GrokSurf's San Diego

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Posts Tagged ‘San Diego County Water Authority’

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]

2010

[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

LowerOtay1small

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.

SaltonSea10Small

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
http://www.ivpressonline.com/articles/2009/11/12/local_news/news04.txt

A Reader Writes: Wrong lawsuit, wrong valley
http://www.ivpressonline.com/articles/2009/11/12/our_opinion/ed01_11-12-09.txt

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Additional information sources:

Mydesert.com announcement of lawsuit
http://www.mydesert.com/article/20091109/NEWS0701/911090308/1006/news01

Colorado River Water Transfer Agreement
http://www.sdcwa.org/manage/pdf/WaterTransfer.pdf

CWA documentation on the QSA (aka Colorado River Quantification Settlement Agreement)
http://www.sdcwa.org/manage/mwd-QSA.phtml

IID documentation on the QSA
http://www.iid.com/Water/QSAWaterTransfer

CVWD documentation on the QSA
http://www.cvwd.org/search.php?cx=002342321204791076250%3Al4cbqu3ehrk&cof=FORID%3A11&q=qsa&x=0&y=0#1155

Why the county is in court / Antonio Rossman, reader viewpoint, in IVPressOnline
http://www.ivpressonline.com/articles/2009/11/07/our_opinion/ed01_11-07-09.txt

Imperial County, Air Pollution Control District’s federal lawsuit challenges Imperial Irrigation District water transfer / David Steffen in IVPressOnline
http://www.ivpressonline.com/articles/2009/10/17/local_news/news03.txt

More lawsuits, more money / Opinion, IVPressOnline
http://www.ivpressonline.com/articles/2009/10/20/our_opinion/ed02-10-20-09.txt

Bruvold: the professor’s off a bit / VoiceOfSanDiego
http://www.voiceofsandiego.org/articles/2009/10/27/cafesandiego/593bruvoldii102609.txt

UC 2003 report on controversy surrounding the agreement
http://igs.berkeley.edu/library/htImperialWaterTransfer2003.html

Salton Sea Ecosystem Restoration Program Environmental Impact Report
http://www.saltonsea.water.ca.gov/PEIR/

Salton Sea Coalition report
http://saltonseacoalition.org/pages/thesaltonsea.cgi

California Resources Agency report on Salton Sea ecosystem restoration
http://www.saltonsea.water.ca.gov/docs/AQFact.pdf

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