Once portions of the All-American Canal get lined, the resultant 67,700 acre-feet will also go to MWD, of which 11,500 acre-feet go to the 1988 federal settlement with the San Luis Rey Indian Water Authority in eastern San Diego County. A further 25,300 acre-feet from the lining of the Coachella Canal will go to MWD, with about 4,500 of that to the San Luis Rey.
Coachella will pay $50 an acre-foot plus environmental costs for the first 50,000 acre-feet, with the second 50,000 at $125 plus costs, while San Diego will pay about $249 — likely less — for up to 200,000 acre-feet, while MWD will get the water from the state-paid lining of the canals at cost.
Combined, all of these transfers make up the agricultural quantification settlement and are the heart of the state's plan to reduce its draw from the Colorado River from 5.2 million acre-feet to 4.4 million during normal flow years.
Although the IID has been willing to cooperate in helping the state meet its needs for water through conservation, it now finds itself under increasing pressure to use farmland fallowing instead. It is thought that fallowing land will alleviate the impacts to the Salton Sea, which is likely true, but what happens is the impacts are shifted to the local community in the form of lost jobs and ruined businesses.
Fallowing will be the Imperial Valley's domino effect to economic ruin.
If anything good is coming from all of this, it is that the IID Board of Directors is adamantly opposed to fallowing. Unfortunately, of the two habitat conservation plans to mitigate the Salton Sea, the only remaining HCP involves fallowing. We'll have to see what happens.
On a separate issue, we're pleased to see the San Diego Union-Tribune showing renewed interest in the transfer. Of course, that interest lies only with the editorial board. On the down side is the editorials contain too many factual errors, making it impossible to reach any common sense conclusions. The Union-Tribune isn't alone in this. Other print sources do the same. We've seen poorly written stories and editorials in the Sacramento Bee, Copley News Service and other publications. (We praise Tony Perry of the Los Angeles Times, though, for his continuing high-quality work on the issue.)
We understand the issue is a complicated one and requires a fairly good knowledge of the Law of the River, the QSA documents, the IID/San Diego transfer agreement, the San Diego/MWD exchange agreement and others.
Without that background knowledge, what's the point in writing about it? We've seen what happens when the ill-informed chose to talk water.
Witness Gov. Gray Davis and Sen. Dianne Feinstein.