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Voice: Who owns the water?

January 15, 2002

People who live in the Imperial and Coachella Valley, the farmers say they own the water.

That is wrong. The landowners have water rights. That means they own the surface water or underground of their property. They do not have any rights to the water that the Imperial Irrigation District sells them.

The point is if the farmers own X amount of water, then why do they have to order water from the IID and why can't they just open the gate and take the water that they own?

They don't have any rights as far as the district to the water. Since the IID is owned by the people of the Imperial and Coachella valleys, they are the ones who own the water.

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Nowhere do I find any reference to farmers owning the water that is allotted to the water district. This the way I think it works the Bureau of Reclamation by law owns the water of the Colorado River. The bureau by law allocates a certain amount of water to the states adjoining the river. California, Arizona, Nevada, etc. are by law allotted X number of acre-feet. So the state of California owns the water allotted.

I am not sure how it is transferred to the water districts. I think the allotted water is sold by the state to water districts like the IID, who in turn sell it to the consumer. Nowhere does the farmer own this water until he buys it from the IID. Here again is another case of the county supervisor and the IID board trying to slip it to the non-farmers again (the public).

As far as fallowing, the farmers should not be paid by the district. A lot of this land is marginal and shouldn't be farmed in the first place. The only way that it is farmed is because of huge quantity of water available.

This November it is time to vote in non-farmers in the IID directors and the county Board of Supervisors. When this happens the Imperial Valley will grow and become more productive. Until that time the farmers will continue to fight any industry or business that wants to come to Imperial Valley.

An example is Holtville. Just drive down Main Street and see what farmers can do for a city.

PHILIP RICKER

Holtville

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