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CAC asked to let independent economist review transfer

January 24, 2002|By RUDY YNIGUEZ, Staff Writer

The Imperial Irrigation District's community advisory commission received two responses for an independent economist to review documents associated with the IID/San Diego water transfer.

One applicant is a professor of economics at the University of California, Berkeley. The other is the president of San Diego-based CIC Research Inc.

Both have extensive experience in the field of economics, according to their resumes.

The CAC decided its subcommittee should interview both applicants by conference call Saturday or Monday and make a recommendation to the full CAC Tuesday.

The economist will take an independent look at a U.S. Bureau of Reclamation report on what the economic impacts would be to the Imperial Valley from fallowing of farmland. The study also will review the economic impacts of the different methods for conserving water — including fallowing — listed in the transfer draft environmental impact report released Friday.

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In other business, CAC members were provided with certain portions of the EIR, including the executive summary, the chapter on socioeconomics and the so-called habitat conservation plan.

The report will be discussed Tuesday by the CAC.

IID Public Affairs Director Ron Hull said running comments made at CAC meetings will not be part of any comments the body chooses to submit in response to the EIR. Rather, he said, the group will have to write a composite report and a minority report and submit those.

He said interested CAC members can submit comments as individuals.

The group also discussed how the Valley might benefit economically by the transfer.

CAC member and former IID director Don Cox said the only way he sees any money getting to the community is through fallowing. He said with the low cost of fallowing there would be money available.

He said there is some question as to how much money there will be in transfer revenues to reimburse farmers for conservation measures. He also said it would be a mistake for the Valley to go into debt to the tune of $100 million with the possibility that a lawsuit could end the transfer if it is deemed too harmful to the Salton Sea environment.

A second Cox proposal was to use transfer revenues to entice dairies to locate here and that the overall economy would improve. He said a new University of California study addresses the cost of locating dairies in the Imperial Valley.

CAC member Heidi Kuhn said farmers have not talked about how much the community should get because farmers are not yet convinced there will be enough to pay for conservation.

It was also announced that Gerald Gauna, consultant for the San Diego County Water Authority, had resigned from the CAC.

Tuesday's CAC meeting begins at 6:30 p.m. and will be in the IID William R. Condit Auditorium, 1285 Broadway, El Centro.

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

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