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CAC report: Resolve issues first

April 10, 2002|By RUDY YNIGUEZ

Staff Writer

The water transfer should go through, but there remain many issues that should be resolved first, is the message coming out of the community advisory commission after three years' work.

The CAC was created by the Imperial Irrigation District Board of Directors in late 1998 with the task of investigating the potential socioeconomic impacts, good and bad, of the transfer of water from the IID to the San Diego County Water Authority.

"There are a lot of bumps in the road," said Bill Gay, owner of El Centro-based Reliance Communications and the main wordsmith of the document. "There are a lot of issues remaining to be resolved."

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The CAC was created to assess the possible community benefits and impacts of the water transfer's conservation plan, to recommend possible community impact mitigation measures and to memorialize its work for consideration in the environmental impact report/environmental impact statement.

The CAC met Tuesday to further develop the actual language of the report that will be submitted to the IID board and as official comment for the draft EIR/EIS.

Fifteen recommendations that should be implemented before any water moves are included in the report. They say:

· Environmental justice issues need to be thoroughly evaluated and resolved. The draft report states the chapter on environmental justice in the EIR/EIS is inadequate.

· A complete scientific assessment must be conducted into the health and air-quality issues raised regarding potential exposure to some of the Salton Sea lake bed. Funding for such a study should be from sources outside the Imperial Valley.

· The IID board should develop economic and transfer plans to ensure the Valley is not just made whole but actually improves the quality of life in the region.

· It is unreasonable for local residents to risk their businesses, livelihoods or farms to transfer water to other areas; therefore, it is essential that there be indemnity against surprises resulting from claims to mitigate or pay for impacts to people, property or the environment resulting from good-faith fulfillment of our contractual obligations.

· Other parties, including the San Diego County Water Authority, Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, Coachella Valley Water District and state and federal governments, should bear the cost of mitigating any and all impacts from the transfer.

· Any monetary limitations that allow the transfer to be rejected should include moneys invested for the transfer by farmers.

· Should the transfer be terminated early, the San Diego County Water Authority should make whole local investments.

The CAC will meet again at 6 p.m. Thursday to continue refining the report.

Several so-called minority reports also were submitted.

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

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