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Voice: The non-transfer of water

June 12, 2002

In order for any future water transfer to take place, two things must occur or it will "never" happen. No 1. — The federal government must take over the mitigation of the Salton Sea. No. 2. — If we have to fallow 3 acre-feet, someone must pay for the third foot.

Let me explain No. 2. It now appears everyone in the world wants the Imperial Irrigation District to fallow. San Diego does, but is only willing to pay for the water they receive, i.e. the first 2 acre-feet. If we fallow 3 feet, 1 of those feet must flow to the Salton Sea so it does not lower. Currently no one wants to pay for that additional foot, hence there will be no transfer.

The IID board has known for about one year that the current water transfer, as now structured, will never occur. But yet they have spent millions of dollars needlessly that belonged to approximately 250 farmers. Why? In my opinion they have no backbone to say "no," and "enough is enough." It appears they want to spend the $15 million on environmental work because "it's" not their money and they feel since the current agreement says they must, that they will.

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The board is now considering rewriting an environmental impact report that will cost in excess of $200,000 solely because the government wants it to. They must now tell the rest of the world that we are not going to throw any more money at a hopeless situation. What they need to tell everyone who wants us to transfer water or fallow is "you guys" come up with something that is acceptable to all parties and then come talk to us, because we are not spending one more dime. If you don't like it, let's go to court. You are bankrupting our farmers.

In all aspects of the transfer $25 million to $50 million have been spent in the last six years alone. That averages $100,000 per farmer. What do they have to show for that money? Not a damn thing. And the community wants something out of this transfer. They can get $1 million a year, but can't receive that money until the farmers have been repaid. If it takes 50 years, so be it.

It is now more important than ever for the IID to show courage and do what is good for the farmers, because what is good for them is good for the Valley. Besides there are civil laws that demand they do the correct thing or be held personally responsible for the money.

The Department of the Interior is way off base about the meaning of beneficial use. They are trying to equate that the water could be better beneficially used in San Diego or elsewhere rather than to travel into our drain ditches, which appears to be wasteful.

No. 1, the Colorado River Compact never mentioned beneficial use. It stated "beneficial consumptive use," and that has nothing to do with what we understand as beneficial use. Blythe has beneficial consumptive use because all of the water they take from the Colorado and not used is "returned" to the river. We are the last users on the river and cannot currently return that unused water. We could if forced.

No. 2, our wastewater fuels the Salton Sea. Does the Department of the Interior want us to return the water to the river or let it go to the sea? Let everyone continue to threaten us. It "should" fall on deaf ears.

DAVID CASON

El Centro

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