GrokSurf's San Diego

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Archive for the ‘Quantification Settlement Agreement (QSA)’ Category

San Diego’s connection to the Colorado River

Posted by George J Janczyn on May 12, 2012

Halla Razak, P.E., Colorado River Program Director at the San Diego County Water Authority (SDCWA) provides an overview of the Quantification Settlement Agreement, the associated canal linings and the benefits to the San Diego area.

(Slides shown on the video are unclear; clear slides via Slideshare are shown below, you can just follow along by clicking through the slideshow):


Posted in Colorado River, Quantification Settlement Agreement (QSA), San Diego County Water Authority (SDCWA), Water | Leave a Comment »

QSA-related federal lawsuit case denied

Posted by George J Janczyn on April 10, 2012

Back in 2009 when I started following the Quantification Settlement Agreement (QSA) lawsuit filed in Superior Court , I discovered a related federal case that had also been filed and started following it through the government’s Pacer service. Today I just found that the case was decided on April 6. I’m including a copy of the order below in Scribd format.

As explained in the court’s background, the QSA was partly the result of California (legally) using more Colorado River water than had originally been allocated to it because Arizona and Nevada were not using their full apportionment. But when Arizona and Nevada began increasing their take, California’s excess usage was theatened and complex legal proceedings resulted in the QSA which actually is 35 separate agreements among varying interests, including an agreement for San Diego to purchase water from Imperial Irrigation District.

The federal case involved a part of the QSA entitled Colorado River Water Delivery Agreement (CRWDA). Plaintiffs sought (1) a declaration that the Secretary violated NEPA and the CAA in executing the CRWDA and (2) an order immediately ceasing water deliveries under the void CRWDA.

Plaintiffs were the Imperial County Air Pollution Control District (the “Air District”) and the County of Imperial. Federal Defendants are the United States Department of the Interior; Ken Salazar, Secretary of the United States Department of the Interior; the United States Bureau of Reclamation; and Michael L.Connor, Commissioner, Bureau of Reclamation. Intervening Defendants are the Metropolitan Water District (“MWD”), San Diego County Water Authority (“SDCWA”), Imperial Irrigation District (“IID”), and Coachella Valley Water District (“CVWD”).

The federal case against the CRWDA portion of the QSA involved many complicated issues, including a drying Salton Sea contributing to air pollution issues, which can be read in the court’s decision below, which finishes:

“For the reasons set forth above, the Court concludes that Plaintiffs’ claims fail for lack of standing, which is sufficient to defeat Plaintiffs’ motion for summary judgment in its entirety. The Court also finds that Plaintiffs’ NEPA claim fails on the merits. Because these findings are determinative and none of Plaintiffs’ claims survives, the Court declines to consider the additional arguments raised by
Intervening Defendants. The Court therefore DENIES Plaintiffs’ motion for summary judgment, GRANTS Federal Defendants’ cross motion for summary judgment, and DENIES AS MOOT Intervening Defendants’ cross motion for summary judgment.”


Posted in Quantification Settlement Agreement (QSA), Water | 1 Comment »

How to poison relations between Imperial Valley and San Diego

Posted by George J Janczyn on February 14, 2010

While the decision to invalidate the Quantification Settlement Agreement (QSA) simmers, an editorial in the Imperial Valley Press Online serves as a good reminder that even in San Diego (!) there are those who view California water resources selfishly and cynically (the QSA contains an agreement for water transfers from Imperial Valley to San Diego). The editorial observes:

…the North County Times in San Diego County recently wrote an editorial that was stunning in its lack of understanding of the dangers of a dried-up Salton Sea and its lack of interest in any region — or its people — other than its own. Of the judge’s ruling and a possible appeal, the paper said:

“Since we believe a higher and better use is to move the water conservation in the Valley (the essence of the deal) to the thirsty parts of San Diego County, we hope the appeal succeeds, the judge is overturned and the Salton Sea is ultimately left to dry up.”

I think San Diegans should be more appreciative that the people of Imperial Valley have made sacrifices to send much-needed water our way. At best, the North County Times editorial was thoughtless. If our attitude is ‘let them breathe dust’ they might as well have the stance ‘let them drink seawater!’ (the Poseidon plant notwithstanding).

Click here to read the entire opinion from Imperial Valley Press

Click here to read the offending North County Times opinion. To their credit, they printed a rebuttal to their editorial.

Feb 15: Interesting timing–the KPBS “These Days” program will discuss the QSA today, apparently from the same angle that I used here. They wrote “Not only has the story been under-reported … but calls to let the Salton Sea dry up are really provoking anger. An audio recording of the broadcast will be posted on their website.

Mar 17: S.D. is not against I.V. / editorial by Tom Wornham, Chairman, San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce Secretary, Board of Directors, San Diego County Water Authority, published in the Imperial Valley Press.

Posted in Environment, Imperial Irrigation District, Land use, Politics, Quantification Settlement Agreement (QSA), Salton Sea, Water | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »

Update on lawsuits that threaten San Diego’s water transfers from Imperial

Posted by George J Janczyn on January 28, 2010

The Imperial Valley Press is reporting new action on the federal lawsuit filed Oct. 8, 2009 over the Quantification Settlement Agreement that authorizes water transfers from Imperial to San Diego. This is separate from the California Superior Court lawsuit that has been generating all of the recent news headlines.

To assist in tracking this and other issues, I’ve added a new page to collect posts about the two continuing legal actions, including new developments. The new page appears above on the menu bar as “Ongoing topics.”


Posted in Environment, Imperial Irrigation District, Land use, Politics, Quantification Settlement Agreement (QSA), Salton Sea, San Diego County Water Authority (SDCWA), Water | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »

San Diego’s supplemental water: still too premature to push the panic button?

Posted by George J Janczyn on January 14, 2010

Well, the judge today issued a final statement of decision voiding the agreement providing for San Diego to receive water from Imperial Valley. Here’s the special Superior Court website that has the text of the final decision and provides case information on the individual actions that made up the coordinated proceeding, tentative ruling information, minutes from court proceedings, court orders, and a current Master Service list.

Also, here’s Chance of Rain’s take on the decision. Keep your eye on Aquafornia which is sure to provide comprehensive coverage on this issue in the aftermath of the decision.

My earlier posts on the issue are here:

[Added Jan 15: A good topical overview of the story from NewsFeed Researcher (hat tip to Aquafornia)]

Posted in Environment, Imperial Irrigation District, Land use, Politics, Quantification Settlement Agreement (QSA), Salton Sea, Water | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

Don’t worry, be happy, our water’s safe

Posted by George J Janczyn on December 17, 2009

“It’s way too premature to push the panic button.”

Sort of like “very unique.” That’s what Dennis Cushman, assistant general manager of the San Diego County Water Authority is quoted saying in today’s Union-Tribune front-page story about the Superior Court lawsuit challenging the Quantification Settlement Agreement-based contract for transferring water from Imperial Valley to San Diego.

This is the 4th or 5th time I’ve heard or read of a water official or politician revoking the panic button in the last week or so.

No matter how the lawsuit gets decided, it’s a side-issue. The bigger issue is San Diego’s excessive reliance on imported water. Instead of inducing complacency about our water supply by repeating a politically expedient dismissal of this threatening case and making San Diegans more at ease about our water supply, our local water leaders and lawmakers should use this as an opportunity to vigorously pursue an increase in public understanding of the need to support projects that reduce our dependence on imported water.

The construction of a desalination plant in Carlsbad will certainly contribute new water to the county’s pipelines, although it’s an extremely expensive operation for producing water locally.

Curiously, as an aside, local media and water officials have been silent about the federal lawsuit that also threatens the water transfer.

But one more potentially large new source of potable local water lingers in the background, as I wrote a few days ago in water reuse is imperative for a sustainable San Diego, and it’s less expensive than desalination. Instead of sidetracking public sentiment with cliche “don’t worry” statements, our leaders need to reinforce and hold the long-term view in the public mind. Water reuse is one area that could use more attention.

Posted in Government, Politics, Quantification Settlement Agreement (QSA), Water | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »

Update on the ruling affecting water transfers from Imperial to San Diego

Posted by George J Janczyn on December 14, 2009

[This is an update, correction, and later update (!) to my earlier post “Legal challenge threatens water transfer between Imperial and San Diego.” Here’s the link for the Superior Court’s tentative ruling.]

From my reading, the ruling appears to not invalidate the QSA legislation itself, it invalidates the subsequent contracts for water transfers that depend on the QSA, especially Contract J (the Environmental Cost Sharing, Funding, and Habitat Conservation Development Agreement (“ECSA”)) because it would impose upon the state an unconditional and unlimited obligation to pay environmental mitigation expenses without requiring legislative approval, which would be contrary to the state constitution. Although this is a temporary ruling subject to an additional hearing for comments scheduled for Thursday Dec 17, my sense is that it will be made permanent, and if that happens it would seem any further water transfers will be in real jeopardy of being stopped unless/until the contract deficiencies can be corrected.

**Additional late update:

Statements from SDCWA indicate that the judge only ruled on a narrow legal issue in one of the 13 agreements that were up for validation and it is unlikely water will stop flowing if this ruling becomes permanent. However, the ruling clearly states that the other agreements are totally interdependent and thus also invalid. Quote:

“With the QSA JPA being the principal mitigation funding mechanism for the QSA and with IID expressly stating that the other contractual QSA commitments would not have been made but for the commitments of the State in the QSA JPA, the Court finds the remaining 11 contracts to be interdependent with the QSA JPA to the point of requiring that all 11 remaining contracts must also be invalidated. The Court’s finding here is consistent with IID’s pleading in the Second Amended Validation Complaint, paragraph 23, that all of the contracts in question are “interrelated and interdependent”. [emphasis mine]

[Dec 24: Imperial Irrigation District votes to appeal the ruling]

[Dec 29: IID director rescinds vote; board to revote on appeal question in January]


[Jan 5: Imperial Irrigation District seeks Quantification Settlement Agreement resolution]

Posted in Environment, Imperial Irrigation District, Land use, Politics, Quantification Settlement Agreement (QSA), Salton Sea, Water | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

Legal challenge threatens water transfer between Imperial and San Diego

Posted by George J Janczyn on December 11, 2009

An important supplemental source of water for San Diego appears to be one step closer to being cut off. A Superior Court judge has issued a tentative ruling that the Quantification Settlement Agreement (QSA) that opened the door to water transfers from the Imperial Irrigation District to San Diego is invalid. [please see my Dec 14 update]

There is also a federal lawsuit regarding the transfer, although no decisions have yet been made in that case (see my November 11 report for background information on the lawsuits and QSA ).

According to a report by the Silicon Valley Mercury News, Dennis Cushman, a manager with the San Diego County Water Authority, said “The water is flowing and will continue to flow indefinitely until the legal issues are sorted out,” he said. “There’s no panic button to press right now.”

The judge will hear arguments next Thursday before deciding whether to make the tentative ruling permanent. If he decides to do so, will that be the panic button?

Posted in Environment, Imperial Irrigation District, Land use, Politics, Quantification Settlement Agreement (QSA), Salton Sea, Water | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

Water transfer from Imperial to San Diego faces new legal challenges

Posted by George J Janczyn on November 10, 2009


Lower Otay reservoir and dam

A Superior Court lawsuit filed yesterday (Monday) in Sacramento adds to the pressure from a legal challenge filed last month in federal court over the San Diego/Imperial water transfer agreement, which already has been controversial and subject to previous lawsuits.

In 2003, the San Diego County Water Authority (CWA) signed a water transfer agreement with the Imperial Irrigation District (IID) in order to bolster supplies in the face of increasing demand and disappearing surplus Colorado River water it had relied on. According to SDCWA’s Fact Sheet the transfer started in 2003 at 10,000 acre-feet of water and was intended to eventually move up to 200,000 acre-feet (AF) of water per year to San Diego County, plus another 77,700 AF per year drawn from conserved water that would result from the lining of the All-American and Coachella canals which were losing water to seepage.

The federal lawsuit filed Oct. 9 by the Imperial County Air Pollution Control District and the county of Imperial seeks to stop water transfers until guarantees to meet air quality laws, among other demands, are satisfied. The second lawsuit filed yesterday challenges the water agencies’ legal authority to enter into the deal and also concerns environmental issues. The Metropolitan Water District (MWD) and Coachella Valley Water Department (CVWD) were also parties to the transfer agreement and would be affected by these lawsuits.


Salton Sea

The environmental concerns relate to reduced agricultural runoff into the Salton Sea which results in a lower water level exposing polluted shoreline soil that dries out and scatters as dust in the wind, harming air quality in the valley. Salton Sea water quality, effect on wildlife, and other environmental concerns are also at issue.

I don’t know how the lawsuits might address opposition from farmers and other residents who fear the effects less water would have on their economic well-being and quality-of-life.

Filing the lawsuit at the federal level adds the involvement of the U.S. Department of the Interior and Bureau of Reclamation as well.

One thing seems sure: with our increasing demand on limited water resources, transfers between agricultural and urban agencies are increasingly attractive, especially when some 80% of California’s water is used by agriculture, and much of that is invested in high water use crops like alfalfa, rice, and cotton–not necessarily the best economic use for the water–and Colorado River surplus water that we previously had temporary access to is no longer surplus. Indeed, another transfer for San Diego is underway: CWA is aquiring 20,000 AF from Placer County near Sacramento under an existing one-year agreement. Perhaps such transfers will give us needed time to exercise more restraint in urban expansion and population growth without having to resort to more drastic rationing measures. I hope so.

[Two links added Nov 12]

Former IID director, Imperial County supervisor clash over QSA suit

A Reader Writes: Wrong lawsuit, wrong valley

Additional information sources: announcement of lawsuit

Colorado River Water Transfer Agreement

CWA documentation on the QSA (aka Colorado River Quantification Settlement Agreement)

IID documentation on the QSA

CVWD documentation on the QSA

Why the county is in court / Antonio Rossman, reader viewpoint, in IVPressOnline

Imperial County, Air Pollution Control District’s federal lawsuit challenges Imperial Irrigation District water transfer / David Steffen in IVPressOnline

More lawsuits, more money / Opinion, IVPressOnline

Bruvold: the professor’s off a bit / VoiceOfSanDiego

UC 2003 report on controversy surrounding the agreement

Salton Sea Ecosystem Restoration Program Environmental Impact Report

Salton Sea Coalition report

California Resources Agency report on Salton Sea ecosystem restoration

Posted in Environment, Imperial Irrigation District, Land use, Politics, Quantification Settlement Agreement (QSA), Salton Sea, Water | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »