Our Opinion: IID in the right

June 27, 2002

Imperial Irrigation District directors appear poised to pull the tablecloth from under the table setting of western water deals arranged by federal and state officials.

If that happens, it is more than likely that all the arrangements will fall to the floor and much of the mess will drop into the lap of IID.

We hope the IID directors are ready for the inevitable, because they seem poised to rip up their big water transfer deal with the San Diego County Water Authority and thereby feel the wrath of many angry, powerful and sometimes vengeful officials.

The IID board is having a special meeting Friday to consider certifying the transfer environmental impact report, that it is in accordance with state law. The board also might decide whether to axe the deal. The board came close to nixing the agreement Tuesday but board President Stella Mendoza wisely led the board into taking at least a few more days of thinking about it.


This may turn out to be one of the most fateful days in the Imperial Valley's history, because the majority of the board appears to be lined up against the deal as things stands now. IID has off-ramps from the pact and is moving toward the exit for many reasons, the main one being the insistence of federal and state leaders that Imperial County fallow farmland and suffer the inevitable economic hell that would follow. A final EIR also lists fallowing as the top alternative to transfer water elsewhere but acknowledges the devastation we would feel here if massive fallowing occurs.

If the IID-SDCWA deal falls apart, so will several other western water deals attached to it. We don't want that to happen, and neither do IID leaders, but the Imperial Valley should not be the sacrificial lamb for the growth of other, already more prosperous areas of California. California is being forced to reduce its water. That the traditionally poorest county in California should go down the tubes to make rich counties richer is absurd.

We applaud IID officials for both their bold stance and their not being cowed by threats of various big wigs, including a U.S. senator from California and California's governor. Federal and state leaders have threatened to cut deeply into Imperial County's water allotment or simply take a big amount of its water without any compensation to the Imperial Valley, unless IID goes along with fallowing. If the IID directors decide Friday to break the pact with San Diego, they essentially are saying, "Bring it on and we'll meet you in court."

This really is a David versus Goliath battle, and IID is not the giant here. The numbers and big guns are stacked against us, but IID directors are readying for a fight.

Win or lose, we think it is a fight worth fighting, because we are in the right.

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