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Our Opinion: Don't hide the truth

June 26, 2002

The San Diego County Water Authority had a private firm conduct a secretive survey in the Imperial Valley, asking local people their opinions on the proposed water transfer between SDCWA and the Imperial Irrigation District.

The coastal water agency has every right to do whatever survey it wants wherever it wants. We have no problem with that. What we do have a problem with is SDCWA officials saying the survey must be studied before it is released publicly. Come on, folks! Survey results are not exactly the hardest things in the world to understand.

While anyone who has ever done any polling will tell you a survey can be designed to better get the result you want, we think the SDCWA probably still didn't get the result it wanted, hence the reluctance to release the results.

We know those in the Valley who are paying attention to water issues — and most are — have some concerns about the effect the transfer will have on the Valley, particularly if farmland fallowing is imposed on us by state and federal leaders. We would make the educated guess that is what the survey says.

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The SDCWA presents itself in ads in this paper and elsewhere as being a partner to the Imperial Valley. Of late SDCWA officials have been meeting with local leaders to talk about how to protect the Imperial Valley's interests through the money SDCWA would pay for conserved Imperial Valley water. We appreciate those meetings, although we are concerned it all adds up to lip service. We are convinced that the truth is when it comes to getting our water cheap, SDCWA's deepest concern is not the economic health of the Imperial Valley. If fallowing makes things easier and cheaper for the SDCWA, then fallowing it will support.

Yes, the water transfer probably will have to take place. There is too much political pressure being dumped on the Valley for it not to happen. Still, we think a transfer could be designed that would be good for the Valley and for the rest of California and the West, although we haven't seen such a design yet.

If we are truly partners with SDCWA, and if the people running that water authority are truly our friends, they should release the results of the survey so we can see what our own people think about what is going to be done to us. And we would like to see results released that aren't doctored.

Such honesty and forthrightness is what we should expect from our "partners" and "friends" at SDCWA.

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