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Our Opinion: Right on report

April 12, 2002

A community advisory committee to the Imperial Irrigation District reported this week that issues need to be resolved before the transfer of water to San Diego from Imperial County can go forward.

As your typical teen-ager might say, "Duh!"

We don't mean that as a slap at the CAC. The group took its task seriously. It was charged with advising the IID board on the socioeconomic impacts of the pending transfer of water from Imperial County to San Diego. A diverse group of people met regularly, considered community input, worked hard and did what it was tasked with doing.

And its overall conclusion is the same one we and others (including some CAC members, speaking off the record) have been saying for years: this thing is far from ready to go.

The CAC made 15 recommendations to the IID board in its report, which will be submitted to the IID board and as an official comment for the transfer's environmental impact report/environmental impact statement.

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Among those recommendations:

l Environmental justice issues need to be thoroughly evaluated and resolved and the chapter on environmental justice in the EIR/EIS is inadequate.

l A complete scientific assessment must be conducted into the health and air-quality issues raised regarding potential exposure to areas of the Salton Sea lake bed, and money for those studies should come from elsewhere.

l The IID board should assure that not only is the Imperial Valley "made whole" by any transfer but that the quality of life in the Valley actually will improve.

l It is unreasonable for local people to risk their businesses, livelihoods or farms as a result of the transfer.

l Other parties, including the San Diego County Water Authority and various other water agencies and governmental bodies, should help pay for mitigation from the transfer.

l If the transfer is rejected, farmers who have invested in measures to participate in the transfer should be compensated, and if the transfer is terminated early, the SDCWA should repay those who invested in it in any way.

We agree with each and every one of these recommendations. No matter the pressure, IID officials should not go forward with a transfer that will hurt any of us, economically, environmentally, even spiritually.

If we can't get such an agreement, we should do what was recommended by CAC member Ike Adams, who filed a minority report with the CAC report. Adams recommended there be no transfer.

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