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Transfer dead in water?

June 26, 2002|By RUDY YNIGUEZ

Staff Writer

Is the transfer of water from the Imperial Irrigation District to the San Diego County Water Authority a dead horse?

Consensus on the IID Board of Directors would seem to say "yes."

How it will actually be killed was discussed at Tuesday's IID board meeting.

Division 1 Director Andy Horne "strongly suggested" the board invoke language in Article 9 paragraph 9.1(e) Discretion of the IID. The language states "in the case of significant adverse impacts that cannot be reduced to a level less than significant, the IID shall have complete discretion … to approve the project."

Horne said because the transfer final environmental impact report/environmental impact statement says the environmentally superior alternative is to fallow land to generate water for transfer, and because it is known there would be economic impacts from fallowing that cannot be sufficiently mitigated, that the board should invoke the discretionary language.

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"That's what I want to do," he said after the meeting.

When Horne urged the board take such action, Division 5 Director Rudy Maldonado immediately seconded the motion, only to be told by Horne that he was not making a motion.

With Maldonado ready to support the issue, and board President Stella Mendoza voting "no" on every issue related to the transfer, it seems clear the transfer is a dead horse.

Not yet, however, according to Division 2 Director Bruce Kuhn, who equated the transfer to a horse.

"I don't think it will make it, but it is not dead," he said.

Maldonado later said the horse is dead, it has been mourned and the board is now in denial.

The next step in the transfer process is for the IID board to consider certifying the final EIR. A special board meeting has been called for 10 a.m. Friday in the William R. Condit Auditorium, 1285 Broadway, El Centro.

IID Chief Counsel John Penn Carter said the document is certified if the board thinks it has been completed in accordance with the California Environmental Quality Act.

When asked what happens if the document is not certified, Carter said it does not necessarily mean the transfer is dead. He said the board has any number of options, including changing it and certifying it at a later date.

Horne said he will support the document's certification.

He said despite fallowing being the preferred alternative and the district's request for economic help in mitigating the third-party impacts likely to occur under fallowing, no help has been offered.

Horne said fallowing "is being crammed down our throats."

Mendoza agreed. She said the transfer agreement has changed and that it is morally wrong to fallow.

The transfer agreement calls for IID to move between 130,000 and 200,000 acre-feet yearly to San Diego. Two 50,000 acre-feet transfers would go to the Coachella Valley Water District and/or the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California.

As board president she delayed further discussion until Friday.

The final EIR is available to the public at local libraries and at the IID's public affairs office in El Centro.

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

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