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Independent review of water transfer impacts appears useless

February 13, 2002|By RUDY YNIGUEZ, Staff Writer

Exactly what the results might be of an independent economist's review of the economic impacts of the Imperial Irrigation District/San Diego County Water Authority water transfer remains unknown.

What is becoming clear, according to subcommittee members of the IID's community advisory commission, is the review will not provide new data in place of those in the studies under review and there will likely be a recommendation that the IID Board of Directors commission a new study to produce new data.

CAC member Don Cox said the independent review is not likely to result in anything more than identifying flaws in the methodology used to conduct the transfer studies.

"They're going to recommend another study," he said at Tuesday's CAC meeting, adding if the CAC wants to know the true cost of fallowing, for example, another study will be needed.


Bill Gay, an El Centro-based consultant retained by IID, said the independent review will likely result in a series of questions the IID board should ask about the studies.

The studies to be reviewed include the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation report on the economic impacts of fallowing and the economic impacts of the different methods for conserving water — including fallowing — listed in the transfer draft environmental impact report.

The CAC, with IID board approval, retained San Diego-based CIC Research Inc. to carry out the $20,000 study. In addition to reviewing both reports, CIC President Gordon H. Kubota reportedly offered to appear twice before the CAC and make a third appearance before the IID Board of Directors if needed.

Another issue becoming more and more relevant is the role of environmental justice.

Gay said when land uses are changed, such as from the fallowing of farmland or the effect on local lands from the shrinkage of the Salton Sea due to the transfer, that environmental justice becomes an issue.

Environmental justice is defined by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency as "the fair treatment and meaningful involvement of all people regardless of race, color, national origin or income with respect to the development, implementation, and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations and policies," according to information handed out at the meeting.

How the issue might be addressed in terms of the transfer remains unknown.

Meanwhile, IID will have three public workshops where the consultant who wrote the transfer draft environmental impact report will explain it and take questions.

All three will be Feb. 28. The workshops will be at 10 a.m. at the Stockmen's Club of Imperial Valley in Brawley, at 3 p.m. at Calexico City Hall and at 6 p.m. at the IID William R. Condit Auditorium in El Centro.

The workshops are not for people to give formal comments on the draft EIR for purposes of being addressed in the final EIR. Those comments will be taken at a series of public hearings in early April.

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

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