Writer

Protests filed by two Southern California water agencies against the transfer of water from the Imperial Valley to San Diego were withdrawn earlier this week.

The two agencies are the Coachella Valley Water District and the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California. The protests were in response to a petition submitted to the state Water Resources Control Board seeking approval of the transfer.

The transfer petition was submitted by the Imperial Irrigation District and the San Diego County Water Authority.

There are certain public processes that must be carried out before the state board may approve the transfer, including a public hearing.

IID Division 1 Director Andy Horne said the two agencies agreed to withdraw the protests in light of the cooperative efforts toward solving the state's water problems, but that they will retain the right to file the objections again.


Horne said the protests will likely be refiled if the so-called quantification settlement agreement does not come to fruition as expected, by the end of the year.

Formal adoption of the QSA will allow the state 15 years to reduce its Colorado River draw from 5.2 million acre-feet yearly to its legal apportionment under normal flow conditions of 4.4 million acre-feet.

The deadline for submitting transfer petition protests was Sept. 22, 1999. Other respondents included Imperial County, the Municipal Water District of Orange County, the Coastal Municipal Water District, Western Farms, the Riverside County Farm Bureau, the Fort Mojave Indian Tribe and several local residents.

CVWD submitted its protest on 11 grounds, including that the state water board lacks jurisdiction over the matters raised in the petition because state law has been pre-empted by federal law; that the state board has no authority to make the findings sought by the petitioners; that the state board lacks authority to change IID's point of diversion, place of use or purpose of use; that the state board actions sought in the petition would result in injury to Coachella; and that the state board does not have authority under §1011-1012 of the state Water Code to approve the transfer.

MWD's protest states it has concerns related to environmental and other issues. MWD argued that any water transferred to San Diego must be the result of conserving water that has been put to reasonable and beneficial use, and that the petition raises new issues that have never before been addressed by the state board.

"MWD believes that the IID conservation program for the benefit of SDCWA can be accomplished in a manner that is both consistent with the federal ‘law of the river' and advances the state's policy of encouraging conservation by agricultural entities for the benefit of urban areas," MWD's petition states.

MWD also argued that any water transferred to San Diego must not retain the same priority as if used in the Imperial Valley.

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

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